It’s difficult to define exactly what ‘gifted’ is. In
the U.S., gifted children are seen as those who have the potential to
perform exceptionally in five areas: general intellectual ability, specific
academic aptitude, creative or productive thinking, leadership ability
or visual/performing arts. This definition is so general that it leaves
the identification of gifted children and their education up to the various
states they live in.
Some states have tests and criteria in place for the identification of
gifted children and programs to help them succeed while others do not.
Whether a gifted child is identified as such and put into an academic
program that fosters their gifts is largely a geographical potluck. Gifted
children who are not identified rarely succeed and there is a large percentage
that drop out of school altogether.
Giftedness is not easy to identify: Although gifted students may have the
aptitude to excel, they often have trouble communicating or taking tests.
Although some tests do exist to measure giftedness, the information may
not be presented in a way that the gifted child will be able to process.
Gifted children are not just regular children with a high IQ; they need
special nurturing to fulfill their potential.
Gifted students are not all geeks, nor are they all socially inept. Gifted
students come with every physical and personality trait imaginable. There
is no set of characteristics that define giftedness, which is why it is
so difficult to identify.
Gifted students will not succeed on their own. Just like any other student,
gifted students need guidance and nurturing. While some claim that in
an age of austerity and budget cuts, it’s not possible to continue
funding special programs for gifted students, these programs remain essential
to the success of gifted students.
Our ability to guide and develop the talents of gifted students is one
of our most valuable intellectual assets. Gifted children do require special
programs, but their contribution to society makes their development worth
every cent. Gifted students are not the vestige of the wealthy and many
families are simply not able to provide the specialist education that
their gifted students need without state funding.
Early detection of gifted students is possible. Most states only start
testing for gifted students when those students have reached the third
grade. However, the
National Association for Gifted Children is able to start testing in the pre-kindergarten phase. The sooner giftedness
is detected, the more support we are able to provide and the greater the
gifted student’s potential for success.
Gifted students provide an exceptional rate of return for the financial
investment made in them by the state. Programs for gifted students need
to be expanded and testing methods refined so that gifted students are
given as great an opportunity for success as possible.