There's a lot of debate and confusion over the definition of giftedness. What does it mean to be gifted? That question must be answered before we can define who is gifted.When Smartypants, as a first grader, was spelling words like "hieroglyph," and zooming through chapter books I knew something special was going on in his brain. It helped that the school had, through a fluke, provided IQ and achievement testing when he was in kindergarten. My boy clearly possessed academic talents beyond those of a typical child his age. And though his teacher cringed every time I said it, I had no problem tossing around or labeling my son with the G-word.
I've been giving the term a bit of thought and so has Jeanne, a mom of gifted children who also cringes at the G-word. (Click to read her thoughts.) Oh, and Switched on Mom has a few ideas about gifted labelling as well.
I'd like to invite more guest bloggers into this space. When it comes to folks like Switched on Mom, Jeanne or IRL Julia, I have a sense of the moms and their kids, the impact of giftedness of their families, but what about people I don't know as well?
Does it matter if a guest blogger has a child who is eager and bright (a good student) instead of quirky, socially awkward and/or scary smart gifted? (Not rhetorical. I'd love your opinions.)
Just to give us some common vocabulary, I'll share a few definitions of giftedness:
According to a 2008 definition from the National Association of Gifted Children:
A gifted person is someone who shows, or has the potential for showing, an exceptional level of performance in one or more areas of expression.
Michele Kane, Ed.D. shared this definition during a recent lecture on temperament and gifted children (via the Columbus Group, 1991):
Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counseling in order for them to develop optimally.
According to the Illinois School Code (pasted from the site) "For purposes of this Article, "gifted and talented children" means children and youth with outstanding talent who perform or show the potential for performing at remarkably high levels of accomplishment when compared with other children and youth of their age, experience, and environment. A child shall be considered gifted and talented in any area of aptitude, and, specifically, in language arts and mathematics, by scoring in the top 5% locally in that area of aptitude.(Source: P.A. 94‑151, eff. 7‑8‑05; 94‑410, eff. 8‑2‑05.)
The middle one (Columbus Group) speaks to me and my experiences as a parent-intensity, asychrony-welcome to my world.
The Illinois State definition and its reliance on local scores confuses me. A child can be gifted in one school district but not another. More likely, a child from an affluent school will likely be considered gifted where ever he attends, but a child from, say, an inner city school, not so much.
What do you think? Even if you don't want to guest blog here, I'd love your thoughts on these definitions.
More musing on raising and education gifted children.