Friday, December 23, 2011

Giftedness or Talent Development?


For some, this post could well have been entitled, “Much Ado about Nothing”. For others, however, it is an issue of grave importance. This is a follow-up to my last two posts about redefining giftedness in the U.S.



A funny thing happened on my way to write this post … I learned that this discussion is nothing new – it was discussed in the 1800’s, 1930s, and virtually every decade thereafter. The difference today is that some researchers are now saying we must bid adieu to the term ‘gifted’ in favor of the more palatable term ‘talent development’ if the gifted community is to be found acceptable and worthy of public funding.

If you live outside of the U.S., you may have a puzzled look on your face about now. Talent development is an important initiative during the current Hungarian EU presidency’s term in office. April 9, 2011 was declared European Talent Day. Other countries, several of whom are among the top performers on the OECD’s PISA Assessments, are making talent development a national priority in lieu of the availability of natural resources.

Facebook discussions have revolved around two main concerns – talent development as a means of producing eminence within a specific domain and giftedness as a response to meeting the needs of the whole child including social and emotional issues.

This blog has advocated for talent development in the past. There is a great need in the world today for ‘producers’ ~ those who can answer the ‘big’ questions and find solutions to the many pressing issues in our world today. However, this needs to be done in concert with remembering the uniqueness of each child and their differential needs; separate and beyond the needs of other children. It is curious to me why some leaders in the gifted community feel the need to eliminate one approach in deference to the other.

Here’s the deal for parents of gifted children – you and your child need to decide what is most important to your child. There is no right or wrong answer. Many parents are extremely comfortable seeing their children as high-achievers; producers. Many gifted children thrive on maintaining a 4.0 average with top scores on every test they take. They have the potential to attend the top universities and attain success in whatever field they choose. Others are happy seeing their child excel in whatever area they choose regardless of which path they follow to get there. Some will experience difficulties and require additional support throughout their lives; others will not.

What nearly all parents want most for their children is that they find peace and happiness in life doing whatever it is they choose. Few will accept the judgment that their child’s giftedness is solely dependent upon whether or not they achieve eminence in any field. If this were the case, there would be little reason to support any gifted child beyond the most profoundly gifted. Should we choose to support only those who have the potential to achieve eminence in their fields? In my humble opinion … not so much.  

There are many organizations in the U.S. and around the world whose mission it is to support gifted children in various ways. Here are a few links to various groups. If interested, take a look!

GT Voice - UK (http://gtvoice.org.uk/ )
AAEGT – AUS (http://www.aaegt.net.au/ )
HKAGE – Hong Kong (http://hkage.org.hk/en/index.html )
IRADTE - EU ( http://www.iratde.org/ )

2 comments:

  1. So true! Thanks for the reminder. Every child is unique and every parent needs to be looking out for the unique needs of their child. We can't hope that the educational system (or any single group) can do all of that for us. We, as parents, are the experts in our child...

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  2. Thanks for this post! :) Well said and to me it all comes down to support for the whole gifted child. I want my son's teachers to know not only about his intellectual abilities, but what he is like emotionally and socially so they can help him have a positive learning experience. Thanks for the list of groups at the end of your post. Most helpful! :)

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