Opinion
Education Letter to the Editor

‘Giftedness': Definitions Have Gone Far

April 20, 2010 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

James R. Delisle makes a very interesting argument about the field of gifted education in his Commentary “What Gifted Educators Can Learn From Sarah Palin” (March 31, 2010). Definitions of giftedness have gone very far afield, causing a great deal of controversy. Mr. Delisle is correct that there is no single, concise description of who the gifted child is, as shown by the examples he provides from the federal government, Joseph S. Renzulli, and Howard Gardner, among others.

Mr. Delisle proposes that gifted-child advocates narrow the definition to those students who have extraordinary abilities and who stand out from their classmates. At this time, however, no rubric for making such determinations exists. IQ tests may narrow the field and measure how well a child will do on school-related tasks, but that is not necessarily a true indicator of giftedness, especially when more than one test is given, or the tests are group tests, as is seen in the majority of schools. Lewis Terman, who chose IQ as the predictor of giftedness, conducted longitudinal studies expecting to find future Nobel laureates. This was not to be the case.

We are approaching this challenge from the wrong end. We should not be labeling the children, but the curriculum. Curriculum (a decision on what is taught, to whom, and in what setting) for the gifted child should provide a degree of challenge, without producing anxiety, in each and every content area. Students should be able to reach a level that allows them to move ahead with the assistance of a mentor. Mentors can come from the educational community, the Internet, the larger community, or the professional realm.

If we are to move education into the 21st century, we must break down the barriers that classroom walls create, which prevent students from reaching their potential. The world, with all of its available resources, must become the encyclopedia of the future.

Starr Cline

Adjunct Associate Professor

Hofstra University

Hempstead, N.Y.

A version of this article appeared in the April 21, 2010 edition of Education Week as ‘Giftedness': Definitions Have Gone Far

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Whole Child Approach to Supporting Positive Student Behavior 
To improve student behavior, it’s important to look at the root causes. Social-emotional learning may play a preventative role.

A whole child approach can proactively support positive student behaviors.

Join this webinar to learn how.
Content provided by Panorama
Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Why Retaining Education Leaders of Color Is Key for Student Success
Today, in the United States roughly 53 percent of our public school students are young people of color, while approximately 80 percent of the educators who lead their classrooms, schools, and districts are white. Racial
Jobs January 2022 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: January 12, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education School Bus Driver Retires After 48 Years Behind Wheel
Charles City school bus driver Betty Flick sat behind the wheel for the final time last week, wrapping up a 48-year career for the district.
3 min read
Charles City school bus driver Betty Flick poses with one of her farewell signs. Flick has been driving for Charles City School District for 48 years.
Betty Flick quickly fell in love with the job and with the kids, which is what has had her stay in the district for this long.
Courtesy of Abby Koch/Globe Gazette
Education Briefly Stated: December 1, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: November 17, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read