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 Gifted and talented children in (and out) of the classroom (CCEA)

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IndlægEmne: Gifted and talented children in (and out) of the classroom (CCEA)   Lør feb 27, 2010 2:30 am

Gifted and talented children in (and out) of the classroom
A report for the Council of Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA)
Feb 28th 2006

What does it mean to be Gifted/Talented?

Identification of the gifted and talented can pose a problem to teachers and education professionals because they are not a homogeneous group. The typical picture of the highly able child is of a hard-working pupil who diligently completes work, and is perhaps known as the class “swot” or “brain box”. In reality the picture is much more complex than that. Alongside the gifted achievers are those who - despite their gifts and talents - persistently underachieve due to boredom, lack of interest, or crippling perfectionism; young children who are cognitively advanced enough to play games with complex rule structures and yet not socially mature enough to deal with the frustration that occurs when their peers cannot grasp the game; children whose giftedness may be masked by the fact that they are not being educated in their first language or who have also have a disability.

The vast number of definitions for giftedness and talent can be quite confusing. We have provided some of the better known definitions in the section below in order to give you an overview of the area. No one definition is perfect – highly able children can no more be fitted into one neat category box than any other child whose range of experiences has shaped his or her attitudes to learning and achievement.

Definitions of giftedness and talent

Before beginning to develop provision for gifted and talented students it is necessary to understand just what is meant by these terms, and how they apply to children in our classrooms. There is large variation in the range and breadth of definitions of gifted and talented students, and little consensus on a satisfactory definition. This lack of clarity led Gagne to remark that the concept of giftedness is at times difficult to defend because it is “defined too loosely while being measured too restrictively” (Gagne, 1995, pp 104).

Giftedness versus talent

Originally the words gifted and talented were often used interchangeably, or at times the concept of “talent” was seen as being in some way lesser compared with the idea of giftedness. For example Morelock (1996) referred to a hierarchical categorisation
with “talent” referring to specialised aptitudes that are assumed to be unrelated – and inferior - to general intelligence and giftedness. In the mid 1990’s, the term “talented” was often used to replace “gifted”, which was thought to have connotations of “getting something for nothing”, or being specially chosen in some way. Freeman (2000) and Winstanley (2004) both comment that the term “gifted” often seems to have religious overtones of gifts bestowed by God. Winstanley also remarks that this also implies moral connotations to do with being gifted, as if the child has a responsibility to apply themselves and not waste their abilities. The term “able” and variations of it are used frequently in the educational literature as it is felt to be more appropriate and less emotive. In both Wales and Scotland pupils are classified as “More Able and Talented” and “Able” respectively. Winstanley (2004) notes that the term “able” is often prefixed by words such as “more”, “very”, “severely” or “profoundly”, in order to create subtle distinctions that are often neither objective nor useful. She advocates using the term “highly able” for the majority of able pupils and “exceptionally able” for those who are particularly outstanding. However, the terms “gifted” and “talented” are those that are used most frequently in government strategies and research literature and so will be used in the rest of this review. In this report the terms are not intended to be synonymous, and are defined separately.

Gagné (1991) differentiated between the concepts of gifted and talented by defining giftedness as above-average competence in human ability, and talent as above-average performance in a particular field. Giftedness refers to human aptitudes such as intellectual or creative abilities. Talent however is demonstrated in an area of human activity such as mathematics, literature or music. Freeman (2000) echoes this definition, adding that gifts are usually easy to measure as intellectual aspects of development, whereas talents are normally discovered by experts in those fields. This can be further clarified by Munro’s (2001) distinction between talented students as displaying exceptional ability in areas in which they have been explicitly taught, and gifted students as those who display exceptional ability in certain areas without explicit teaching. Thus it follows that a gifted student may not necessarily be defined as talented.

In 1988 the US Congress defined gifted and talented as:

“The term “gifted and talented students” means children and youth who give evidence of high performance capability in
areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who require services or activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop such capabilities”

Deborah Eyre (1999) provides a simpler definition: “An able child, as defined by our school, is one who achieves, or has the ability to achieve, at a level significantly in advance of the peer group. This may be in all areas of the curriculum or in a limited range.”
As of 2005 the current definitions from the Department for Education and Skills in Great Britain (DfES) are as follows:

Gifted: the top 5-10% of pupils per school as measured by actual or potential achievement in English, Maths, Science, History, Geography, Modern Foreign Languages, RE, ICT or Design and Technology.

Talented: the top 5-10% of pupils per school as measured by actual or potential achievement in the subjects of Art, Music or PE.
However one element of this description should be emphasised: it is the top 5-10% of pupils per school, regardless of the overall ability profile of pupils.

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