The article 'What gifted kids need,' by Dr Gabrielle Oslington highlights the many challenges and misconceptions about giftedness. This article is relevant to all teachers as there is likely to be a number of gifted students across a range of domains in any single class.
It has long been argued that giftedness is a fixed phenomenon which is why initial identification assessments have focused primarily on establishing IQ. As these traditional methods rely almost entirely on recognising potential, it has been the teacher's responsibility to ensure that these students 'gifts' are transformed into 'talents.' As a classroom teacher I have always asked myself what is the best approach to ensuring this, as over the past 10 years a variety of methods have been encouraged to cater for students recognised as gifted. Some of these approaches have included class withdrawal, whole-class differentiation, streaming, extra-curricular activities and clubs, and most recently the Newman strand.
Dr Oslington argues that catering for giftedness is not as simple as providing more challenging material or differentiating content as has been encouraged through Gagne's Differentiated Model of Talent Development. Two new areas of research is starting to make traction in not only gifted education, but for all learners. These areas are growth mindset and neuroplasticity, and when used together is known as the developmental approach. This is such an important milestone in gifted education as it challenges the notion that intelligence is fixed, and by doing so arms the students with strategies to overcome notions of failure when they do not experience immediate success. Allowing students to experience frustration, failure and consequences are some of the most important gifts that you can give a learner and equips with essential life skills for tackling much larger problems later in life.
The developmental approach also presents giftedness as a phenomenon where expectations and measures of success change over time. This again is important as what was recognised as success in primary school will surely change in high school and then in the workforce.
While the developmental approach to gifted education highlights many important aspects on how we cater for gifted students, I can't help but wonder shouldn't this article have been written with all learners in mind? Surely encouraging growth mindsets where students are constantly aiming to better themselves, and notions of neuroplasticity where we encourage new brain synapses by learning from our errors, be a focus of learning for all students?
What Gifted Kids Need, Dr Gabrielle Oslington. Published August 12, 2018 SMH
What's Your Learning Disposition? How to Foster Students' Mindsets, Katrina Schwartz Published on Mar 25, 2014 . Mind/Shift