In my recent blog post A Gifted Child Checklist for Teachers , I listed ten basic characteristics and traits of gifted children intended to help teachers and others to identify giftedness in all children by providing a list of gifted traits and characteristics which aren’t always so well-known, easily recognized or widely understood. I also hoped my checklist would dispel some myths and correct some incorrect information about giftedness.
#7 on my list was the fact that gifted students are a culturally, racially, socially and ethnically diverse group of students which is not widely recognized or practiced. Too many students from families of a lower socioeconomic status, and students from cultural, ethnic and racial minorities are often never identified as gifted likely because of beliefs in unfortunate myths and incorrect information about what giftedness is and what giftedness can look like in the classroom.
MYTH 1: Gifted – It’s made, not inborn.
Giftedness is a characteristic that is gained through practice, effort, hot-housing, tutoring and other forms of extra educational enrichment and effort. You are not born with giftedness, you work to become gifted.
TRUTH 1: Gifted – It’s born, not made!
Gifted people ARE born this way; you cannot force or gain or earn or groom giftedness. It is a trait, a genetic characteristic that is present at conception and spans a gifted individual’s life span. No one can become gifted through effort or nurturing.
MYTH 2: Gifted students come from white, middle- and upper-class families.
Since giftedness is made, not inborn, a higher-than-average socioeconomic status provides a family the education and means to provide all the resources needed to nurture their child into giftedness, and into the gifted program at school. Families of a lower socioeconomic status, and students from some cultural, racial, and ethnic minorities are believed to not have the means to provide these resources to their children in order to enrich and promote their child’s education.
TRUTH 2: Gifted students come from all walks of life.
Gifted children are represented in all cultural, ethnic, racial and socioeconomic groups.
THE TRUTH: Giftedness is Innately Diverse
Intellectual giftedness is inborn, and therefore cannot and does not discriminate racially, culturally, ethnically or socioeconomically.
Of all the myths and incorrect information that impedes a true understanding of giftedness in children, the myth that giftedness is inherent among only certain cultures, races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic statuses is, without a doubt, the most detrimental and discriminatory; and it does a tremendous disservice to the children who are never identified and to society as a whole.
That’s my opinion, but holding to the fallacy of the stereotypical gifted child – the privileged child of white middle- and upper-class families – especially when it hinders identification and nurturing of giftedness in any child is simply wrong, so destructive, and shameful. The underrepresentation of gifted children from overlooked cultures, ethnicities and socioeconomic statuses, and the subsequent miseducation of these unidentified gifted children is a significant educational issue that needs to be addressed. Those of us who have gifted children know there are major inadequacies in public gifted education, and our gifted children are educationally neglected; the neglect of the unidentified gifted children from overlooked cultures, ethnicities and socioeconomic statuses is painfully multiplied.
Teachers should be knowledgeable of all gifted characteristics and be able to recognize these traits in ALL children, especially when they are young, despite their cultural, socioeconomic, educational and racial backgrounds! When gifted students’ unique learning needs go unmet, underachievement, delinquent behavior, depression, suicide and dropping out of school occurs. We cannot let unidentified gifted children just fall through the cracks and neglect their right to an appropriate education which they need to fulfill their potential to become successful adults.
There is so much to be said on this topic that I couldn’t possibly do it the justice it deserves in one blog post, so I’ve gathered what I think is a representative list of resources which touch on the many aspects of the racial, cultural, ethnic and socioeconomic diversity of giftedness. We all need to do our part to advocate for these underrepresented and unidentified gifted children because we can no longer morally or ethically stand by and allow this educational neglect to continue. These are our children, our future.
There is so much societal bias against giftedness, but inborn giftedness has no bias.
ARTICLES, BLOGS AND RESOURCES ON GIFTED DIVERSITY
HOAGIES’ GIFTED EDUCATION PAGE: “Gifted Students at Risk” (resource page)
WE ARE GIFTED 2: A website dedicated to advocating for underrepresented minorities in gifted education.
SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN: “Where Are the Gifted Minorities?”
DAVIDSON INSTITUTE FOR TALENT DEVELOPMENT: “Gifted programming for poor or minority urban students: Issues and lessons learned”
ASSOCIATION FOR SUPERVISION AND CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT “Poor and Minority Students Can Be Gifted, Too!”