#7 Gifted Students are Culturally, Racially, and Socially Diverse

Giftedness is DiverseIn 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.

DUKE TIP: “Minority Children in Gifted Education: A Problem and a Solution”

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!” 

MID-ATLANTIC EQUITY CENTER “The Over-Representation and Under-Representation of Minority Students in Special Education and Gifted and Talented Programs” 

#8 Up Next

The Gifted Teen Has Found His Peeps …er… Peers

GiftedPeeps

  Writing about gifted children and the myriad issues inherent with having gifted children is almost second nature to me.  I’ve experienced it, seen it, read about it, heard about and I write about it.  But writing about gifted children finding good friends, a true peer, is like sticking a knife in my heart and […]

Continue reading...

I’m Jealous of Your Smart Kid

I'm Jealous of Your Smart Kid

Yes, I am jealous, but I would never roll my eyes or say nasty, mean things about you or your child!  Nope, I keep my envy to myself, and I just smile when I see your smart child making honor roll, gathering awards and breezing through school.  I know how lucky your child is to be so successful […]

Continue reading...

Suffering in Silence: Who’s Really Paying the Price for the Neglect of Our Gifted Children?

Suffering in Silence

No child should have to suffer simply because they were born gifted   One only needs to google just two words: gifted and neglected.  You will find page after page of results for professional and scholarly articles, op-eds, book excerpts and blog posts all exclaiming the educational, emotional and social neglect of our gifted children […]

Continue reading...

#6 Gifted Students Develop Asynchronously

AsynchronousDevelopment

“But I am sure the Naval Research Laboratory has a gift shop that sells scanning tunneling microscopes so I can create my own quantum dots with identical, deterministic sizes!  Why can’t I have one?  Don’t you understand that I need one for my own research?”, screams the 12-year-old gifted child as he falls to the […]

Continue reading...

#5 Gifted Students Often Struggle Socially

#5postsocialstruggle

What is Life Without Friends? The title may be misleading because, in my experience, the social struggles of gifted children are not so much that gifted children are inept in social situations or are lacking social skills, it is more that society does not understand or accept the not-quite-average behaviors of gifted children.  This is where […]

Continue reading...

A Gifted Child’s Owner’s Manual

agiftedchild'sownersmanual

We’ve probably all heard this sentiment many times as parents.  Despite all the websites, books, magazines and articles available about parenting and raising children, the information offered in any of these resources may not always relate to you, your family or your child because each child truly is unique.  Wouldn’t it be nice that at the […]

Continue reading...

#4 Gifted Students Can Have Learning Disabilities

GTcanhave2E

Twice-exceptional – gifted with one or more learning disabilities or learning differences. Twice-exceptional (or 2E) children can have extra burdens on them, more so than other gifted children,  for several reasons which are related to the simple fact that children’s giftedness or higher-than-average intelligence is often masked, offset or overshadowed by their learning differences or […]

Continue reading...

#3 Gifted Students are Often Extremely Sensitive

old skateboard

The physical and mental filter through which outside stimuli enters the mind and body of a gifted person seems to be equipped with an automatic 100X Increase Sensory Intensity component and there is NO on-off option to it.  The stimuli can be sensual – touch, sound, taste, smell and sight.  It can also be social, […]

Continue reading...

#2 Gifted Students Often Have Emotional Intensities

felixemotionalintensities

“Emotional intensity in the gifted is not a matter of feeling more than other people, but a different way of experiencing the world: vivid, absorbing, penetrating, encompassing, complex, commanding – a way of being quiveringly alive.” A quote from Emotional Intensity in  Gifted Children by Leslie Kay Sword   In my recent blog post A […]

Continue reading...