What is Giftedness?

What is giftedness?

There are many definitions of giftedness. The State of Maine defines gifted children as those in grades K-12 who excel or have the potential to excel, beyond their age peers, in the regular school program, to the extent that they need and can benefit from programs for the gifted and talented. This group comprises approximately 3-5% of students. Annemarie Roeper, educator/author, defines giftedness as "a greater awareness, a greater sensitivity and a greater ability to understand and transform perceptions into intellectual and emotional experiences". Both definitions connect directly to the 12 characteristics of giftedness we use to identify gifted thinkers, recognized in various forms by teachers and families. Please bear in mind that a gifted thinker need not exhibit every single one of these characteristics.

The behaviors listed underneath each characteristic may be viewed as potentially positive (with a +) or potentially negative (with a -), depending on the context.

SUPERIOR ABSTRACT THINKING

+ Grasps concepts and complex problems easily, recognizes relationships, reasons well.
- May resist rote learning, drill and practice; argues well (too well).

SUPERIOR COMMUNICATION

+ Large vocabulary precisely used; expresses thoughts and ideas well.
- May dominate class discussions or not listen to others.

LEARNS MORE RAPIDLY

+ Retains information well; needs minimal direct teaching; may be high achiever.
- Not easily kept busy; may be annoyed/ frustrated with routine or repetition; may be disruptive.

HEIGHTENED CURIOSITY

+ Willing and eager to learn new material; asks provocative questions.
- May persist in asking questions; not satisfied with simple explanations.

BROADER & DEEPER KNOWLEDGE & INTERESTS

+ Interests may be unusual for age; often reads extensively.
- May overextend self; may be preoccupied with own choices.

LONG ATTENTION SPAN

+ Sticks with task if interested.
- May lose track of time; ignores deadlines or other work.

INDEPENDENT

+ May show initiative; may enjoy working alone; not afraid to voice opinion.
- May challenge authority or appear rebellious.

HEIGHTENED SENSITIVITY

+ Concern with social injustice and moral issues; may have aesthetic appreciation.
- May be overly sensitive to peers; may be rigid about social issues.

CRITICAL OF SELF, IDEAS, OTHERS; PERFECTIONIST

+ May do exceptional work; senses discrepancies or injustices.
- May suffer from own perception of failure; may not complete tasks; may be skeptical or judgmental

KEEN OBSERVER

+ Alert and perceptive; sees unusual connections and details.
- May point out discrepancies or other’s mistakes.

IMAGINATIVE & ORIGINAL

+ Uses strategies to solve problems; generates ideas and solutions.
- May reject usual methods.

KEEN SENSE OF HUMOR

+ Intellectually playful; derives pleasures from many aspects of learning.
- May distract or annoy others with jokes, puns, etc.; not always understood by peers; may be bizarre.


Adapted from Molly Smith for the Talents Program - Yarmouth Schools (12.2008)

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