Hannah Taylor; Danika Riesebeck; and Jessie Kraan

Section 4: The Authors’ Critical Analyses

Danika Reisebeck

Most gifted and talented students are tested during kindergarten – an age where children have just started attending school. This is the first-time students are being compared to other students. It is likely that most parents are hoping that their child is achieving well during the test, as they know the advantages of calling their child gifted and talented. However, children can experience a lot of pressure when labeled gifted and talented, as it may lead to anxiety and perfectionism. This raises the question: Does the child’s environment play a role in being gifted and talented?

Imagine a child coming from a wealthy family: growing up in a lovely neighborhood, surrounded by a caring family who read to the child every night and supports their early learning the best way. Does that not already bring the child ahead of other children with less supportive family circumstances? It could be said that the gifted and talented system is based purely on intelligence – but intelligence contracts and expands based on the challenges we seek personally.

Something for parents and teachers to consider: Why not support creativity, curiosity, and empathy on its own, instead of labeling students as gifted? Rather than identifying and labeling who they are, we should encourage our students to spread their wings and fly. Instead of focusing only on gifted and talented students, we need to make room for all types of students: struggling students, creative students, special needs students, and passionate students. We as teachers should focus on showing that all students can shine with their gifts. Every single student has a gift and they all can shape our world too. Not only gifted students!


Hannah Taylor

As mentioned, a child often must go through a formal testing to be considered for programs or support intended for gifted and talented students. This means that several external professionals and possibly a statistical comparison of test scores must be used to determine if a child is fit for such programs and support. As teachers, we frequently spend more time with these children and see their talents and challenges daily – far more than a professional or test could ever prove in one day or session. In the future of identifying gifted and talented students, a more informal approach may be the most beneficial. Our students are going to be talented or challenged regardless of their label. Is it not our responsibility as teachers and educators to tend to those needs with or without an official title? Perhaps we can be the advocates for those students to ensure they receive the support needed without jumping through the hoops of IQ tests and formal evaluations by psychologists. Therefore, consider the question: How can teachers and educators ensure our students have access to the support they need (gifted or otherwise) without an official diagnosis?

A further point to consider: Typically, students who are gifted (or even just high achievers) are given extra work to accommodate their higher level of understanding in a subject. Although this can occasionally be used as a strategy, it should not be relied on. As teachers, it is not our responsibility to hold gifted students at grade level or slow down their pace as our solution to differentiation. Gifted students should have the opportunity to continue to develop and grow at their pace and in ways that benefit their talents; that is our responsibility as their teachers. How can we ensure that our gifted students will have access to the same opportunities to develop at their own level like their peers? Are current strategies enough to give them those opportunities? Or are we using strategies that make it easier on us as teachers?


Jessie Kraan

Educating the gifted and talented students can create certain difficulties for schools, particularly regarding how they decide who is gifted and once identified, how those children can best be served. Identifying gifted learners would appear to be rather straightforward in theory: test scores and classroom attitudes, ability to reason and assimilate information all seem self-evident. But in practice, identified gifted populations in districts have been disproportionately white and lacking in both minority and low socio-economic students, indicating that methods of identification may be better at measuring socio-economic levels rather than identifying actual gifted potential. Other processes focus disproportionately on “academic leaders,” or students who are high achieving and successful in the classroom, but some of these established characteristics of giftedness actually may manifest in boredom leading to misbehavior or may even be misdiagnosed as another condition entirely. All students make progress towards improvement and it is most likely those who are very far behind the norm may receive the lion’s share of academic attention. While those who are already topping and therefore make little or no progress far less. What is the best method for assessing and identifying gifted and talented learners? Once identified, what indicates are the best practices for meeting their needs? What might be the long-term impact of the servicing choices districts make?

Gifted and talented learners are a challenge for most schools, but a good one, because the potential for success is great. These are children who, once identified and nurtured, almost invariably do significantly better than non- gifted and talented students, and even better than the gifted and talented students without focused attention, instruction, and differentiation. Unfortunately, these are sometimes the learners who get the least attention because their needs appear less great than those who are far below average. Ignoring the needs of the gifted and talented learner, however, can have long-term impact both emotionally and academically. What could educators do to create an instruction that would do well to ensure their selection processes are free of bias and open to a wide range of students, especially those whose abilities may be masked in some way. As mentioned before, classroom management helps to differentiating in the classroom. However, as mentioned before, it is also a tool to support the gifted and talented students. How could schools ensure that acceleration, ability grouping, and appropriate differentiation of the curriculum are available for the gifted students? Because in their care in whatever combination best fits the individual learner, and that those students are entrusted to teachers who are themselves sufficiently cognitively gifted to meet the challenge of educating children of this level. Schools that have these practices will find themselves positioned to maximize achievement for these exceptional children.


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Inclusive Perspectives in Primary Education Copyright © 2021 by Hannah Taylor; Danika Riesebeck; and Jessie Kraan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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