Just sharing a few myths and questions — quiz yourself on how much you know about gifted education!

All children are gifted.
All children are gifted.
MYTH: While all children do have areas of strength, as NAGC explains, "not all children are gifted in the educational sense of the word. High-ability learners in one or more subjects (including the arts) require more than their age or grade curriculum in order to be challenged and learn new material at their own pace." Just as not all children are extraordinary performers at basketball or piano, not all children are equally academically able.
Won't gifted children be just fine in a regular, mixed-ability classroom?
High-ability learners need very different things from school from their non-gifted peers: they have much more interest in learning about subjects in depth, to even an expert level; in working at a faster pace; and in getting more challenges in their learning environments. Gifted students who are not appropriately challenged can become disengaged from their education, which may result in frustration, depression, anxiety, and/or underachievement that can be very difficult to reverse.
Is acceleration harmful to the social development of gifted students?
Gifted children may feel out of place, bored, or unhappy with children their own age, and placing a child with intellectual peers (who may be older) can benefit these children in many ways. Additionally, although we often use it as shorthand for whole-grade "skipping," there are 18 different kinds of acceleration, not just one. Decades of research have shown again and again that students who are accelerated are generally happier and achieve more academically than their non-accelerated peers.
Gifted education programs are elitist.
Gifted education programs are elitist.
MYTH: Gifted does not mean "better" or "worse," it just means different. According to NAGC, "with no federal money and few states providing an adequate funding stream, most gifted education programs and services are dependent solely on local funds and parent demand. This means that, in spite of the need, higher-income school districts are often the only ones able to provide services—giving the appearance of elitism."
Gifted children only seem so far ahead of their peers because their parents are pushing them.
Gifted children only seem so far ahead of their peers because their parents are pushing them.
MYTH: Gifted children are, indeed, often substantially ahead of their peers, but not because their parents are forcing them to study and learn. Rather, gifted students are often dragging their parents along while they seek out the challenges their very hungry brains demand. If parents of gifted students seem pushy, it is perhaps because they often have to advocate so fiercely for schools to meet their children's needs.
Won't all children "level out" by the 4th grade, anyway?
All students deserve to learn something new every day. In other domains, society understands that a "leveling out" effect is clearly an undesirable result: imagine a child who has music lessons every week from 1st to 4th grade. If her skills are not markedly more advanced after 3 years, her parents would (rightfully) be furious! The same holds true in education: children who are gifted deserve to be able to grow just like their non-gifted peers.
Further Reading on Myths in Gifted Education
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Showing 6 comments
  • Pamela Guerra
    Reply

    WE need to realize that GT students have their own worlds… we need to meet them in theirs and be ok with leaving ours behind… it’s ok.

    • Nancy De Bellis
      Reply

      Pamela – thanks for your comment. We agree! Our students are so willing to go deep into areas of interest, or may ask tangential questions that deserve to be answered and explored. I am so honored to work with highly flexible, creative, and amazing educators that accommodate and follow student direction and differentiate their lessons to make sure that our students are engaged and learning new things every day.

  • Sandra Gremmels
    Reply

    I completely agree that gifted does not mean better or worse. It just means not the same in our learning styles and pacing.
    It makes me sad that some students miss out on programs and services because the funding is not there for their particular school or district.

    • Nancy De Bellis
      Reply

      It is sad, so we allcontinue to advocate on behalf of these children. Here are a few resources you may find helpful. We are also proud to be a part of the national partnership network for The G Word film, currently in post-production on this very topic. The producers hope to expose the myths that exist about gifted children and how we identify and support their needs. I hope these are helpful for you in your journey.

  • Joy Chappell
    Reply

    I agree about some gifted students needing older peers to relate to, however I have known gifted students who seemed almost below their peer level socially and really benefited from being with those students.

    • Jill Williford Wurman
      Reply

      You are absolutely right — some gifted children do exhibit that behavior. Sometimes children their own age leave them out of social situations because their giftedness makes them different; in that case, they simply don’t have as many opportunities to practice that kind of interaction with peers. It can also be an expression of the asynchrony that characterizes gifted children’s development. Yet another reason that teaching gifted children can be very challenging for teachers who are not given specific training in gifted education! Thank you for reading and for your thoughtful comment.

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