Busting the Myths Around Gifted Education - Glasshouse Christian College

Busting the Myths Around Gifted Education



  • February 29, 2024

Busting the Myths Around Gifted Education

As High Ability Students Coordinator at GCC, it is my honour to work with students and their classroom / subject teachers in order to bring out their potential and help them thrive.  Today I’ll be exploring what Gifted Education really means, and busting some commonly held myths! 

Myth #1: “Gifted” is such a vague term… and surely EVERY child is gifted in some way or another?

Fact:  Every child certainly has unique gifts they bring to this world, bestowed upon them by our magnificent creator.  But, “gifted” in Educational Science, is a very specific term with a clear definition.  “Gifted” means that a person’s natural abilities place them in the top 10% of his or her age-matched peers.  While a child’s school performance can be improved by studying hard or tutoring, you can’t “become” gifted. It’s important to note that giftedness can sometimes be hidden by other issues and may not be identified until later in life (but that person has been gifted all along). 

Myth #2:  Gifted and talented are the same thing.

Fact:  While giftedness relates to a person’s natural abilities, “talented” is defined as performance within the top 10% of someone’s age-matched peers.  This is an important distinction because it highlights the fact that just because someone has natural ability, they may not perform well unless school and home nurture their potential.  At home, reading with your child, encouraging discussions on current affairs, exploring and nurturing your child’s interests and exposing them to diverse life experiences all help to maximise their potential. In addition, a student’s own temperament and levels of resilience, motivation and effort will influence the development of their natural abilities, or ‘gifts’, into ‘talents’.

Myth #3:  Ok, so “gifted” just means that a kid is really smart, usually at maths and science, right?

Fact:  Giftedness can occur in intellectual, creative, social or physical domains or a mixture of these.  Intellectually gifted children will generally demonstrate a rapid pace of learning and show an increased ability to make connections between complex pieces of information, think outside the box, and question why things are the way they are.  These abilities will apply not just to STEM subjects but to English, Languages and Humanities, Music and Sports too, in varying degrees in each child. 

Myth #4:  Gifted kids are really lucky because they find schoolwork so easy. 

Fact:  Life isn’t easy for gifted kids.  Gifted children often have asynchronous development. This basically means that their intellectual brain is far ahead of their social and emotional brain, so their development is lopsided.  They can suffer from big emotions and dysregulation because they don’t have the emotional skills to deal with the thoughts they are having about the world.  They may feel like they don’t fit in with their schoolmates, or may feel extreme pressure to perform – with consequences for mental health and school attendance.  Gifted students who aren’t identified or supported run a high risk of boredom, leading to disengagement, mental health problems and severe underachievement in the long run.  A number of gifted children are “twice exceptional”, otherwise known as “2E”, which means they fit the definition of gifted, and they also have a disability, such as ADHD, autism or dyslexia. 

So what are we doing at GCC for our high potential and gifted students?     

Identifying high potential and gifted students at GCC is a comprehensive process where we conduct both ability (relating to ‘gifts’) and achievement (‘talent’) testing over time and seek teacher recommendations to build a picture of whether a child has additional needs. As giftedness exists on a spectrum, from mild to profoundly gifted, and one gifted child is never identical to another gifted child, the pathways and level of intervention a child receives will vary too.  For many of our students, their needs are being met through the quality differentiation and high-impact teaching strategies of the GCC classroom teachers.  For those requiring more support to extend their thinking, GCC runs the Primary Honours Program and Middle School Horizons Program where students work with like-minded peers in a variety of subject areas. Our programs are designed to add the depth, abstraction, complexity and increased pace that these students require.  Working with accelerated outcomes and off-curriculum content, students’ critical and higher order thinking skills are pushed to the next level.  

Lisa Allum, High Ability Students Coordinator (P-9)

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