Are you gifted if no one can see it? Some would say no, you are only gifted when you do something others deem remarkable. When giftedness is removed from the competitive realm of recognized achievement, it becomes clear that it is a form of atypical development, which leads to unique experiences throughout the life cycle.
- Is there such a thing as giftedness?
- Aren’t all people gifted in some way?
- Doesn’t this type of labeling give a child a swelled head?
- Is giftedness just the result of “hothousing” by helicopter parents?
- Are programs for gifted children elitist and undemocratic?
- Can’t smart kids make it on their own?
- Won’t the other kids catch up eventually?
- Does giftedness disappear or cause untimely death (“Early ripe, early rot”)?
- Are people with unusual gifts born with some sort of compensating handicap?
- Is there a link between giftedness and insanity?
- Is the notion of giftedness obsolete?
- Shouldn’t we be talking instead about talents in different domains or multiple intelligences
Few topics engender such strong reactions. While it is comfortable to acknowledge that some individuals are less intelligent than we are, the idea that some individuals are smarter than us poses an emotional threat to the insecure (Persson, 2009). Tannenbaum (1983) discloses the history of “persistent undercurrents of suspicion and negativism”—widespread resentment—toward those who are highly intelligent (p. 3). The gifted are lonely in a world of misunderstanding.
It is not uncommon to hear an educator say to a parent in a patronizing tone, “We believe all our children are gifted.” While all children are a gift to the world, saying “all children are gifted,” robs the term of any meaning. It would be equally absurd to say, “We believe all our children are intellectually disabled.” Individuals with impaired intellectual development, whose intelligence measures 2, 3 or 4 standard deviations below the norm, deal with specific psychological issues. The same is true for those who are developmentally advanced, with IQ scores 2, 3, 4 or more standard deviations above the norm. Those whose abstract reasoning is significantly keener than the majority have qualitatively different life experiences and qualitatively different psychological needs.