by the Schools of Thought Editors
Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community. Some comments have been edited for space or clarity.
(CNN) – Educator and author Carolyn Coil recently wrote a “My View” piece for Schools of Thought titled “Ten myths about gifted students and programs for the gifted.” In the article, Coil points out that American educators have struggled for more than 40 years with a definition for ‘giftedness’ as well as national criteria for identifying gifted students. As a result, there are misconceptions about gifted kids and the best ways for them to learn.
Readers posted over 700 comments in response to the piece.
Some readers questioned the focus on the ‘gifted’ label:
K: So many "gifted" kids out there, yet so few intelligent adults making scientific discoveries, helping mankind move forward. Personally, I think overbearing parents use the term, "gifted," FAR too much and since these kids grow up to be nothing special, why waste any particular time or funds on them? Let them be the kid everyone goes to for help with their schoolwork. Let them be the ones who never have to study. No need to put them up on a pedestal and give them a swelled head. They’re going to have enough trouble when they get into the real world and realize nothing comes easy any more.
Andrea Saylor: They wanted to test my daughter for "gifted" and I opted out. I didn't want her to be "different" from the other students. She was shy by nature. She tutored other students and went on to be valedictorian of her graduating class. She went on to get her Masters in Psychology. She now tests students for "gifted" "special needs" "autism" etc. Funny how things turn out......
Tom: In my experience working in science almost all our notions about 'giftedness' or 'genius', including a few in this article, are BS. Your success in science is almost entirely determined by your motivation, i.e. your willingness to spend a lot of time to learn something hard, not by any innate talent. And any talent you have always comes from years of practice. The rest is mostly luck.
By Carolyn Coil, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Carolyn Coil is a speaker, educator and author. She works with teachers, administrators, parents and students, offering strategies for raising achievement, developing creative and critical thinking skills, motivating underachievers, differentiating curriculum and assessing student performance. She has taught graduate-level gifted endorsement courses for more than 20 years. You can follow her on Twitter, @CarolynCoil.
(CNN) - American educators have struggled for more than 40 years to define giftedness. Yet even now, there is no universally agreed upon definition of what it means to be gifted. U.S. federal law defines gifted students as those who perform or who show promise of performing at high levels in any one of five categories: general intellectual ability, specific academic aptitude, creative or productive thinking, leadership ability or visual/performing arts.
Beyond that definition, there are no specific national criteria for identifying gifted and talented students nor does federal law provide funding or mandates for identification of these students or programming for them. This definition is left to the states.
The result has been a wide variety of state definitions and methods for the identification of gifted children. Some states have specific definitions for giftedness, while others have none. Some states require programs for gifted students, while others do not.
In other words, the availability of programs and services for gifted students depends for the most part on where a student lives and what state, school district or school he or she is in.
(CNN) - Decades ago, Hunter College in New York housed a "genius school" of 3- to 11-year-olds whose IQs averaged around 150. The school taught advanced subjects that most students wouldn't encounter until high school or college - chemistry, anatomy and foreign languages, to name a few.
As LIFE magazine noted in a March 1948 feature on the school:
The school they go to is P.S. 600, part of New York’s public-school system and the only institution in the U.S. devoted entirely to the teaching and study of gifted children. It is held in a wing of the college’s main building, in whose long corridors the bright little kids from 3 to 11 years old like to stop off for between-class chats.
Offhand, young geniuses would seem to present no immediate problems because they are usually bigger, healthier and even happier than average children. However, an educational problem exists simply because they are too bright for their age. If they are promoted rapidly through school on the basis of their studies they will end up as social misfits, unable to enjoy the society of children their own age. On the other hand, if they are held back with their own age group, their quick minds are apt to stagnate.
Hunter children know they are smart, but they are more humble than cocky about their intelligence…. [A]lthough their interest are advanced, their plans for the future have a refreshing normality. There is a 9-year-old who wants to be a fur trapper, an 8-year-old who wants to be a babysitter and a 7-year-old who wants to be president of the Coca-Cola Company.
By Chandra Moseley, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Chandra Moseley is a working, single mom. A resident of a Colorado city, she makes sure to expose her daughter to small-town living through weekly trips to the Rocky Mountains.
(CNN) - My daughter, who is 5, was identified last year as "gifted.” Well, I honestly had never properly understood what being "gifted" meant. I naively thought, "Oh, my baby is so advanced, she is just so smart!”
For those of you who are truly unaware of what being gifted means, let me help you understand.
Gifted students are defined by the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) as those who demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude or competence in one or more domains.
The part of the definition that’s missing - and what I so desperately needed to understand - is the social and behavioral issues that may come with giftedness.
For one thing, my daughter, Nya, is a perfectionist. She gets frustrated even if she only slightly draws outside of the lines. She also gets unnerved by certain loud noises (buzzing or toilets flushing) and even the seams on her socks. I’ve had to turn her socks inside out because the seam on her toes irritated her so much. I thought she was just being fussy. FULL POST