Is Giftedness Really Every Child’s Birthright?

Genius is one percent inspiration.

…and ninety-nine percent perspiration.

(THOMAS ALVA EDISON)

For centuries intelligence has been thought to be what separated humans from other animals. The ability to reason and continue to learn and better himself has been the standard that we measure all creatures against. However, in recent times the idea that emotion rather than intellect could be the fine line between men and significantly lower forms of life has become popular. Let’s take a look closer at this matter!

Giftedness is every child birthright! Well… sounds it is a good news, but is it true? The problem with the current conception of giftedness used in school is that it is based primarily on tests-usually IQ tests. An intelligence quotient, or IQ, is a score derived from one of several different standardized tests designed to assess intelligence.

IQ scores are used in many contexts: as predictors of educational achievement or special needs, by social scientists who study the distribution of IQ scores in populations and the relationships between IQ score and other variables, and as predictors of job performance and income. The average IQ scores for many populations have been rising at an average rate of three points per decade since the early 20th century, a phenomenon called the Flynn effect. It is disputed whether these changes in scores reflect real changes in intellectual abilities.

IQ or other cognitive ability tests is the most often used to select students for entrance into gifted programs. This serious limited definition of giftedness discriminates against kids who may be poor test-taker yet who possess other talents and traits such as creativity, curiosity, leadership and problem solving ability.

Whether or not IQ tests are an accurate measure of intelligence is open to debate. It is difficult to define exactly what constitutes intelligence; it may be the case that IQ scores represent a very specific type of intelligence.

In contrast, one of the most flexible and useful models currently available for challenging the outmoded IQ concept of giftedness is the theory of Multiple Intelligences developed by Professor Howard Gardner at Harvard University. In his award winning book Frames of Mind, Gardner suggests that there at least seven basic intelligences that need to be addressed in any attempt to understand how the mind works:

  • Linguistic: children with highly linguistic intelligence have a knack for language and learn best by saying, hearing and seeing words. The best ways to motivate them include providing them with books, records and tape, engaging them in discussion and creating opportunities for informal writing.
  • Spatial: kids with spatial intelligence usually learn visually and need to be taught through images, pictures, metaphor and color. Use films, slides, diagrams, maps, chart, art activities and vivid stories to help them learn.

My little artist- Aubrey was in her art class

  • Logical-mathematical: children who have logical proclivities often think in term of concepts and look for abstract pattern and relationship. Provide them with materials they can experiment with, such as science resources as well as logic puzzles and games. Allow them plenty of time to explore new ideas, and offer rational explanations for their probing questions.

 

 

  • Bodily-kinesthetic: children who excel in this area learn best by moving their bodies and working with their hands. They need learning activities that are kinetic, dynamic and visceral-role-playing, drama, creative movement, hands-on activities, and sports of all types.

My Sporty Girl-Aubrey was so excited to play bowling

  • Musical: musically gifted children learn best through rhythm and melody. They can learn anything more easily it is sung, tapped out or whistle. Provide music lesson ( if the child wants them), opportunities for music appreciation, rhythmic activities and sing-along time.

My Future Pianist-Fernando was so excited to explore the sound of the piano

  • Interpersonal (social): children with this ability learn best by relating to and cooperating with people. Let them teach other kids. Provide social games that emphasize important concept and skills. Help them get involved  in community projects, school clubs and volunteer organization where they can learn by doing things with others.

"Your secret save with me"-sharing the secret with friends....

  • Intrapersonal (highly developed sense of self): children who lean in this direction frequently learn best when left to themselves Let them develop their own learning activities, or give them self-correcting teaching materials they can use on their own.

 

left it to himself... and he will learn his best...

According to Gardner, every child has all seven types of intelligence in different combination. One child may be weak in math, a whiz at spelling, a naturally social person, and a mediocre athlete; another might be a math genius, atone-deaf singer, a brilliant reader and a dud in the personality department.  In Gardner mode, every child has a chance to be gifted in something. Even the so-called retarded child may demonstrate high level of musical, interpersonal or kinesthetic intelligence.

Regrettably, most of our nation’s classrooms are set up for verbal and logical children. Kids with especially sharp reading, vocabulary, reasoning and computational skills do well on test and most likely to end up in classes for gifted.. Children whose strength lie elsewhere-in art, music, dance, mechanical reasoning, social savvy, intuitive perception or sheer creative imagination-may perform poorly in school and not qualify for gifted education.

Maybe if we identified and treated each child as gifted, and provide all of them with the kinds of enriched programs described above, many of our educational problems would be resolved…..

well, may be!!

Muscat, Sultanate of Oman-October 2011

Reference:

Armstrong, Thomas. (1991). Awakening Your Child’s Natural Genius. Enhancing Curiosity, Creativity and Learning Ability. Penguin Putnam Inc. New York

Intelligent Quotient. Retrieved from Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligence_quotient

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2 responses to “Is Giftedness Really Every Child’s Birthright?

  1. “Children whose strengths lie elsewhere – in art, music, dance, mechanical reasoning, social savvy, intuitive perception or sheer creative imagination -may perform poorly in school and not qualify for gifted education.”
    This statement reflects poorly on the public school education that students receive. In budget cuts, some of the first things to go are art, music and dance programs, leaving children who perform well in these areas to feel lost. It seems to be that if you can’t pass a test or do well academically, it means you will not succeed in life. This is sad to me as I have a sister who did really well in music (vocally) and truly had a passion for singing. However, because music is not something that is measured by a test to get into college (i.e. the SATs), she constantly heard, “you can’t get anywhere just by singing.” That shouldn’t be true and maybe she could have been a phenomenal music teacher. But, because her test scores did not “measure up,” she only went to community college for two years and received an Associate’s Degree in General Studies.
    Thank you for speaking to Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences theory. It creates a much bigger picture on how children should be assessed!

  2. Growing up in a Caribbean household, IQ was never really spoken, it’s either you are smart or you dumb. With this said every parent wants their child to exceed everyone’s expectations. Some children are actually born smart and others are taught to be smart. But with proper development that can happen.

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