Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Defining Moment - James Delisle's response to the NAGC's definition of Giftedness

To me, this article from James Delisle on a specific definition of giftedness  reinforces the reasons why, in New Zealand, we ask schools and communities to develop their own definitions of giftedness, specific to their cultural perspectives and advise that they include the word 'potential' as well as achievement (giftedness is a matter of kind, degree, and is a developmental process).  However,  continuing discussion around differing perspectives is healthy and can serve to clarify and enhance our understanding.

Well worth a read:   A Defining Moment | Hoagies' Gifted:

I'm adding a comment that I wrote about this on another website:

In New Zealand we focus upon schools and communities establishing their own (informed) definition of giftedness and talent.  Why?  Because we are a bi-cultural society firstly, and then also, a multi-cultural society.  Giftedness has differing cultural perspectives. To inflict a 'white middle-class' definition upon all 

communities could be conceived as paternalistic at best, and as arrogant at worst.  So here we encourage schools and their communities to consider a wide range of definitions (including e.g. Francoys Gagne's DMGT and Renzulli's model) and to consider what giftedness means through the lens of the cultures in their school and community.

 In New Zealand, when drafting their own definition, schools are expected to include gifted potential as well as achievement (because giftedness is also a developmental process).  This means the school accepts that there are those at risk of non-identification:  by gender, ethnicity, and physical and learning disabilities (e.g. 2 e or twice exceptional).  It means that schools identification processes should not be limited by only those who have demonstrable success but that they should also consider that giftedness and  talent emerges often when the opportunities are presented.  To paraphrase Stephanie Tolan 'a cheetah in a cage may well pace and fling itself against the walls but it will not run at 70 mph". It is difficult to identify a caged cheetah as gifted if its high speed running ability cannot be demonstrated.

Other expectations of a 'gifted' definition are that it covers multiple areas (giftedness is a matter of kind - what kind?) and that it has a matter of degree (how gifted? - outstanding / above average / exceptional) when compared to others of similar age, background and experience.  Similarly, cultural perspectives of giftedness are important.

The whole reason for having a definition at all is surely that it should underpin WHO we are looking to identify as gifted so that we can meet their learning needs. Hence, just as there are degrees of giftedness, from mild to profound, similarly, many (but not all) gifted can have their needs met within the classroom, with appropriate planning and provisions - which may include acceleration.  Others will need to have provisions extend well beyond the classroom.  But ALL deserve to have their giftedness identified, so that their learing and social emotional needs can be met.

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