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Booktalking "Gifted Children" by Ellen Winner

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According to Winner, gifted children share three characteristics: precocity, insistence on marching to their own drummers and a rage to master. Savants show extraordinary ability to recall, calculate, and draw, but they do not creatively alter their domains. Gifted kids spend more time alone, which they need in order to develop their gifts. They tend to handle solitude better than their peers.

Some gifted kids underachieve in order to fit in and avoid ridicule. We could achieve more scientific and artistic breakthroughs in this country if we devoted more educational resources to the development of gifted individuals. Gifted kids can skip grades, be placed in programs for the gifted and talented, or be put in special schools for the gifted, such as the Nueva School in California. Gifted education is considered to be special education. Individual Education Programs (IEPs) can be prepared for them. 

The Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and creativity are two different animals. IQ measures only verbal and mathematical aptitude, and math influences music ability. Some eminent adults who alter their domains were not prodigies, and some were not recognized as gifted in their youths. Many prodigies can master technique, but some creativity is also necessary in order to excel on a different level. Creators are prolific, and they go against the grain. Some of them are lucky enough to develop their skills at a time when society is poised for change.

The myths and realities about gifted children follow.

 

Myth #1: Giftedness is global.

Reality #1: Most gifts are specific to a particular domain.

Myth #2: Some kids are talented but not gifted.

Reality #2: Referring to high academic ability as gifted and high artistic ability as talent is a dubious and unnecessary distinction.

Myth #3: All gifted children have exceptional IQ.

Reality #3: Artistically and musically gifted children do not necessarily have high IQs.

Myths #4: Biology is completely responsible for giftedness.

Myth #5: The environment is completely responsible for giftedness.

Realities #4 & #5: Both play a part in giftedness. People need natural talent, but hard work is necessary in order to develop the talent.

Myth #6: Driving parents are detrimental to gifted kids.

Reality #6: Parents who are pushy and nurturing help gifted kids the most in pursuing their talents. It can be problematic if the parents value the gift over the child. 

Myth #7: Gifted kids are glowing with psychological health.

Reality #7: Moderately gifted kids are well-adjusted, but more highly gifted kids are often stigmatized by peers who are different from them. They face social problems due to the intensity of their interests.

Myth #8: All children are gifted.

Reality #8: Some people have higher abilities than others in certain areas.

Myth #9: Gifted children become eminent adults.

Reality #9: Some gifted children become eminent adults, and some do not. Eminent people are rare in general.

 

Gifted Children: Myths and Realities by Ellen Winner, 1996

 

I did not agree with everything that was said in the book, and it tended to be repetitive at times. However, this is one of the most interesting books that I have read on giftedness. Japan and the education and achievement of its children is emphasized in the book. I saw a public broadcast special on happiness; Japan was rated as the least happy country due to its emphasis on work above all else, and Denmark was rated as the happiest due to its community housing systems and universal healthcare. 

 

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