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Developing talent requires hard work and commitment

The development of ability or talent is a lifelong process. It can be evident in young children as exceptional performance on tests and/or other measures of ability or as a rapid rate of learning, compared to other students of the same age, or in actual achievement in a domain. As individuals mature through childhood to adolescence, however, achievement and high levels of motivation in the domain become the primary characteristics of their giftedness. Various factors can either enhance or inhibit the development and expression of abilities.

Some of these factors relate to important  life skills such as the ability to be organised (set goals, meet time frames), be persistent (keep going when things get hard), be resilient (recover from set backs, keep calm and decrease anxiety), be confident(belief in oneself) and get along with others. This is one of the reasons our school explicitly includes the social and emotional program "You Can Do It" for years K-6.

What is giftedness?

The quick response is that there is, as yet, no universally agreed upon answer to this question. Giftedness, intelligence, and talent are fluid concepts and may look different in different contexts and cultures. Even within schools you will find a range of personal beliefs about the word "gifted," which has become a term with multiple meanings and much nuance. For this reason The Department of Education adopts the definition and underlying principles of giftedness and talent based on Gagné's (2003) Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent.(see below)

At Newtown North Public School we assert that there are children who demonstrate high performance, or who have the potential to do so, and that we have a responsibility to provide optimal educational experiences for talents to flourish in as many children as possible, for the benefit of the individual and the community.

What do the terms gifted and talented mean in the context of education?

Newtown North Public School adopts the definition and underlying principles of giftedness and talent based on Gagné's (2003) Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent. The Gagné (2002) model (DMGT) makes a distinction between untrained abilities (gifts or aptitudes) and systematically developed skills (talents). It defines giftedness and talent as follows:

  • Giftedness: The potential to perform at a level significantly beyond what might be expected from one's age-peers in any area of human ability. It is important to note that a student may be gifted in any one of the cognitive, creative, socio-affective or sensori-motor domains, or in several, or in all, or in an area not categorised by domains.
  • Talent: An achievement at a level significantly beyond what might be expected from age-peers in fields such as arts, technology, academic pursuits, athletics, sports and social action.

 

The key to this definition is that it distinguishes between outstanding potential (giftedness) and outstanding performance (talent). To understand this definition more fully follow this link.

The difference between outstanding potential (giftedness) and outstanding performance (talent)

Try thinking of these famous talented people when they were in Kindergarten.Imagine Jamie Oliver, Michael Jordan, Einstein, Barack Obama, Cathy Freeman, Pat O'Shane, Mick Jagger and Don Bradman as five year olds! Jamie may not have been creating culinary delights in the Home Corner but I suspect he had boundless energy, talked alot and experimented with the playdough! If Bradman had been born in America he may have become a great baseballer! Who knows? We have to be constantly looking for the signs of 'giftedness'. Giftedness doesn't always show up when we think it should. Einstein, for instance didn't talk until he was three. 

The key to this definition is that it distinguishes between outstanding potential (giftedness) and outstanding performance (talent). The words 'gifted' and 'talented' really describe two different stages in the learning journey from giftedness to talent. As with most journeys there are many factors (catalysts) that impact both positively or negatively along the way. Such catalysts include culture, economics, gender, etc and the factors that influence them, such as motivation to achieve, personal interests, presence or absence of an adult support system, as well as the quality of educational support provided. In differentiating between potential and performance, this view of giftedness acknowledges the occurrence of students who may be gifted underachievers or at risk of non-identification.

Why is there a policy for gifted and talented students ?

The terms gifted and talented are simply the words we use to identify a student or group of students with particular learning needs. Educators use many terms to identify students with particular learning needs. Terms such as Hearing and Visually impaired, Developmentally delayed, English Second Language and Autistic are used to identify students with particular learning needs. The purpose of identification is to ensure that appropriate learning programs respond to the unique needs of students not to 'label' children.  Gifted students have particular learning needs. This is why the NSW Department of Education has a  Gifted and Talented Education Policy. You can download a copy of our school's policy here.

Who are the gifted and talented?

It is difficult to generalise about students who are gifted, because their characteristics and needs are personal and unique. However, such students often

  • learn at a faster pace and in greater depth than their age peers
  • comprehend complex ideas more deeply and enjoy exploring complex concepts
  • exhibit interests that differ from those of their peers.

They may also have:

  • an unusually well-developed sense of justice and fairness
  • emotional intensity or 'overexciteabilties'
  • play interests that are more like those of older children
  • a tendency to prefer the companionship of children a little older, or sometimes many years older
  • an enhanced capacity to empathise with the feelings of others
  • a more mature sense of humour than age-peers.
  • Read more at http://www.adifferentplace.org/characteristics.htm

Asynchronous development - Something you need to know about

It is important to note that not all gifted children will display all of these characteristics, and often display differing rates of physical, cognitive and emotional development, referred to as asynchronous development. It is important to be aware that many parents of gifted children are far more concerned by the challenges surrounding asynchronous development than anything else. The five year old child who confidently converses like a ten year old, reads novels in their spare time, yet can hardly hold a pencil, appears to daydream alot and is prone to tantrums and tears is quite a challenge for any parent or teacher. Is my child gifted and talented? Follow this link for more information.

Is my child gifted?

'Giftedness' does not always look like and sound like the way we think it should.  A child that is keen to learn, learns well, performs well, gets along with others and progresses well is clearly a bright, happy child. Such children are certainly a joy to teach but are not necessarily gifted. Giftedness is often more easily identified by the 'distance' of variance from the mythical norm. Both giftedness and talent can be suspected when the level of potential of performance is significantly beyond what might be expected from the child's age-peers. The greater the distance, the greater the level of giftedness. The greater the level of giftedness, the greater the level of support and intervention required. Beware! Highly gifted children often show signs of asynchronous development. Many, many gifted students have been on the Reading Recovery program and received learning support. Many gifted students have poor handwriting skills and can be clumsy.

Being gifted can be frustrating, lonely and challenging. This why programs for gifted and talented students also include catering for their unique social and emotional needs. Imagine how hard it is for a five year that likes to chat about molecular structure and blackholes to find common ground with their age peers! This is why OC classes and Selective Schools were developed. Grouping or clustering these children with 'like minded' students provides them with a much needed cohort where they find friends and also find that are not always the 'smartest' kid! However, some gifted children also show their talents from any early age. They may excel at an outstanding level in one area or many areas. Highly gifted students often excel in many areas. Some gifted students simply don't show their abilities at school. This is because giftedness and talent is often viewed only in terms of academic performance. You may be surprised or even relieved to know that parents are good at recognising the signs of giftedness in a child. If you have a number of children or have some basis for comparison you will have some idea as to what is considered 'normal' or 'typical' development.

Being gifted can be frustrating, lonely and challenging. This why programs for gifted and talented students also include catering for their unique social and emotional needs. Imagine how hard it is for a five year that likes to chat about molecular structure and blackholes to find common ground with their age peers! This is why OC classes and Selective Schools were developed. Grouping or clustering these children with 'like minded' students provides them with a much needed cohort where they find friends and also find that are not always the 'smartest' kid! However, some gifted children also show their talents from any early age. They may excel at an outstanding level in one area or many areas. Highly gifted students often excel in many areas. Some gifted students simply don't show their abilities at school. This is because giftedness and talent is often viewed only in terms of academic performance. You may be surprised or even relieved to know that parents are good at recognising the signs of giftedness in a child. If you have a number of children or have some basis for comparison you will have some idea as to what is considered 'normal' or 'typical' development.
If you think your child may be gifted please
follow this link and complete the checklist on Things my Child has done. Make an appointment with your child's class teacher and bring along the completed checklist along with any other support documentation you may have.

 

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