Rethinking Giftedness and Gifted Education: A Proposed Direction Forward Based on Psychological Science

Read the Full Text

While promising future athletes and musicians tend to be identified and actively supported from an early age in the United States, the same intense support is not always provided to children who display academic promise – thus hurting the ability of our most talented individuals to compete in the global economy. This major new report explores the reasons for this disconnect, and brings psychological science to bear on the question of how to better nurture young talent across all fields of endeavor.

Giftedness_Image_croppedAcademic giftedness is often excluded from major conversations on educational policy as a result of misconceptions about what academic giftedness is and how it arises. People may assume that high-ability students will make it on their own, but research shows that talented children in all domains – academic as well as athletic or musical – need to have opportunities that expose them to advanced knowledge, skills, and values in their field of interest.  Research on optimal performance also reveals that different areas of talent have different developmental trajectories and that some fields are much better than others at identifying where students are in these developmental trajectories and providing them with a roadmap for achieving success. The science of optimal performance, applied to traditional academic disciplines as well as sports, music, and other domains, can help educators to meet the specific needs of high-ability students in every field.

The overall goal of gifted education, according to the authors, should be to increase the number of individuals who make path breaking, field-altering discoveries and creative contributions by their products, innovations, and performances. Their report demonstrates the need for a new, research-based framework for identifying and supporting giftedness in all domains in the United States.

About the Authors

Special thanks to the James S. McDonnell Foundation for its generous support of the development and distribution of this report.

Editorial: Educating the Gifted

By Norman R. Augustine

Read the Full Text

Leave a comment below and continue the conversation.


I have noticed the lack of interest in exemplary academic work by students in the last 24 years as I have published 967 history research papers by secondary students from 44 states and 38 other countries in The Concord Review…

Will Fitzhugh

I frequently see gifted children in my practice for handwriting help. There are numerous studies that link higher intelligence with lower fine motor skills and thus poor handwriting. Yet, these kids are expected to write legibly and write more because they are gifted and it becomes a real challenge for them. While they can rattle off a long verbal answer, when it comes to writing it down they often use short answers.

Megan Eldridge MOT, OTR/L
Scribble 2 Script

My husband often says that you could be the most gifted pianist in the world, but if no one sits you in front of a piano . . .
This is the state of gifted education in Florida. Everyone assumes these kids carry around their own pianos!

I was the high school gifted support teacher during the last 2 1/2 years of my 37 1/2 years of teaching. I loved being in my room 8 periods each day interacting with the students. I would try to find a commonality with each one so we could bond.

I would never predict what would happen in my room one day to the next. Yes, we tried Mentos with Diet Coke; yes, I brought a bagpiper in to play; I had an aquarium. We took a trip to the National Zoo.

I had students enter the Science Fair–none had entered in the previous 9-10 years. Some students would spontaneously converse in foreign languages. Some students I had to kick in the rear end to make sure they met course responsibilities.

I tried to make sure that they met deadlines for SAT testing, scholarship applications, and college application.

The biggest hurdle I had to overcome was my administrators who did not understand the needs of gifted high school students. One administrator denied my application for free, educational DirecTV since we would have to move the dish during an upcoming renovation. During my last half year, the principal had me traveling to six or seven rooms and the students just could not find me or each other. I requested the old, library office for use but the librarian convinced the principal that the room was needed each period for “graphic novels” (comic books).

Frustrated, I retired half way through the year knowing that I let my students and parents down. I miss my students but still follow their college successes in the newspaper.

Leave a comment.

Comments go live after a short delay. Thank you for contributing.