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Gifted & Creative Education: Developing Talents of Children in Schools (March 2018): Issues in Gifted Education

By Stephen T. Schroth and Kimberly McCormick

Issues in Gifted Education

Myriad perplexing philosophical issues and debates have arisen in the field of gifted and creative education. Scholars have argued whether giftedness truly exists; how the labels gifted and creative can be quantified; the role of schools in supporting gifted and creative learners; and what services should be offered to support the unique cognitive, social, and emotional needs of this vast and varied group.  For those seeking a coherent framework geared to both instructors and service providers, Fundamentals of Gifted Education: Considering Multiple Perspectives, edited by Carolyn Callahan and Holly Hertberg-Davis, offers ideal background concerning these philosophical issues. Another option is From Giftedness to Gifted Education: Reflecting Theory in Practice, edited by Jonathan Pluckers, Anne Rinn, and Matthew Makel, which introduces the fundamental issues in gifted and creative education and applies them to practical situations. Another alternative is Christine Weber, Cecilia Boswell, and Wendy Behrens’s Exploring Critical Issues in Gifted Education: A Case Studies Approach. The authors’ readings are grounded in practice that allows immersion in a problem-based learning scenario and permits insight into the philosophical issues that are rooted in gifted and creative education.

There are many ways to define giftedness and creativity and seemingly just as many assessments in place to identify these children. Across the United States, there is enormous variability in practices and instruments used to identify, attract, and retain bright and talented children from all backgrounds for gifted education programs. A vast body of research supports a set of specific procedures for identifying students with high abilities in an equitable, fair, valid, and defensible way. Identification of Students for Gifted and Talented Programs, edited by Joseph Renzulli, addresses the challenges educators face in accurately identifying gifted and talented students, highlighting a compilation of the most frequently used approaches. Identifying Gifted Students: A Practical Guide, edited by Susan Johnsen, aligns with the updated National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) Pre-K to Grade 12 Gifted Program Standards and the NAGC/Council for Exceptional Children professional development standards. The practices examined are applicable to any schools wanting to adhere to rigorous national standards, utilize multiple assessments, and identify an increasingly diverse population of gifted students. Two texts offer special focus on the identification of diverse gifted learners. In Increasing Diversity in Gifted Education: Research-Based Strategies for Identification and Program Services,  Monique Felder et al. provide much-needed information about how to put into practice procedures and tools that will best reach high-ability students of all cultural, linguistic, and ethnic backgrounds. And Jonathan Plucker and Scott Peters’s  Excellence Gaps in Education: Expanding Opportunities for Talented Students examines the full scope of the issue and argues that excellence gaps should be nonexistent if appropriate interventions and inclusion strategies are in place.

The gifted and creative population has a number of subsets—girls, boys, students from rural areas, children living in poverty, and traditionally underserved groups, to name just a few. Special Populations in Gifted Education: Understanding Our Most Able Students from Diverse Backgrounds, edited by Jaime Castellano and Andrea Dawn Frazier, provides a variety of best practices to deal with the extreme differences and range of needs within the gifted and creative population. Joy Navan’s Nurturing the Gifted Female: A Guide for Educators and Parents examines the disengagement of young, gifted females and highlights realistic strategies to support and nurture them throughout their educational careers. Theresa Perry, Claude Steele, and Asa Hilliard’s Young, Gifted, and Black: Promoting High Achievement among African-American Students attempts to shift the conversation to African American achievement in schools and provides a new understanding of this complex special population. Finally, two texts that give key foundational information about the unique social and emotional needs of gifted and creative learners are The Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Children: What Do We Know?, edited by Maureen Neihart, Steven Pfeiffer, and Tracy Cross, and Tracy Cross’s On the Social and Emotional Lives of Gifted Children: Understanding and Guiding Their Development,  both of which break down the myths, research, and implications regarding development of gifted students. Highlighted topics include suicide, depression, underachievement, emotional vulnerabilities, bullying, motivation, and counseling.  

Works Cited