Friday, December 28, 2012

Favorite Comments of '12: Rivka, AmyP, and Corin Goodwin

On Red herring du jour: defining giftedness

Rivka said...
I've seen people argue that giftedness is "really" a set of behavioral issues and emotional overexcitabilities, and that high achievement is beside the point. Some go so far as to count high achievement against a diagnosis of giftedness, because a truly gifted child is supposedly too offbeat to get good grades.

I have a friend whose daughter was denied math acceleration, despite maxing out all of her tests with little effort, because she seemed happy enough in a regular class. She didn't complain about boredom or fail to turn in homework or show the kind of irritated noncompliance the teacher thought indicated giftedness - she just worked diligently and accurately. Hence she didn't "need" to be advanced.
AmyP said...
"She didn't complain about boredom or fail to turn in homework or show the kind of irritated noncompliance the teacher thought indicated giftedness - she just worked diligently and accurately. Hence she didn't "need" to be advanced."

Isn't that the sort of standard that would unjustly penalize girls for working hard and trying to please teachers?
Rivka said...
Amy: yes, yes it would.

Don't even get me started on the assumption that high achieving girls are just compliant hard workers, while high achieving boys have natural talent. (Yes, I have heard that said to explain away girls' better math grades.)
Corin Goodwin said...
There are so many problems with your post I truly don't know where to begin. Even your last line - "And as for what to do with that information, the only thing relevant to K12 education is to make sure that everyone is appropriately challenged in all subjects." - completely circumvents the reality of social & emotional issues involved in giftedness.

It's interesting, there are many places where you start to make a great point and then sort of veer off and undermine it. I'd suggest a couple of things:
1. Broaden your horizons. Checking with your one psychologist friend doesn't begin to address the multiple viewpoints, nor does it necessarily take into account neurological factors, additional research, etc. It's just one person's opinion.
2. If you are following one list or group, try following several. Same reason as above.
3. Do your own homework. There's a tremendous amount of new research on giftedness, and none of it supports the Multiple Intelligences theory that you seem to be a proponent of. In point of fact, you are correct that most attempts to identify giftedness have limitations - but that is partly because many of those attempts (eg. WISC) were not intended to be such, and even more so because the tools are being improperly used and interpreted by the "experts" using them.
4. Stop thinking about giftedness as strictly education-related. it's not. My first book discussed that point and the one I'm working on now takes that even further. Learning is a global activity, not just something that happens in a classroom, and being gifted has a variety of aspects (and comorbidities, dual diagnoses, and overexcitabilities) that exist in all areas of a person's life. (Note I say "person's life" because giftedness doesn't end at 18 years old.)

I think you have begun a good discussion, but it's only that - a beginning - and there is far more information available than you have apparently come into contact with.

Thanks for considering...

Katharine Beals said...
"There are so many problems with your post I truly don't know where to begin."

You might begin by citing some peer-reviewed, empirically-based articles on giftedness in reputable cognitive science journals. (As opposed to secondary sources that may or may not cite reputable primary sources).

"Checking with your one psychologist friend doesn't begin to address the multiple viewpoints."

That's why (see above) I also did a Google scholar search (for peer-reviewed cog sci articles that operationalize giftedness.) If I missed something, I invite you to send a link to it.

"None of it supports the Multiple Intelligences theory that you seem to be a proponent of."

A careful reading of this blog will reveal extreme skepticism towards MI theory. It's important not to confuse MI theory with the empirical reality that different children have different academic strengths and weaknesses, seen in the extreme, for example, in children on the autistic spectrum.

"Stop thinking about giftedness as strictly education-related."

I'm not sure where you get the impression that I think giftedness is strictly education related. I do write that "the only thing relevant to K12 education is to make sure that everyone is appropriately challenged in all subjects." In other words, when it comes to things that are related to education, I view the relevant aspects of giftedness as those that are related to education. That's nearly a tautology, however. In particular, it does not rule out the existence of other aspects of giftedness, to the extent that giftedness can be operationalized at all.

I appreciate your thoughts, but you might make a stronger case if you read this post a bit more carefully and then cited some actual research that contradicts what I've written here.

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