The little things young children do and say can be so amazing that it’s hard to imagine not thinking of all children as gifted. The very word is fraught, though, and has led to years of debate about what constitutes a gifted child. How should the quality be measured and how should the littlest learners who seem to show special talent or promise should be isolated? Or should everyone learn together?
Joan Franklin Smutny, the founder and director of the Center for the Gifted at National-Louis University, said gifted children express creativity and a unique problem solving ability, and said she believes giftedness can be determined easily in the early years. “It’s very important to nurture their nature….there are so many expressions of giftedness.”
Smutny maintains that no test scores are needed to identify a gifted child, and said they are hungry for new challenges. She said giftedness should be identified early so special attention can be paid to their education, while Clara Hemphill, an author and editor, argued that there is no need to test and isolate gifted children.
Hemphill said the focus should instead be on educating all children while giving them additional opportunities. Hemphill had an interesting piece on the topic recently in the New York Times. “What happens to gifted kids is what often happens to all kids that don’t fit the mold,” Hemphill said. She said it’s most important “to work harder,” to provide opportunties for all children.