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In the disjunctive approach one if gifted if one has a high level in any of the abilities attributed to giftedness. "One is gifted if one has a high level of this ability or if one has a high level of that ability, and so forth" (Borland, 1997, p. 14). In essence," Disjunctive definitions imply that there are different and distinct forms of giftedness and lead to the logical conclusion that programs must be multifaceted to address these various kinds of giftedness adequately" (Borland, 1997, p. 14). In the view of some educationists (Borland, 1997) this stance has some practical problems with regard to the development of curricula and identification issues; it is obviously more difficult to identify gifted children across a wide range of different types of intelligence, each with different criteria of giftedness.
Conjunctive theories and perceptions of giftedness are more integraive and holistic in design. An example is the theory posited by Joseph Renzulli (1986) was discussed above. In this view,
All three of these qualities must be present to constitute creative-productive (as opposed to "school-house") giftedness, so a single profile, composed of multiple traits, emerges. This convergence makes identification and curriculum development much simpler than it is when disjunctive conceptions are used (Borland,1997, p. 14).
Another conjunctive view of giftedness is Sternberg's (1988) theory of giftedness. This is a "triarchic "theory, which is composed of"...three subtheories, a contextual subtheory, an experiential subtheory, and a componential subtheory. Each of these theoretical components presents an essential aspect of human intelligence. Sternberg suggest that "... we view intelligence theories in terms of the metaphors on which they are based: geographic, computational, biological, epistemological, anthropological, sociological, and systems" (Plucker J. 2001). This is in contrast to the more conventional approach suggested by Gardner and others who attempt "...to classify these theories based on their dominant perspective: psychometric, developmental, biological, cognitive..." (Plucker J. 2001). It is also suggested that the theory put forward by Sternberg, while theoretically challenging, is becoming more popular among educationists.
A the Triarchic Theory of Intelligence which has received...less attention from educators primarily due to its complexity, is well-known and may be gaining momentum..." (Plucker J. 2001).
An interesting book that aids in the understanding of the plethora of theories on giftedness and which provides a global perspective on giftedness is Talent in context: Historical and social perspectives on giftedness, by Friedman and Rogers (1998). The book deals with five central themes: namely the interaction between social and historical forces in the understanding and development of talent; the identification of talent from an interdisciplinary perspective; the expression of talent from multiple contexts; the influence of significant others on high-level production and talent; and the idea expertise of as a prototype within the conceptualization of giftedness and talent..." (Kendrick, 2001, p. 243)
In particular the third section of the book dealing with Conceptualizing and Reconceptualizing Giftedness should be noted. This section, identifies three perspectives in the development of gifts and talents from childhood, through maturity, and ending in adulthood; summarizes and integrates the nine views of expertise and relates each to giftedness; and provides a historical approach to the idea of talent development by debunking myths and providing models for its continued use (Kendrick, 2001, p. 243).
Qualities and attributes of the gifted child work which has value in the debate about giftedness is Barbara Clark's informative book, Growing up Gifted (1988) This work provides an extensive listing the various characteristics and attributes commonly associated with the gifted individual. The book also states that while no one individual will have all the attributes of giftedness it is important for the parent to be fully cognizant of these various attributes in order to recognize them in their child. These characteristics or attributes include intellect (thinking), affective (feeling), as well as physical, Intuitive, and societal aspects (Clark, 1988).
There is an increasing emphasis on the importance of the recognition of qualities and attributes of giftedness, especially in the younger child. In a report to Congress, Commissioner of Education Sydney P. Marland (1972) stated that "...the most neglected minority in American education was that group of youngsters identified as gifted "(Colangelo and Dettmann, 1983). This implies that the parents of gifted children may face the problematic situation of a child in an educational environment which does not provide adequately for the needs of the gifted. Another factor which complicates the issue is that there are no guidelines as to the effectiveness and appropriateness of special "gifted programs." This places the focus on the difficult decision that parents of gifted children may have to make.
In virtually every program for gifted children in the country, parents make the decision of letting a son or daughter participate. Further, educators are still debating the merits of special classes for those who are gifted. Considerable disagreement remains on the issue of whether special programs help gifted youngsters or if they actually cause harm to peer relationships. In the face of this confusion, parents are asked to make decisions (Colangelo and Dettmann, 1983).
In general the following are usually considered as central categories in identifying characteristics of giftedness.
A general intellectual ability specific academic aptitude creative or productive thinking leadership ability visual or performing arts psychomotor ability
Giftedness and the Gifted: What's it All About?)
Research indicates that using a broad range of parameters to identify giftedness, a school system "...could expect to identify 10% to 15% or more of its student population as gifted and talented. "(Horn, 1999, p. 2) Statistics on the number of gifted students vary from area to area. For example, figures from Texas for 2005/2006 indicate that there were 342,353 gifted pupils identified (Texas). In Oregon there were according to a survey only 39,182 Students identified as gifted in 2005. (Oregon) Another research survey in Illinois produced the following table.
There are also many States that do not have any figures for the past few years.
In dealing with statistics it must also be borne in mind that these statistics are dependent on various theoretical perspectives as well as the problematics of identifying giftedness and the concomitant assessment issues.
Common indicators of giftedness include the following aspects.
The early development of a good vocabulary, including the correct use of big words in their proper context.
Being able to concentrate on a single activity for longer periods of time than other children of the same age do.
Developing an early interest in time - clocks, calendars and the concepts of yesterday and tomorrow.
Learning to read, write and count and the names of colors at earlier ages than other children.
Loving to organize people and things and creating imaginary playmates.
Having a precocious interest in music and drawing (Horn, 1999, p. 2)
The attributes of giftedness are therefore guidelines to the identification of the gifted child. Identification is a problematic and often contentious area of the literature. The following is a brief overview of the dominant attributes and qualities associated with giftedness in a general context.
Genera intellectual ability is seen as one of the central facets in identifying giftedness. This is usually determined in terms of high intelligence test scores. This is commonly ascertained by two standard deviations above the mean both on individual or group measures. (Giftedness and the Gifted: What's it All About?) in most cases a general perception of this attribute it is often ascertained by means of close observation of the child by parents and teachers. "Parents and teachers often recognize students with general intellectual talent by their wide-ranging fund of general information and high levels of vocabulary, memory, abstract word knowledge, and abstract reasoning." (Giftedness and the Gifted: What's it All About?)
The literature has found gifted children usually show advanced cognitive skills from the very early years of development (Damiani 1997). A central defining characteristic of giftedness is that these children "...acquire developmental skills at least one-third earlier than their age mates." (Porter, 2005, p. 5) However, Porter (2005) and many others realize that this is not a fixed criterion and some students "... will acquire their first milestones at the same age as average learners, but thereafter will progress more quickly than usual and achieve each subsequent milestone sooner " (Porter, 2005, p. 5). There are obviously many factors that have to be taken into account and the literature is replete with views about the importance of environmental and other factors in the nurturing of gifted intelligence. Children who are gifted or show an exceptional aptitude in specific academic areas are usually identified through their academic performances and achievements.
As has been mentioned, the subject of intelligence and MI or "Multiple Intelligences" is dealt with by Gardner and others. Gardner's view of multiple intelligences has added another layer to the problematics and complexity of identifying and assessing giftedness. Howard Gardner is a Harvard psychologist whose MI theory has shaped modern discourse on intelligence. In a 1983 publication entitled Frames of Mind he posited the existence…[continue]
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