Education Of Gifted Children Essay Research Paper

Education Of Gifted Children Essay, Research Paper

Started in the 1970?s, America?s Gifted & Talented programs

are used to enhance the curriculum of students included in either

category in order to challenge and strengthen their unique abilities.

These students are usually provided a separate class with specialized

lessons in all areas and a teacher with a special degree in gifted

education. I feel that it is important that the teacher was a gifted

student who would know what the students must face as “above average”

members of their school. The job market for gifted education offers a

wide range of opportunity and gifted teachers are needed all over the


One of the earliest programs for gifted and talented students

was set up in 1974, at The Old Donation Center, in Virginia Beach.

Students scoring within the top 3% of students on an assessment test

are referred here to be further challenged. These students are

considered gifted and have special teachers and classes to promote

development of their talents and minds. Programs like this began to

pop up around the nation in the 70?s; however, gifted students were

looked down upon by teachers, parents, and peers. Many people

considered them to be “freaks” because they were different. They

didn?t understand the implications of the terms “gifted” and

“talented”. Most people simply expected gifted students to act more

mature or to be geniuses, even though gifted students are the same as

other children in their needs as human beings. Some gifted students

were forced to grow up too fast and some simply ignored the fact that

they were smarter than others, thus, they were lost in the shuffle.

The irony of it all is that gifted-ness seems to run in families and

the children of these repressed gifted students are, themselves,


But what exactly is a “gifted” student? Students (elementary

& secondary) are given a repertoire of tests. These tests check IQ,

psychomotor ability, specific academic aptitude/talent, creative and

productive thinking, leadership ability, and skills in the visual and

performing arts. The main requirement, the IQ, is tested by a

standardized IQ test (remember, however, that IQ tests are not always

perfectly accurate). Ratings are given to each bracket of IQ scores:

85-99 Lower normal

100-114 Upper normal

115-129 Bright

130-144 Gifted

145-159 Highly gifted

160+ Above profoundly gifted

If a student receives a rating of “gifted” or higher (130+), he/she is

considered to be a gifted student and is introduced into the

designated programs. These students are given the opportunity to

choose classes that are meant to teach them how to use their minds for

critical thinking, reasoning, and artistic pursuits. Students in

these classes are also exposed to culture, literature, and other

subject areas that are not usually covered in what they term “normal

classes”. The gifted classes are mainly in an open format allowing

the student to create the parameters of his/her work and allowing them

to be creative in their learning experience. Each class is

presided-over by a teacher that has specialized degrees in gifted

education. Almost every school in the United States has a need for a

gifted class, making job opportunities endless; there are never


Gifted teachers must have both a degree in education

(secondary or elementary) and a degree in special education (gifted).

These teachers are individuals that must have stamina, people skills,

and open minds. It is also important (to the students) that the

teacher himself/herself was also classified as gifted. It sets a

common bond, shows them that the teacher understands the problems they

face as so-called “smart kids”. These students are often ridiculed by

their peers and looked-down upon by their teachers. They are often

separated from others their age by a barrier that can only be

described as their “intelligence”. This is why, often, gifted

teachers have degrees in administration, counseling, or psychology.

All teachers that I interviewed told me that a continually upgraded

education is a must (as are additional degrees). In order to keep up

with the students one must attend seminars, workshops, special

classes, etc. There is no end to the amount of education that could

help you to understand gifted students and the role of their

“teacher”. Also, if a teacher has extra educational qualifications,

he/she could be asked to step up to the position of administrator or,

more often, counselor. This means pay raises.

Though the average salary for teachers is approximately

$27,500 per year, it is “a worthwhile undertaking” according to Jane

Mansueto, “It is incredible to work with gifted students. They are

incredible!” She went on to remark that it is fascinating to imagine

that they are of the same level of intelligence as the teacher and

what they must be feeling inside. She feels that the students are not

bothered by what their peers think, but actually tend to understand

that other?s opinions mean little compared to their own. Mrs.

Mansueto taught at Elm Grove Middle School for 5 years. She commented

on her role as a gifted teacher to consist of “one part mentorship,

one part hardship, and one part friendship”. When asked what kind of

hours she keeps, she laughed and asked if she was supposed to have

time off. According to Mrs. Mansueto, unlike a “normal” teacher, a

gifted teacher has no books to go by or preset material to teach, or,

for that matter, a preset subject to teach. They are given a blank

page and, using input from students, must draw up lessons from every

subject area and constantly challenge the inquisitive minds of the

gifted. Jane Mansueto attended Trinity College where she majored in

both elementary education and gifted education. Her favorite part of

being a gifted teacher is being with the students, working hand in

hand with them to plan and carry out projects and trips. Though the

pay is average, and there is not much room to be promoted if you wish

to remain in the classroom, gifted teaching has its personal rewards.

Jeff Simpleton, a gifted teacher as well as a former gifted

student, states, “I really think that by being gifted, I am in touch

with what they have to go through. They know that I can understand.”

Mr. Simpleton?s class consists of 6 high school students, who have

many problems due to the intelligence barrier and a kind of isolation

that has built up over the years between themselves and their

classmates. They seem to feel that they have a reputation that they

must live up to. The students try to please everyone?they push

themselves with sheer motivation and determination and drive. Mr.

Simpleton feels that this is “what makes them so great”. He feels

that anyone with a sense of adventure and a need for something new day

after day would find teaching a gifted class to be the perfect job for


Gifted teachers are important to the development of their

students minds. They are understanding individuals who must work hard

to make the curriculum interesting and challenging. With the

proper education it is possible to go far as a teacher of the gifted.


Various Internet sites. No info available for documentation.

Meckstroth, Elizabeth A., Stephanie S. Tolan, James T. Webb. Guiding

the Gifted Child : A Practical Source for Parents and Teachers, et al.

Gifted Psychology Pr, March 1989.

Montgomery, Diane. Educating the Able (Special Needs in Ordinary

Schools). Cassell Academic, April 1996.