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Goals & Principles of Gifted Education

Instructor: Linda Winfree

Linda has taught English at grades 6-12 and holds graduate degrees in curriculum and teacher leadership.

In this lesson, you will learn about the goals and principles of gifted education, including the rationale behind gifted education programs and an exploration of best practices.

The Need for Gifted Education

All teachers want to give their students the best, most appropriate education. Your gifted learners have varied and unique needs that require multi-faceted gifted education to help them reach their full potential. To provide gifted learners with effective instruction, you must understand the rationale, principles and goals behind gifted education.

Rationale for Gifted Education

Your gifted students have characteristics that set them apart from average learners. Gifted students learn at a rapid pace, are often highly creative, and think in ways that are logical, abstract and complex. The typical classroom frustrates these learners as they wait for peers to catch up to them in learning content. These students require an educational program to suit their individual needs.

The benefits of gifted education go beyond your classroom. Gifted students often have lofty career goals and the ability to reach them. Our gifted learners become doctors, scientists, artists, researchers, musicians and more. As they pursue their careers, gifted students become adults who can make important contributions to society as a whole. Perhaps the strongest argument for gifted education is that meeting the needs of our most capable students has long-term positive effects on our society.

Principles of Gifted Education

You understand that your gifted learners are distinct from their peers. Unfortunately, if you're like many busy teachers, you may find yourself overlooking these children while you focus on aiding students in need of remediation. You and your administration need to keep in mind two key principles:

  • Gifted children deserve the opportunity to fulfill their learning potential.
  • Teachers need adequate training to provide an education that delivers this crucial opportunity.

A controversial approach to gifted education is homogeneous ability grouping, which places gifted children with peers of similar ability. Many educators argue that non-gifted students gain from having gifted students in their classes; however, the reality is that many gifted children do not reach their full potential when placed in a heterogeneous, or diverse, group.

If your school does not utilize ability grouping for gifted students, you may find yourself with a mixed-ability classroom that includes a gifted cluster, or small group of gifted students in a non-gifted class. This grouping enables you to serve your gifted learners through small group instruction that challenges them and moves at their pace.

Teachers of gifted students need adequate preparation and training. Because of the unique characteristics of gifted children, you should be trained to understand these characteristics, identify gifted learners, and develop and differentiate a gifted curriculum. This involves crafting tasks and questions to challenge learners and foster critical thinking skills.

Goals of Gifted Education

Key goals of gifted education include identifying gifted students and choosing strategies for serving them.

Identifying Gifted Learners

Early identification of giftedness is vital so that students receive maximum educational benefit of gifted services. Schools without a system for identifying possibly gifted students risk wasting their potential. A major misconception is that giftedness equates to high classroom grades. In reality, no two gifted learners are alike, and the concept of giftedness has many facets. Your gifted learners may be particularly talented in one area, while they may perform at or below grade level in other areas.

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