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Posted by on Sep 6, 2014 in Blog, Sharon |

Giftedness permeates every aspect of an individual’s being

Giftedness permeates every aspect of an individual’s being

Well intended headlines sometimes harm… Recently, an article was widely distributed by the Khan Academy, highlighting the positive impact that a growth mindset has on learning. While there can be little doubt that possessing a growth mindset makes a difference in a student’s motivation and learning, like many articles about the subject of mindset, this one also contained wording that over-generalized and extrapolated on the growth mindset study.

Sadly, the common belief of this misinformation has had a negative impact on the gifted population. The headline, article, and accompanying short video support a cultural belief that: 1) everybody is born with identical intellectual potential, and that you “get smart” by what you learn, thereby equating intelligence with knowledge and skill and 2) telling a child they are intelligent is harmful.

Confusing intelligence with knowledge or achievement is to deny what giftedness really is. Giftedness permeates every aspect of an individual’s being.

Being gifted is innate and as such, is a part of who a person is, not what a person does or achieves. In fact, many gifted individuals go through life unidentified because their giftedness is not exhibited according to society’s perception of what it should look like. Further, because of the intensity of that internal experience, gifted individuals often feel different than others from a very early age.

Without an explanation as to why they feel different, many gifted people grow up thinking that there is something wrong with them. Psychologists that work with this population usually encourage parents to have a conversation with their children about their giftedness so that they can grow up with a healthy self- identity. When we tell natural athletes that they are good at sports, they try harder. When we tell musicians they are good, they work harder. It is similarly o.k. to tell your gifted child that they indeed have a brain that works differently than others, but even though they are intelligent, learning to work hard will help them to have a fulfilling life.