Some Basic Concepts of Giftedness

Philosophy and Controversy


Where we are now


This page offers a brief introduction of several topics. For further depth, click on the links provided on the left.

A Bit of Philosophy

Giftedness is a field dedicated to the proposition that some folks learn either faster or more deeply than others, that they may have deeper understanding intuitively, that there can be a qualitative difference in that learning, that knowledge, that intuition.

A key debate is the nature vs. nurture argument, though there is a strong voice that says it just doesn't matter - we should serve the students, based on who they are, regardless of how they got that way.

The flip side of the debate argues one of three points: a) it is giving more to those who already have more; b) giftedness is a construct of society and all children are gifted; c) giftedness is inherently a racist (or classist) philosophy and violates the notion that 'all men are created equal.'

These issues are explored far more deeply in Philosophy and Controversy

A Bit of History

A lot of the folks with whom I speak seem to believe that the field of Gifted is new. Maybe we have been playing with it for 20 or so years. A few realize that it goes back to Sputnik and the space race. The number who know that as a field of study and practice, it goes back a century are few and far between. But it does... It has been a hot topic, a controversial topic, a problem for schools addressed in books and studies, and a problem for the nation addressed at national conferences for more than 75 years. It is hardly restricted to the US; it is hardly, as a field of practice, restricted to even the 20th Century and later. In History we will take a more extended look at the issue, primarily within the US, but with some from beyond those borders as well.

Where are we now?

There is a federal (US) definition of giftedness. It is embraced and used in some states. It is ignored in others. There is little federal money for gifted and there is no federal mandate for services as there is for special education (SPED). There are states whose gifted programs are under the SPED umbrella and others for whom it is not. There are states that spend more than $100 million per year and states that spend $0 per year. There is little or no consistency in programs or services, relatively little training for those teachers who work with the gifted, let alone those who do not have that term in their job titles.

And that is just the beginning! For court cases, organizations, studies, and other aspects of where we are, go to Where are we now?


While there is a Glossary section to these pages, many of the words will ultimately have links not to the glossary, but to entire pages related to them. This is true, as well, of the names. The goal is to help the reader to see the interconnections as clearly as possible, while still managing a progression through a body of knowledge, a discipline.

In addition, there will be terms not addressed (yet) in these pages. Please feel free to drop a drop a note!