Condensed from a presentation I gave December 2001 at Brock University.

1. Giftedness is a stable characteristic.

The remarkable abilities that some people demonstrate appear to come and go in many cases. Some talents develop early in life and continue. Others are not noticed until the person matures. Some abilities appear early and then seem to fade. Giftedness is not always evident consistently.

2. Gifted people are superhuman.

Gifted people may have extraordinary abilities in some areas, but like all human beings, they may have faults and weaknesses as well.

3. Gifted people always outdistance their peers academically.

It does not always happen that a gifted person's achievement reflects his or her ability. Perhaps for this reason as much as any other, giftedness is included in the special education corpus. Another factor is that some people's gifts are expressed in non-academic ways. (Some educators distinguish this as "talent"; whether or not they imply a hierarchy by this distinction is moot.)

4. Gifted people work harder than other people.

Strong task commitment has come to be one of the accepted markers of giftedness, especially among educators, but a person's task commitment may not become evident until he or she is identified and working in an environment that stimulates the commitment.

5. Gifted students do not need the expense of special education.

Some gifted students do indeed excel without any particular assistance or incentive. Most require effort and support just like any other exceptional students, and may not come anywhere near reaching their potential unless their special abilities are fostered by appropriate conditions.

6. Gifted students are bored with school, disruptive, and antagonistic.

Usually they enjoy school, are well adjusted and get on easily with peers and teachers. But like any other student, they will react to neglect or inequity, or other issues they regard as important.

7. It is common for emotional instability to accompany giftedness.

Gifted people are usually in good mental health and tend to have fewer emotional problems than the norm. Empirical evidence suggests they may be exceptionally sensitive to matters like injustice, world issues, etc.

8. Gifted people are physically inept, self-absorbed and narrow-minded.

For the most part, they look and act like any other people, although teachers and others generally report them as above average in health, moral responsibility, and social adeptness.

9. Gifted people are easy to identify.

They do not necessarily stand out in a group of peers. Theoretically, a gifted person performing at age level is underachieving. Although IQ tests are a frequent means of identifying gifted students (and they may often score very high) these instruments are far too narrow as a sole criterion, for they are unable to measure or even highlight characteristics like artistic ability or creativity, for example.

10. Normally a school system will find 3 to 5 percent of the population gifted.

The percentage identified usually depends on the jurisdiction's definition of the gifted, and on its conception of giftedness.

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