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Myths That Persist- A Five Part Series - Part One

Myths That Persist- A Five Part Series

Part One

By Teagan Taylor

“Nothing is more dangerous for a new truth than an old misconception”

- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Myths and misconceptions stem and branch off from information passed down over time, generation to generation, story to story, policy maker to policy maker, and so on, until the truth often gets muddled and blurry. While some myths and misconceptions can be relatively harmless such as misquoted movie lines (for my fellow Star Wars nerds out there, you know the famous line I am referring to), others can have real harmful, lasting and sometimes irreversible effects. Such may be the case when it comes to students who have exceptional needs.

Despite decades of awareness, myths and misconceptions about giftedness continue to be a presence in the educational world, which makes us wonder, why do they still exist and persist? In this blog article, we highlight 5 myths and misconceptions about giftedness that are still alive and unfortunately, thriving. In order to see how these myths are impacting our students and the public’s perceptions about giftedness, we went right to the source: stakeholders in gifted education themselves (teachers, parents and other advocates).

Stakeholders took a survey on 5 common misconceptions/myths about giftedness and their opinions on what work there is left to do. Since we got so many thought provoking responses, we are doing a Five Part Series, a blog post for each of the 5 myths. Below is Myth #1!

Myth #1: Gifted students excel in all academic areas

The Numbers

The Problem

  • “Teachers expect the students to easily grasp all information, regardless of subject area, quickly and get straight As in all areas. I think this causes many students to have anxiety and low self esteem when they struggle in a particular area that it seems others expect them to excel in.”

  • “I think more often parents think this -- they will be confused by how a child could be an excellent reader but struggle in math, for example. I've found teachers are more often asking about a child's specific label and not assuming they are gifted in all areas.”

  • “Student test scores are counted as being gifted despite the area of identification. I have had high level math students be depressed over reading scores because they are not as strong in that area.”

  • “Reports and articles about gifted students typically only focus on their successes. Oftentimes they're articles about their great awards, scholarships, and competitions. They do not focus on the failures or even their struggles of gifted children. This is what the public associates with the term gifted.”

  • “Schools I work at tend to "not worry" about gifted kids. They put all of their energy into getting kids scores proficient. Unfortunately, they do not see the lack of growth in the gifted kids they have and the growth in higher achieving students as well.”

The Solution

  • “Educate. Bring forth data. Have students also tell their stories.”

  • “I think we can discuss how most gifted students AREN'T gifted in all areas. That's actually the exception, not the rule. Relating it back to everyone else - like, are YOU good at everything? No? Well, neither are they! It helps when people can relate to others so by putting that question back on them, they can see that it is a ridiculous expectation when even THEY aren't good at everything.”

  • “Accelerate as appropriate per subject starting in Kindergarten. Eliminate SSA [single subject acceleration] testing windows and allow students to test on demand. Allow students test on demand multiple times per year”

  • “Increased communication with classroom teachers. The district in which I teach is very transient. Our faculty is ever-changing and informing new faculty about all things gifted takes time. A great way to reach new teachers is to reach out to the beginning teacher (BT) coordinator and ask to speak at their monthly meeting.”

  • “Increased awareness and education for all-- NC provides 5 distinct labels with general descriptors and districts are expected to align ID practices and services. We need more awareness around that.”

Check back next week for Myth #2, “Gifted students make everyone else in the class smarter by providing a role model or a challenge”...

We would love to continue this discussion in the comments here or on our social media platforms. What are your thoughts about this myth?

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