Gifted and talented students exhibit exceptional ability across a range of disciplines. Being gifted may prove to be a double edged sword. By the student initially possessing attributes associated with giftedness, the teacher may in fact concentrate their efforts on those who are less gifted, thereby neglecting the potential of the gifted child in mainstream education. Having said that, this may be the case of academically gifted children but not children gifted in other areas such as sports or music. Academically gifted children tend to be ‘neglected’ whereas giftedness in other areas tend to be encouraged.
Throughout the educational process, it is essential for students to have a good relationship with their peers, usually through a process of ‘reversion to the mean’. In such contexts, gifted students may deliberately under-perform or not participate in the educational process to help their integration with peers. Should the student fail to do this, they run the risk of alienation from peers. Alienation from peers may allow for academic progress in the short term, although through reduced social interaction/skills and depression, may in fact result in reduced academic/social achievement in the longer term.
Being gifted may enable the student to learn at a faster pace compared to peers. As such, gifted students may actually not be pushed to their full potential, and may eventually ‘get bored’ due to the ease with which they can fulfill their academic duties (in mainstream education).
Having said that, in certain circumstances, the term gifted may have positive impacts on the overall learning of the student. By informing the student of their gifted nature, this may increase the students self-esteem, pushing the student to further academic achievement via a positive feedback mechanism.
In terms of teaching those who are gifted, such students tend to develop mechanisms in terms of behavior and education that are ahead of their peers. As a teacher, it is imperative to praise and encourage this. Secondly, it is vital as a provider of education to recognize the giftedness of a student and aim to increase the difficulty of their content accordingly, despite the content of their peers. A potential mechanism to do this would be to have questions of varying difficulty to ensure that gifted students are challenged as much as their peers (this may also be done via homework assignments). Finally, should the teacher realize that a gifted student is being alienated by peers, they can aim to encourage group exercises that induce interaction between students with the aim of reducing alienation. Should this approach fail, a group discussion between teacher, student and family must occur to discuss the possible approaches that should be taken (which may include moving schools to a more academically suitable institute). Action must be taken early on to ensure that the child does not develop depression or social isolation.
For an example I will draw on a personal experience. During my time in Finland, I proved to have talent when playing soccer. As such, I would find the class tedious and boring, and therefore get isolated from games (even though I had more ability than peers). Eventually, the teachers noticed that I was gifted in playing soccer. I was then transferred to the