6 Myths about Gifted and Talented Students

by Sara Vazquez Shaw

1. Gifted and talented students are overachievers

Believing the preconception that gifted and talented students are overachievers can be detrimental to a student's educational growth. While a child may have a naturally high intellect, it does not always translate to motivation. Educators have found that some gifted and talented students will avoid challenging themselves.

How do educators and parents motivate underachieving gifted and talented students? The first tip is to provide the student with individualised attention. Personal oversight can create an academic environment that can motivate him or her to attempt more challenging assignments.

2. Gifted and talented students are successful in any subject

Believing this myth can stymie a student's academic growth and hinder future educational opportunities. A student may excel in math and science, but his or her natural intellect may cause that student to struggle in the humanities.

While the student might understand the concept, he or she might struggle with structuring an essay to meet the requirements. For example, a student may write a five-page paper, when the assignment guidelines limited the length to three pages. A gifted and talented student benefits from extra attention to teach him or her to focus.

3. Gifted and talented students are organised

"Gifted and talented" is based on a measurement of a student's natural intelligence. Organisational skills are personal traits that can be taught. Some teachers may devote minimal time to developing a student's organisational skills, as it is not an academic subject, causing the student to underperform. Parents and students who appreciate the academic benefits of strong organisational skills have options, such as utilising a tutor who specialises in developing a student's organisational skills.

4. Gifted and talented students don't have learning disabilities

This myth can extinguish a student's natural talents and lead to a loss of abilities. Understanding a student's individual needs can unlock his or her academic potential. Through the development of study skills, the student with a learning disability can grow his or her natural academic gifts. Personalised tutoring services can also assist a student with a learning disability to maximise his or her potential.

5. Gifted and talented students don't need special services

Gifted and talented students need special services to grow their talents and improve the personality traits that can inhibit performance. Educators often focus on the academic strengths of the majority of the class, which can cause boredom and underachievement on the part of the gifted student. Special services, such as tutoring, can give the student encouragement to pursue subjects beyond the classroom and prevent underachievement.

6. Gifted and talented students are responsible

Gifted and talented does not equate to responsibility. These students can find that studying for exams, preparing for class, and thoroughly researching for term papers is not necessary. Since they can earn passing grades with minimal effort, some gifted and talented students lack the responsibility to be independent. Oversight of their preparation for exams and homework may ensure that the student achieves to their potential. Frequent meetings with a tutor can hold the student accountable for his or her preparation and result in higher grades.