Researching this thing called Giftedness

The “G” word is problematic.  It leads to labelling children, it raises the spectre of elitism, and it implies that highly able learners are all the same.  But it’s widely used and recognized and it appears repeatedly in government policy documents. What to do?

This week, I met with two researchers who are trying to throw light on such questions as what is giftedness, who is gifted, and what alternative paradigms might be possible. Dr. Owen Lo at UBC’s Faculty of Education, is investigating “Labelling and Knowing” and is also leading a project focussing on the “Landscape of Gifted Education in BC”.

Dr. Marion Porath, Professor Emerita at UBC, has spent many years researching and instructing teachers of the gifted. She explains that  the “identify and place” approach used for many highly-able learners may not be ideal. There is research to indicate that a developmental model, which uses a variety of strategies to help learners grow and develop, may be more beneficial for gifted, talented and creative youth.

Research often informs policy, so it’s important to be aware of the most current theories.  In this initiative we want to apply research findings in advocating for the learners we’re calling gifted…at least for now.





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