Mystery and Mastery Models of Giftedness

The literature about giftedness is extensive and it’s hard to keep up with emerging theories. Being Smart About Gifted Education presents some ideas that are well worth looking into.

In the revised, second version of this book, authors Drs. Donna Matthews and Joanne Foster present a Mastery Model of Giftedness to counter what they call the Mystery Model.   Their arguments are persuasive.The authors argue that what they call the Mystery Model categorizes children as “gifted” or “not gifted”, without being specific. They present the following as an example of a definition that is overly-generalized and ambiguous:

A gifted pupil is one who has been identified as possessing an unusually advanced degree of intellectual ability. (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2000, p. 33).

In contrast, they offer a Mastery Model of Giftedness that is more specific and focusses on learning needs. The definition they give is:

Giftedness is exceptionally advanced, subject-specific ability at a particular point in time, such that a student’s educational needs cannot be well met without significant adaptations to the curriculum or other learning experiences (p. 28).

Take a look at this book to read the arguments for using the Mastery Model to plan programs for gifted. It’s been added to our Bibliography page.




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