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Is Everybody Gifted?

23 Sep

Is Everybody Gifted?

Posted By: 
Kimberly White

This week's Food For Thought comes from online school co-founder and designer behind the Personalized Education Group, Tamra Excell.

<“She sure seems angry,” I heard somebody say behind me while in attendance at a recent conference. The presenter was passionate about her topic. She and another were taking turns explaining how “all students are a gift, but not all students are gifted,” and to say otherwise could undermine gifted education.

Some people in the audience squirmed. Others nodded their heads in enthusiastic agreement.

The problem is the word “gifted.”  It’s a very common word; can any one group own it exclusively?

One viewpoint is that all of us are gifted, and we all have special needs. Those gifts and needs are usually connected. Here gifted is being defined as a talent or an innate personality trait, but it could also be something developed with effort.

This isn’t the type of gifted the presenters were talking about.

Instead, they are advocating for a specific category of students who are most known for having high IQs, but who are really set apart by what many call intensities or overexcitabilities. In the article "Overexcitability and the Gifted" author Sharon Lind describes overexcitabilities as “inborn intensities indicating a heightened ability to respond to stimuli.” It’s due to these intensities that students need special education accommodations.

Did you know that “gifted education” is a category of special education? Many don’t because they mistakenly believe that gifted students don’t need help – that they are smart enough to figure out things on their own.

In her article Lind goes on to describe 5 identified areas of intensity that gifted individuals respond to and provides strategies for healthily living with each one.

These domains of intensity are, as described by Lind:

Psychomotor - “a heightened excitability of the neuromuscular system”

Sensual/Perceptual - “a heightened experience of sensual pleasure or displeasure emanating from sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing”

Intellectual - “a marked need to seek understanding and truth, to gain knowledge, and to analyze and synthesize”

Imagination - “heightened play of the imagination with rich association of images and impressions”

Emotional - “heightened, intense feelings, extremes of complex emotions, identification with others’ feelings, and strong affective expression”

Not only are these important to understand for education, they come into play in building healthy lives at home and work. Gifted individuals will typically relate to a couple of these, but a person can even have traits in all five.

I’m curious to know: do any of the overexcitabilities sound like something you or a loved one can relate to?  I’d love to hear about your thoughts and experiences with this topic.

It is our desire and mission at CMASAS to offer a personalized online education that will cater to and empower all students in their individual gifts.

To your unique journey,

Tamra Excell