This month the movie Gifted was released. I’ve been waiting for this one for a few months, ever since I saw the trailer. It’s a sweet story that highlights the issues that families with gifted children often face.
Mary is a seven year old genius who lives with her uncle. Mary’s mom, also a mathematical genius, committed suicide when Mary was an infant, leaving her in her brother’s care. All is good until Mary begins public school, which from the start, is a mismatch. Soon a struggle ensues between the uncle and his estranged mother which highlights the issue of what is the best learning environment for gifted learners.
She’s seven, so shouldn’t she be in a first grade class with other kids her age? That’s what her uncle wants for her. To have friends and to play and have fun. But it’s obvious she won’t be challenged here. After all, she can do differential equations; first grade math just won’t cut it. At one point, someone says something to the effect of just wanting Mary to have a normal life. The question is, what constitutes a normal life? Normal by whose standards? According to the Columbus Group (1991) giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counseling in order for them to develop optimally. So when we talk about giving Mary, or any other gifted child a normal life, we have to think about the asynchrony of that child and how we can best meet both cognitive and affective needs.
What does the best learning environment look like for a gifted child? How can we meet their cognitive and affective needs?
I’ve got my thoughts, but I’d like to hear from you.
Here are a couple of reviews on Gifted I thought you might enjoy: