Education of Gifted Children


Started in the 1970's, America's Gifted & Talented programs 
are used to enhance the curriculum of students included in either 
category in order to challenge and strengthen their unique abilities. 
These students are usually provided a separate class with specialized 
lessons in all areas and a teacher with a special degree in gifted 
education. I feel that it is important that the teacher was a gifted 
student who would know what the students must face as "above average" 
members of their school. The job market for gifted education offers a 
wide range of opportunity and gifted teachers are needed all over the 
 One of the earliest programs for gifted and talented students 
was set up in 1974, at The Old Donation Center, in Virginia Beach. 
Students scoring within the top 3% of students on an assessment test 
are referred here to be further challenged. These students are 
considered gifted and have special teachers and classes to promote 
development of their talents and minds. Programs like this began to 
pop up around the nation in the 70's; however, gifted students were 
looked down upon by teachers, parents, and peers. Many people 
considered them to be "freaks" because they were different. They 
didn't understand the implications of the terms "gifted" and 
"talented". Most people simply expected gifted students to act more 
mature or to be geniuses, even though gifted students are the same as 
other children in their needs as human beings. Some gifted students 
were forced to grow up too fast and some simply ignored the fact that 
they were smarter than others, thus, they were lost in the shuffle. 
The irony of it all is that gifted-ness seems to run in families and 
the children of these repressed gifted students are, themselves, 
 But what exactly is a "gifted" student? Students (elementary 
& secondary) are given a repertoire of tests. These tests check IQ, 
psychomotor ability, specific academic aptitude/talent, creative and 
productive thinking, leadership ability, and skills in the visual and 
performing arts. The main requirement, the IQ, is tested by a 
standardized IQ test (remember, however, that IQ tests are not always 
perfectly accurate). Ratings are given to each bracket of IQ scores:

85-99 Lower normal 
100-114 Upper normal 
115-129 Bright 
130-144 Gifted 
145-159 Highly gifted 
160+ Above profoundly gifted

If a student receives a rating of "gifted" or higher (130+), he/she is 
considered to be a gifted student and is introduced into the 
designated programs. These students are given the opportunity to 
choose classes that are meant to teach them how to use their minds for 
critical thinking, reasoning, and artistic pursuits. Students in 
these classes are also exposed to culture, literature, and other 
subject areas that are not usually covered in what they term "normal 
classes". The gifted classes are mainly in an open format allowing 
the student to create the parameters of his/her work and allowing them 
to be creative in their learning experience. Each class is 
presided-over by a teacher that has specialized degrees in gifted 
education. Almost every school in the United States has a need for a 
gifted class, making job opportunities endless; there are never 
 Gifted teachers must have both a degree in education 
(secondary or elementary) and a degree in special education (gifted). 
 These teachers are individuals that must have stamina, people skills, 
and open minds. It is also important (to the students) that the 
teacher himself/herself was also classified as gifted. It sets a 
common bond, shows them that the teacher understands the problems they 
face as so-called "smart kids". These students are often ridiculed by 
their peers and looked-down upon by their teachers. They are often 
separated from others their age by a barrier that can only be 
described as their "intelligence". This is why, often, gifted 
teachers have degrees in administration, counseling, or psychology. 
All teachers that I interviewed told me that a continually upgraded 
education is a must (as are additional degrees). In order to keep up 
with the students one must attend seminars, workshops, special 
classes, etc. There is no end to the amount of education that could 
help you to understand gifted students and the role of their 
"teacher". Also, if a teacher has extra educational qualifications, 
he/she could be asked to step up to the position of administrator or, 
more often, counselor. This means pay raises. 
 Though the average salary for teachers is approximately 
$27,500 per year, it is "a worthwhile undertaking" according to Jane 
Mansueto, "It is incredible to work with gifted students. They are 
incredible!" She went on to remark that it is fascinating to imagine 
that they are of the same level of intelligence as the teacher and 
what they must be feeling inside. She feels that the students are not 
bothered by what their peers think, but actually tend to understand 
that other's opinions mean little compared to their own. Mrs. 
Mansueto taught at Elm Grove Middle School for 5 years. She commented 
on her role as a gifted teacher to consist of "one part mentorship, 
one part hardship, and one part friendship". When asked what kind of 
hours she keeps, she laughed and asked if she was supposed to have 
time off. According to Mrs. Mansueto, unlike a "normal" teacher, a 
gifted teacher has no books to go by or preset material to teach, or, 
for that matter, a preset subject to teach. They are given a blank 
page and, using input from students, must draw up lessons from every 
subject area and constantly challenge the inquisitive minds of the 
gifted. Jane Mansueto attended Trinity College where she majored in 
both elementary education and gifted education. Her favorite part of 
being a gifted teacher is being with the students, working hand in 
hand with them to plan and carry out projects and trips. Though the 
pay is average, and there is not much room to be promoted if you wish 
to remain in the classroom, gifted teaching has its personal rewards.
 Jeff Simpleton, a gifted teacher as well as a former gifted 
student, states, "I really think that by being gifted, I am in touch 
with what they have to go through. They know that I can understand." 
 Mr. Simpleton's class consists of 6 high school students, who have 
many problems due to the intelligence barrier and a kind of isolation 
that has built up over the years between themselves and their 
classmates. They seem to feel that they have a reputation that they 
must live up to. The students try to please everyone.they push 
themselves with sheer motivation and determination and drive. Mr. 
Simpleton feels that this is "what makes them so great". He feels 
that anyone with a sense of adventure and a need for something new day 
after day would find teaching a gifted class to be the perfect job for 
 Gifted teachers are important to the development of their 
students minds. They are understanding individuals who must work hard 
to make the curriculum interesting and challenging. With the 
proper education it is possible to go far as a teacher of the gifted.


Various Internet sites. No info available for documentation.

Meckstroth, Elizabeth A., Stephanie S. Tolan, James T. Webb. Guiding 
Gifted Psychology Pr, March 1989.

Montgomery, Diane. Educating the Able (Special Needs in Ordinary 
Schools). Cassell Academic, April 1996.


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