Professor Jack Dougherty
4 April 2012
“How have the goals and methods of gifted education changed since the 1950s? What do these goals and methods say about the intended purpose of gifted education?”
Gifted children are students recognized by the school system as pupils with exceptionally high levels of intelligence and creativity. Schools identify a need to provide these students with an alternative form of education, generally referred to as Gifted and Talented education. Gifted and Talented programs exist with the purpose of catering to the needs of gifted students. In general, they seek to provide gifted students with a challenging curriculum that will allow the student to continue to progress in his or her education, instead of being held back by a curriculum catering to average or below average students. Recognition of the need to distinguish the education of gifted students from other students has existed since the 1950s. What my research paper will do is examine how the opinions and approach to gifted education have varied during the past sixty years as it has been discussed in books and scholarly articles. More specifically, I will examine how the goals and methods for teaching gifted students have progressed through these years. I would like to look at several aspects of gifted education, including whether or not the students are incorporated into the regular classroom, what subjects teachers focus on, and what skills gifted education instructors focus on establishing within the student. I intend to see a shift in focus in each decade as gifted education changes to accommodate to the needs of a progressing society.
I began my research in two places: in the library’s main collection of books and using Trinity Online Resources. In the main collection, I found many books dealing with gifted students and gifted education—an entire section, in fact. I sorted through the books to select the ones I thought were most relevant. These included books specifically mentioning the “teaching of” gifted students or the “curriculum for” gifted education. These books would apply more to my research question, as they would provide more information on the methods of teaching gifted students. I made sure to grab books from different decades as well, to be sure that I was looking at goals and methods through a span of time starting in the 1950s. Online, I used TOR to research articles that would be relevant to my research. In creating my preliminary list of resources, I focused, once again, on articles that specifically focused on the teaching of gifted students versus the establishment of gifted programs or the controversy behind them.
I would like to continue my research with more analysis of primary sources. I would like to expand my list of sources to curriculums of different decades and firsthand accounts from teachers involved in educating gifted students.
List of Sources (With Selected Annotations)
Cropley, Arthur, and John McLeod. “Preparing Teachers of the Gifted.” International Review of Education / Internationale Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft / Revue Internationale de l’Education 32.2 (1986): 125–136. Print.
- Cropley and McLeod’s work, written in 1986, outlines the importance of the teacher’s role in gifted education. In their article, the author’s recognize the specific needs of gifted students and how these needs can be addressed by instructors of gifted education. By examining these needs, the authors ultimately expose the goals of gifted education during that decade.
Fliegler, Louis A. Curriculum Planning for the Gifted. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1961. Print.
- Fliegler’s book provides advice for creating a curriculum in every subject, be it history, science, math, or creative writing. For each subject, the author informs the educator of how to identify a gifted student in that particular subject, what gifted programs for that subject are currently in practice, and how an instructor can build an adequate program in that subject. The book also offers project ideas for each subject taught.
French, Joseph L. Educating the Gifted, a Book of Readings. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1964. Print.
Gallagher, James John. Teaching the Gifted Child. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1977. Print.
Gallagher, Selena, Susen R. Smith, and Peter Merrotsy. “Teachers’ Perceptions of the Socioemotional Development of Intellectually Gifted Primary Aged Students and Their Attitudes Towards Ability Grouping and Acceleration.” Gifted & Talented International 26.1/2 (2011): 11–24. Print.
Ogilvie, Eric. Gifted Children in Primary Schools. Macmillan Education, 1975. Print.
Plunkett, Margaret1, and Leonie2 Kronborg. “Learning to Be a Teacher of the Gifted: The Importance of Examining Opinions and Challenging Misconceptions.” Gifted & Talented International 26.1/2 (2011): 31–46. Print.
Rakow, Susan1. “Helping Gifted Learners SOAR.” Educational Leadership 69.5 (2012): 34–40. Print.
- Rakow’s article, published in 2012, provides an overview of the necessary steps educators need to take in order to create a positive gifted educational experience for their students. These steps include pre-assessment and differentiation. The article emphasizes that gifted education should group students together, but not place them in a track. It also establishes the purpose of early gifted education as laying the foundation for the pursuit of AP classes once the student reaches high school.
Stanley, Julian C. The Gifted and the Creative: A Fifty-year Perspective. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Pr., 1977. Print.
Worcester, Dean A. The Education of Children of Above-average Mentality. University of Nebraska, 1956. Print.
Yamin, Taisir Subhi. “Gifted Education: Provisions, Case Studies, Models, and Challenges.” Gifted & Talented International 25.2 (2010): 7–10. Print.
4 thoughts on “Goals and Methods of Gifted Education”
Richelle, this is a wonderful question to explore to dig further into the underlying rationale of one of the fastest-growing types of educational programs in the post-war era.
Regarding sources, as we explored during our meeting, a WorldCat advanced search such as this (kw:history su:Gifted children Education United States) may help you to narrow down historical studies of gifted children and programs for them in the US, which would be ideal as a secondary source. (See also similar strategies with the Education Full Text and ERIC databases.) You’ve already identified some 1960s-era gifted education books/materials that may serve as ideal primary sources. Both are great for this type of project, but the combination of the two is best because a strong secondary source analysis may offer you a frame with which to interpret other primary sources, or to criticize the limited scope of the secondary source.
Regarding your RQ, I recommend using the national-level focus, but if you find a fascinating case or two that deserves more attention, then you could modify your RQ this way: How have the goals and methods of gifted education changed since the 1950s in US schools in general, and (insert locations) in particular?
For instance, you could use New York Times historical to search out the first mention of gifted education and see if that leads to case studies. Or Google News Archive advanced search sometimes works for other locations.
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