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Students who bear the tag of ‘gifted children’ possess a prominent ability of high levels of achievement, performance and creativity. Special needs often arise either from the interactions of these students with the environment such as in school, family and the society or due to their internal characteristics as gifted students.
Their characteristics as gifted students are their strengths and can cause problems if taken to the extremes and therefore early identification of these characteristics and development of a plan would help the students utilize their strengths and associated problems as motivational tools for further achievement.
However, the strengths of gifted students and their linked problems can act as positives to encourage the students to realize their potentials fully despite presence of limitations such as family poverty, social degradation, and substance abuse often faced by the gifted students in their day to day lives.
Strengths and associated problems
A major characteristic of all the gifted students is their inherent ability to acquire, gain and retain information concerning a certain task or topic quickly. The rationale here is that, their intellectual ability is relatively higher than that of others and therefore they tend to be impatient with other students who have a lower ability of gaining information (Barbara, 2002, p.6).
The ability to acquire and sustain information is the basis for good performance in not only academic fields, but also in social and economics fields. In a common class of both gifted students and regular students, problems of fast learners and slow learners often arises as the levels of understanding and concept conceptualization differs from one student to another depending on whether a student is gifted or not.
The inherent strength creates a personality, which resists common routines and procedures of doing things because gifted students have the ability of developing accurate shortcuts of solving complex problems within shortest time possible.
This ability encourages creativity and innovations and poses a challenge to the other students to improve. Encouragement of the gifted students to develop new methods of doing things and using these methods as a positive motivational tool would propagate innovation of new skills.
Moreover, gifted students own an intrinsic belief and motivation that achievement and success in any task given is possible. For instance, in subjects or academic concepts that ordinary students tackle with difficulties, gifted students believe otherwise. The gifted students usually see the exact opposite of what others see although in the same class, environment and under the same learning conditions (Webb, 1994, p.23).
Their focus on the possibilities of success and achievement in complex activities helps them to be outstanding achievers even with the limitations of resources and facilities especially in less developed learning institutions. A problem of resistance to direction frequently arises simply because these students remain focused and determined to succeed in the activity they are involved in regardless of how difficult it may be.
Although taken as a problem, strong focus on the course of success remains a positive attribute to achievement and accomplishment of a task with lasting results depends on the creation of an unshaken believe of succeeding despite any possible limitations.
Regular students who develop this intrinsic motivational believe of succeeding and achieving are more likely to be achievers the same way as the talented students as achievement lies in the mindset and hardworking.
In addition, high self-expectation usually underlying many gifted students facilitates their desire to continue their quest of high performance and achieve higher goals. The personal attitude and expectation of high academic performance and achievement may pose a problem of perfectionism and depression especially when one fails to achieve a set goal (Kerr, 1992, p. 45).
Personal expectations to achieve a goal motivate a student to put extra efforts and dedicate extra time in a specific task. For instance, gifted students with problems in certain topics or subjects allocate extra time and efforts to such topics and expect an improvement in performance while on the other hand; regular students may neglect such topics and opt to concentrate on the easy subjects.
The characteristic personality of perfectionism often found in gifted students pushes them paragon in all the topics in any course and this leads to increased good performance by the gifted students. The desire to be perfect in all academic aspects can positively help the underperforming students to improve while at the same time help the gifted students to continue performing better and better.
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High alertness, increased levels of concentration and eagerness to learn new skills are further strengths of the gifted students over the other students. For instance, normal students have a concentration time of maximally two hours after which the level of concentration drops and conceptualization of facts diminishes.
With talented students, their concentration period goes far beyond two hours and conception of information remains undisturbed (Webb, 1994, p. 25). All through, the students remain alert, focused and eager to absorb more information. Inactivity and idleness frustrates gifted students as they prefer doing something than idling.
Preoccupation of the students with academic work offers adequate time to the students to perfect on areas they feel lacking or incompetent. To avoid such frustrations, allocation of extra reading materials to the students would allow the gifted students to remain preoccupied for longer times and thus utilize their alertness to help them explore their potentials positively.
Gifted students portray a sense of organization. These students organize themselves and their items in an orderly manner and as a result, people view them as complicated and bossy (Kerr, 1992, p.46). Fortunately, this attribute affects their academic performance positively and helps to shape their future careers.
A problem linked to the inherent desire of organization arises mainly because these students formulate complicated rules to guide them in their pursuit to remain organized. For instance, gifted students follow strict timetables with time limits in their revision time.
This organization helps the students to allocate adequate time for all the subjects and thus reduces chances of overemphasis on one subject at the expense of the others. Strict follow up of the timetable allows balanced study period yielding to balanced performance.
The strengths of the gifted students underscore their characteristics and acts as the driving force for continued creativity, high academic performance, and future career achievements of these gifted students.
Overemphasis of the possible problems linked to the strengths of these students could lead to poor exploration of the students’ full potential while positive application of the strengths would result to full exploration and realization of their inherent abilities and potentials.
Integrating gifted students with normal students poses healthy challenges to the normal students who may opt to assimilate the strengths of the gifted students and therefore this justifies the need to use the strengths as positive aspect to propagate high achievements and success.
Barbara, C. (2002). Growing up gifted. New York: Merrill.
Kerr, A. (1992). Smart girls, gifted women. New York: Ohio Psychology Press.
Webb, J. (1994). some of my best friends are books: Guiding gifted readers. New York: Ohio Psychology Press.