So Are Students Born Gifted or Made To Be Gifted?

So Are Students Born Gifted or Made To Be Gifted?

This is a question that continues to be debated by many. It’s the old nature vs. nurture conversation. In my view, I would have to say I think that it is a little of both. I believe that we can all agree that both are equally important in raising a child regardless of whether the child is classified as gifted or bright.

It would kind of be logical to think that heredity plays a huge role on whether a child might be gifted. You know the story “smart parents naturally have smart kids”; right?

I know that is some cases this might be true. However, I have met many smart kids who when I met their parent wonder if maybe the smart gene skipped a generation. In any case, like most simplistic ideas about human beings, intellectual growth turns out to be much more complicated.

Recent research on the development of the human brain has revealed that an individual’s experiences early in life can cause the brain to grow and expand in certain areas. In addition, families who are in a position to provide their child with an enriched environment, stimulating conversations, and security can expect their child to benefit intellectually. It just makes sense, doesn’t it?

So the current answer to whether a child is born gifted is only partially correct, it also depends on the richness of the environment interacting with any genetic inheritance a child receives. Any genetic transfer of giftedness or intelligence is only a potential, and left without intervention or further nurturing is left to lie dormant.

Now let us also say that a child who is not gifted, but given the proper educational intervention can do equally well compared to a gifted child who is not challenged. Giftedness is innate – brightness can be created. You cannot provide all the educational materials in the world to make a child gifted – but that child can certainly be bright and gain admission to the very best universities available.

So what makes a child gifted vs. bright?

The three most common signs of giftedness in young children are language development, mental alertness, and abstract thinking.

Many adults mistakenly assume that the studious, eager child who works hard, answers questions and listens with interest is a “gifted child.” While these children are without a doubt, “bright” and hardworking individuals, when tested on intellectual measures, they do not necessarily have the characteristics that are associated with giftedness. They are, however, great students and extremely smart in their own right.

Gifted students can ask endless questions, be good manipulators, and be inattentive yet still score high on tests or get good grades without much effort. Gifted students are often perfectionistic and idealistic. They are problem solvers and may be so far ahead of their chronological age-mates that they know half (or more) of the curriculum before the school year even begins. Gifted students often think abstractly and with such complexity that they may need help with concrete study and personal organization skills. They can be argumentative and demanding and do not necessarily mind being different from the crowd.

A Bright Student

A Gifted Student

1. Knows the answers

Asks the deep questions

2. Is interested

Is very curious

3. Pays attention

Gets involved mentally and physically

4. Works and studies hard

Can be so focused to the point of obsessed once they find their talent. They can be relentless.

5. Answers the questions

Questions the answers

6. Enjoys same-age peers – gets along well with peers

Prefers the company of adults or older students – may not have good relationships with same age peers

7. Learns quickly

Often already knows the information or can grasp it at a deeper level.

8. Is self-satisfied when she/he knows the answer to questions

Is not always satisfied with the answer. Is highly self-critical and often tries to look for different perspective.

9. Is good at memorizing and presenting the information with only slight modifications.

Is good at guessing based on what they know.

For more information, check out our online course for educators titled: Challenging Gifted Students in the Regular Classroom (Grades K-12)