Gifted AND Talented

The artist is nothing without the gift,
but the gift is nothing without work.

Emile Zola.

Canadian gifted education researcher Francoys Gagné differentiates clearly between gifts (natural abilities) and talents (systematically developed from gifts). I imagine that he would likely agree with Malcolm Gladwell and his theory of 10 000 hours that he writes about in his book the The Outliers. In it he asserts that if we want to shine we must put in the time and he refers to the Beatles and Bill Gates to support this theory. While I find both of these theories quite fascinating, I also find them limiting. Perhaps it’s the embedded idea that our truly gifted people are the ones who achieve a certain level of success in their area of passion and that this success be formally recognized in some way. If you look at the Beatles and Bill Gates, not only are they internationally known, but also incredibly wealthy. If you go back to Gagne’s Model of giftedness, you will see that role that chance plays in talent. Both the Beatles and Bill Gates were all born in a certain place and time that allowed them to maximize on their gifts.

I often speak to parents and teachers about the mixed blessing of giftedness. The excitement of being identified balanced with the pressure of expectations, mostly from the individual themselves…sometimes others. 10 000 hours is a long time to sweat through something even if you have chance on your side. But then again, it’s no time at all if you are doing the things you love. At that point it doesn’t matter whether you’re John, Paul, George, Ringo or Bill or whether you’re playing music or on the computer. In fact, if you’re just hanging out outside you may being doing far more for your brain. I’ve just started reading Richard Louv’s book The Nature Principle. Check out his video on my vodpod link.

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