The Change and Continuity of Promoting Gifted Education

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The interest in educating gifted individuals has a long history. Greeks, Chinese, Egyptians and Romans provided education for the nurture of outstanding talents and abilities for the country. During the Renaissance period (1400 - 1600), Europe governments encouraged talented artists. Sponsorship for artists such as Da Vinci was provided by church. In 1905, French researchers, Binet and Simon, develop the first series of IQ tests. In 1916, Lewis Terman, the father of gifted education movement, publishes the Stanford-Binet which is commonly used as an intelligence testing tool later. In 1957, the launch of the Soviet rocket had stimulated the field to provide better provisions for highly able youth, especially in the fields of science, technology and mathematics. The missions of the field of gifted education are providing education for gifted students and finding ways to develop the talent in all children. When the needs of the gifted students are considered and gifted programs are delivered to them, they will gain significant achievements and enhance the sense of competence. As the gifted and talented individuals receive appropriate cultivation and education, society gains from their advancement of abilities. Society will benefit from the support for gifted education.

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In Hong Kong, people have little knowledge about gifted education. Each year, there may be a few students who achieve excel results in public exam. People think these students are elite students. They are diligent and intelligent but not necessary gifted. In Hong Kong, the definition of giftedness is connected to IQ scores. Gifted children are those with high IQ scores. On the other hand, people include many teachers and parents believe that gifted students are only found in elite schools whereas the intake students are mainly "band 1" students. Thus, these schools are labeled "band 1" schools. Many parents believe that their children are not smart enough when they cannot get into a "band 1" school. Gifted programs are carried out by the Hong Kong Education Department regularly. Participants are those who are identified as gifted by IQ tests and those who are nominated by own schools according to academic results. Not many schools have gifted programs or trained teachers for gifted education.

II Relative Literature

A The Development of Promoting Gifted Education in the Western World

Early in 1868, public schools in U.S. began the idea of educating gifted students. In 1921, Lewis Terman began the longitudinal study "the Genetic Studies of Genius" which is the oldest and longest study to examine the development and the characteristics of gifted children into adulthood. Then, the American Association for the Study of the Gifted was established in U.S. in 1946 and the National Association for Gifted Children was established in 1954. After launching of the Soviet rocket, more schools began offering courses for gifted students and emphasize creativity and independent thinking. In 1958, the National Defense Education Act (P.L. 85-864) was enacted to support gifted education especially in mathematics, sciences and foreign languages. The Association for the Gifted was established. In 1965, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (P.L. 89-10) was enacted to support for developing model programs and state personnel. In 1972, Sidney Marland published Education of the Gifted and Talented which is the first national report on gifted education, established federal recognition of the need for gifted education. In 1988, in U.S, the Federal Office for Gifted and Talented Education was reestablished. In 1993, National Excellence: A Case for Developing America's Talent (Ross, 1993) was released by the U.S Department of Education. (Clark, 2002)

(1) Theory of Intelligence

Lewis Terman (1925) was the first one who use the term "gifted" and he defined the top 1% in general intelligence ability as gifted by using the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale or a comparable instrument. DeHaan and Havighurst (1957) suggested there are two levels of giftedness: top 1% is extremely gifted and top 10% is superior.

Howard Garner (1983) contributed his idea of multiple intelligences theory. According to the multiple intelligences theory, everyone may have talents in specific fields, and is not restricted to academic intelligence. He has questioned about giftedness should not only defined by IQ tests. He suggests that intelligences should include linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, spatial and bodily-kinesthetic. His theory of multiple intelligences has had a profound impact in gifted education.

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Sternberg's Triarchic Theory of Human Intelligence (1985) includes three facets: analytical, creative and practical. Analytical intelligence is used to discover method. Creative intelligence is used to tackle the problem. Practical intelligence is used to solve the problem.

Gardner's theory focuses on the content and the performance of intelligence. Sternberg's theory focuses on the thinking process of intelligence. Both of them emphasize multiple intelligences which must be linked with the real world and professions. Intelligence can be groom and develop through appropriate school curriculum designs.

(2) Definition of Giftedness

There are a number of definitions of giftedness proposing by different psychologists of educators from time to time.  The 1972 Marland Definition (Ross, 1993) includes several areas: general intellectual ability, specific academic aptitude, creative or productive thinking, leadership ability and ability in the visual or performing arts. Gifted and talented children or youth are identified by professionals and they are capable of high performance in the above areas. Tannenbaum's (1983) definition includes five factors: a sliding scale of general intelligence, special ability, non-intellective factors, environmental factors and chance factors. He described gifted children are those who have potential to perform critically acclaimed and produce ideas that enhance the moral, physical, emotional, social, intellectual, or aesthetic life of humanity. Gagne (1990) specified five domains in which gifted children have the aptitude to achieve including academic, technical, artistic, interpersonal and athletic. He defines giftedness as the gifted individual has the natural abilities in at least one ability domain to a degree that he is at the top 15% of his/her peers. The Javits (1994) definition reflects current knowledge and thinking of gifted children and youth. In addition to academic intellectual capability, all other fields such as leadership, performing arts are considered. In the definition, these children exhibit high performance capability in intellectual, creative, artistic areas, good leadership capacity, excel in specific academic fields. Gifted and talented individuals can be found from all cultural groups and economic levels. Barbara Clark's definition theorizes that gifted children process information differently than non-gifted peers. Her theories involve current brain research. "Giftedness is a biologically and indicates an advanced and accelerated development of functions within the brain, including physical sensing, emotion, cognition, and intuition. Such advanced and accelerated functions may be expressed through abilities such as those involved in cognition, creativity, academic aptitude, leadership, or the visual or performing arts." (Clark 1997, P.26)

(3) Development of Gifted Behavior

Renzulli (1997) considers three factors important for the development of gifted behavior: above average ability, creativity, and task commitment. Abilities includes general abilities like processing information, abstract thinking, and integrating experiences, and specific abilities like the capacity to acquire knowledge, perform in an activity. Creativity demonstrates the originality of thought, fluency, flexibility, an openness to experience, sensitivity to stimulations, and a willingness to take risks. Task commitment refers to motivation turned into action like perseverance, endurance, hard work, but also self-confidence, perceptiveness and a special fascination with a special subject. Task commitment is essential to high achievement.

B Gifted Education in Asian Countries

(1) China

(2) Taiwan

(3) Singapore

II Case Study: Promoting Gifted Education in Schools in Hong Kong