This is the sixth edition of Growing Up Gifted. As I began the first edition more than 20 years ago, it was my intention to write a book for my students that would include the ideas I found important in supporting my work with gifted learners. I wanted the book to be helpful to the parents of gifted students as well because I believe that parents are their first and most important teachers. Brain researchers had just begun to talk about the implications of their work for human learning, and I wanted to make that information available to those with whom I worked. The importance of early learning in human mental development was just being noted and, in some scientific circles, enriching our heredity was first being discussed. I wanted to bring these ideas into the classrooms so that all children could come closer to reaching their full potential.
As my students and I worked to bring research into practice for seven years in an experimental school setting we developed with gifted and highly gifted learners, we shared excitement and growth. Later editions of the book reflected that growth, explored new ideas, and began to be useful not only to my students but to students throughout the world. Over the years, the work of many other researchers enriched our efforts.
At this writing, the book retains parts of its original structure and yet has included knowledge and practice froth so many others that it is only the vision that remains the same. Optimizing learning, synthesizing knowledge from many disciplines, and bringing together and integrating best practices from classrooms where children grow all added to the texture of the book. All of this is communicated to advocate for students whom the schools have designated as gifted learners. By sharing it, I hope that more children will grow up gifted and bring their gifts to the world.
There are three parts to the book: Part I is intended to create an understanding of who gifted learners are, how they become gifted, and what giftedness and creativity are like as one grows cognitively, socially, emotionally, and intuitively.
Part II builds on this understanding by describing school programs. How gifted learners can be supported at school and the services required to meet their needs and optimize their experiences are explored. A continuum of such services is discussed, and the options that schools can develop to serve gifted learners in the elementary, middle school, and high school programs are described. Homeschooling and global education are a part of this discussion. Evaluating programs to improve their quality, reach, and impact is explored. The methods and complexities of identifying giftedness are also found in this section.
Part III is devoted to the theories and practices of teaching gifted learners. Numerous curriculum models used to provide education for gifted learners are described. The ideas for optimizing learning that have been evolving from the 1970s are organized and shared and the integrative Education Model, developed from translating brain research for use in the classroom, is briefly explained. Differentiating and individualizing the curriculum and the instruction, so necessary for gifted learners, are a part of the knowledge base shared in this section.
Finally, the diversity of cultures and the effect they have on the development and the expression of giftedness is explored. The impact of gender, race, ethnicity, and poverty must be carefully considered and possible avenues of intervention understood if we are to overcome any barriers that students from these cultural groups might encounter. Gifted learners who are in need because of disabilities or underachievement and those learners who are limited by their experiences with cultural diversity must be helped to reverse the loss and realize the strength and richness that such diversity can bring. Only through extending our knowledge base and increasing the number of strategies that work grill we be able to meet these needs.
This book is written for the teachers at home and at school who are striving to understand a little better, reach a little higher, and achieve with excellence a little more often. At this time there is more research in the field, more programs available in the school, more theories and practices to report, and more attention to quality evident. I have tried to bring a well-rounded sample of all this growth to you so that you can use it for the students whom you have chosen to serve. Included are activities, summaries, questions, graphics, charts, illustrations, and vignettes drawn from my experiences to aid in your understanding.
The book ends with a special epilogue that shares an experience that profoundly affected me during a trip to the newly reestablished nation Kyrgyzstan. With the sharing of this experience, we come full circle to the concerns of excellence and equity explored in the first chapter. I believe that all of you who have chosen to support the growth of gifted learners will find in this book much that will aid you to be more effective and caring in your work. The information in this book provides, however, more than educational ideas; it provides a way, as my colleague in Kyrgyzstan so eloquently stated, "to survive as a country and find our leaders in our children." It is my intent to provide you with an understanding of intelligence and its nurture so that more of our children can realize their unique gifts and talents and by your efforts they may truly have the opportunity to be growing up gifted.
I would like to thank the reviewers of this edition: Dorothy Armstrong, Grand Valley State University; Art Attell, University of Arkansas at Monticello; and Leonard Ganschow, Miami University, Ohio. They gave me some very good ideas for organization and approach that allowed me to enrich the book. I would also like to acknowledge my copyeditor, Robyn Durand, whose most helpful work clarified and strengthened my writing. As always, I am most indebted to my students, who over the years have taught me the real meaning and honor of being a teacher.
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