Abstracts for the symposium at the ECHA conference at Porto – 9-12 September 2020

Abstract Submission: High learning potential versus giftedness

Id: 14448
Key: 00151E7B6D
1st Suggested Topic: Giftedness and inclusion
Sub-Theme: Family and social environment/context of gifted students
Type of presentation: Symposium
Title: Discussion on the implications of the term “giftedness”

Author’s: Britta Weinbrandt (Germany) 1; Madeleine Majunke (Germany) 1; Prof. Dr. Dagmar Bergs-Winkels (Germany) 2; Prof. Dr. Christian Fischer (Germany) 3; Prof. Dr. Albert Ziegler (Germany) 4; Julie Taplin (United Kingdom) 5; Anna Comino-James (United Kingdom) 6; Leonieke Boogaard (Netherlands) 7; Desirée Houkema (Netherlands) 8
Affiliaton’s: 1 – Deutsche Gesellschaft für das hochbegabte Kind; 2 – ASH Berlin; 3 – WWU Münster; 4 – University of Erlangen-Nuremberg; 5 – Potential Plus UK; 6 – The Potential Trust; 7 – Umbrella of Giftedness; 8 – Peers4Parents.

Panel Title and short description | Panel Chair Name and Contact

The “German Association for Gifted Children” (“DGhK”) offers advice to professionals and especially parents of high learning potential children.
“I am not sure if I am right, talking to you”, is one of the most common first sentences our facilitators get to hear in their consultations. Very often, when we apply for a speech at conference, the word ‘hochbegabt’ (‘gifted’) in our abstracts will be changed into ‘begabt’ (‘talented’) by the editors.

Our Association has been founded on the model of the british NAGC – which is now called Potential Plus UK. We all are members of the HELP network – which promotes the term ‘High Learning Potential’ instead of words such as ‘gifted’ and ‘highly able’.

We have been talking to educational and psychological scientists from our advisory board and members of HELP network, Potential Plus UK, the Potential Trust, the Dutch Koepel Hoogbegaafdheid (Umbrella of Giftedness) and Peers4Parents.

Together, we would like to discuss

  • what is it, that the term ‘giftedness’ does to people?
  • the use of ‘potential’ vs. ‘giftedness’
  • how to offer a dynamic view of giftedness
  • how to address the needs of HLP children and their families
  • the mission of parents associations

    DGhK (German Association for Gifted Children) Britta Weinbrandt, Madeleine Majunke

1st Abstract

Gifted or what else…?

There are so many attributes to describe high learning potentials, such as gifted, talented, highly able, exceptional or highly gifted. What do they imply and how are they used within science and daily life? It ranges from “Every child is gifted to the IQ of 130 as a statistical criterion for giftedness.” Both attitudes are not really helpful towards children in kindergarten and school or their parents.

The concepts of gifted, highly able, talented have connotations of elitism and/or academic ability and achievement being the only/most important standard. And the idea of every child being gifted neglects the diverse learning abilities of children. The joint funding initiative of the federal and state governments LemaS (Leistung macht Schule) project in Germany refers to the support of high performing students, high learning potentials in reference to learning and educational chances.

The DGHK (german association of gifted children) has incorporated giftedness in their title. It is also a definition of their mission. Nonetheless they start to question the word “gifted”. Since they are often a first partner where parents turn to, the implication of giftedness can either frighten parents (what if, what are the consequences…?) or be of great help to them (finally someone knows what I am talking about…).

In this lecture, the different concepts of giftedness will be analysed in more detail with the aim of making a constructive contribution to a contemporary use of an appropriate terminology in the light of current scientific knowledge and social challenges.

Prof. Dr. Dagmar Bergs-Winkels / ASH Berlin
Prof. Dr. Christian Fischer / WWU Münster

2nd Abstract

The zeitgeist shifted — and also the connotation of ” gifted”?

In my contribution, I will discuss the term “Giftedness” from a scientific point of view. I will discuss on three levels. From a metatheoretical perspective, I will explore semantic aspects. From a theoretical perspective, I will distinguish it from related terms used alternatively in literature. From an implicit theory perspective, I will examine how the term is predominantly understood. Finally, I will discuss possible practical consequences for the further use of the term.

Prof. Dr. Dr. Albert Ziegler
University of Erlangen-Nuremberg

3rd Abstract

Terminology – Being Gifted or Having Potential

In England the term ‘gifted’ has regularly been viewed as being elitist. It has frequently closed doors rather than opening them, especially in relation to accessing funding, raising awareness about needs, or persuading educational bodies to share details of children’s activities in their schools.

Ever since the National Association for Gifted Children was set up in 1967 there have been discussions by its members about terminology. Its Articles of Association refer to young people with exceptional intellectual and creative capabilities, but do not prescribe any specific criteria. Over the years ‘gifted’ has more often been a burden than a benefit. The battle has frequently been about the term, not about the need. Given this context and the development in understanding internationally over the years about what constitutes ‘giftedness’, in 2013 Potential Plus UK changed its working name and also moved to using ‘high learning potential’.

It is felt that this better describes the fact that these young people have extraordinary and wide-ranging abilities but need opportunities and support in order to realise them. ‘Gifted’ closed doors; ‘potential’ opens them.

In this symposium, Julie Taplin from Potential Plus UK and Anna Comino-James from The Potential Trust (a separate, independent charity supporting these young people) will share details of this shared journey, the pros and cons of changing terminology, how Potential Plus UK now uses Pfeiffer’s Tripartite Model to consider high learning potential through three lenses, and the impact this is starting to have.

Julie Taplin – Potential Plus UK
Anna Comino-James – The Potential Trust, UK

4th Abstract

From a cultural perspective, the term “giftedness” is often less well-known and accepted in other cultures than it is in the Netherlands. Teachers and parents also don’t seem to be aware that characteristics associated with giftedness can be present in children and youngsters with a migration background. Educating teachers and parents on such characteristics could help to identify gifted children from other cultures. However, taking another approach in this may also be the way to go. Using other concepts could lead to more recognition and better opportunities for stimulating talents, creativity and personal development for everyone, regardless of their background.

The concept of developmental potential might be a good alternative. It can be more broadly applied than just the educational context, and it also refers to developing wisdom related to the values within a certain culture or domain. From a dynamic and systemic perspective, other factors that hinder the recognition of talents should also be considered, such as intercultural miscommunication and misinterpretation of behavior. Looking through the lens of the dominant culture the picture of a student with migration background can be incomplete.

In this symposium we want to share ideas about the use of other concepts and terms, and reflect on possible benefits and pitfalls of this proposed approach. Recognizing the differences in culture will hopefully lead to stimulate more talents, to nurture creativity and to help children and adults develop their full potential in a way that is meaningful for them as well as for society.

Leonieke Boogaard – Umbrella of Giftedness, Netherlands
Desirée Houkema, Peers4Parents, Netherlands