Gifted or Bright
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
I'm a 16 year old girl at Secondary School. I would like to ask you some
questions regarding the difference between a gifted and a bright child.
First of all, can a gifted child be gifted but still suffer from nerves
and thus sometimes have to retake some of their exams?
Also, is it potentially damaging for a gifted child to be told they are
just a hardworker (as a result of the odd Bs) ?
Is it possible for a gifted child to do tests and end up with results on
A/B borderline from not having revised the material in younger academic
years as a result of disinterest, or must all gifted children get 90 %
first time round?
Hello young lady! Your questions are interesting and I am glad you asked
them so you can clarify some misconception about giftedness.
A gifted child is one that has above average abilities, but just like
everyone else, may achieve or underachieve. Being gifted does not give
any guarantees for straight A's. Gifted individuals who may not be
getting the stimulation they require would burn out and underachieve.
Labeling is not good for a start, so it should be possibly avoided. To
be told that they are a hard worker rather than gifted should not be
damaging if it is taken positively. Gifted children are special and have
some distinct characteristics but not all achieve academically. They may
be gifted in different areas and would achieve very well when tested on
their areas of passion.
It is absolutely possible for a gifted individual to fair averagely or
underachieve if they have been used to viewing learning as uninteresting
& not stimulating. This can happen to anyone regardless of gifts but may
be more pronounced for gifted children as the expectations are higher.
From your queries, I feel that you may be mistaking giftedness being in
the same league as in academic excellence. While a good number of gifted
children excel academically with the proper guidance and recognition and
a specialized education to cater to their needs; there are enough of
them who go unrecognized for years and are doing less that what they are
capable of. As they grow older, they get used to achieving less but the
gifts they have never dies. Most of these gifted individuals whose needs
are not met burn out at some point and may deny their gifts. More
seriously, they may live in isolation and would be prone to mental
Doing averagely during primary years for a gifted child may also mean a
possibility of having a learning disorder that went unnoticed. Some of
these children would adapt and learn how to cope and eventually do well
in later years - the late bloomers. Hence, getting 90% is an expectation
rather than the rule for every gifted child.
this chart on this site by Dr. Bertie Kingore that compares
High Achievers, Gifted Learners, and Creative Thinkers.
Hope I managed to shed some light here.