Failure of School to Identify Giftedness
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
I have recently begun to understand that my 7 year old son
is a gifted child. His teachers speak of his intelligence in
hushed tones but in the classroom he is failing. They
believe that it is only a problem of discipline i.e. an
exceptionally intelligent child must ipso facto mean a good
student. whereas I believe that the system is failing him.
At the moment I can identify him as a type 2 gifted child.
What can I do personally in the absence of understanding at
school (we live in Italy) to help my son literally not to
get lost in this scholastic environment? Thank you!
A: I am so sorry that the
system is failing your son, something that happens a lot
when people are unaware of the different types of giftedness
that exist. The typical Type 1 gifted is accounts for over
80% of gifted individuals as it is the most easily
identifiable – good scores, hardworking, perfectionist,
loved by teachers and other adults, etc.
Unfortunately, the Type 2 gifted is, more often than not,
viewed as disruptive. Also called the challenging type,
among the distinct traits of these students are creativity,
defensive, questions rules, honest, direct, may have mood
swings, inconsistent work habits, poor self control,
impatient, stands up for convictions, competitive, bored,
frustrated with heightened sensitivity. Some of these traits
make them quite unpopular with teachers although they can be
quite liked by their peers.
Basically for this type, the best support that would work is
acceptance and understanding by adults (especially parents
and teachers). He is probably bored in the classroom, hence
the disruption to satisfy and stimulate him cognitively.
These children would need to be allowed to pursue their
interest to fight boredom and frustration. On the behavioral
side, perhaps modeling of appropriate behavior would help
them appear less disruptive in the classroom. As for home
support, they can benefit from family projects that are
At his age, if there are not options for differential
education to cater for his needs, you may need to support
him at home. There are many activities that can help him
fight boredom (please refer to the advise on previous
newsletters). He would require activities that are
stimulating, allows for the flow of creativity, and involves
leadership and control. Perhaps you may also want to help
the school and especially his teachers to understand and be
aware of the different types of gifted students that exist.
To pinpoint his cognitive strengths and weaknesses, you may
want to consider an IQ test. Also try looking up for some
online support in your area – it is very helpful to be in
touch with another parent with similar concerns even if it’s
of a different profile of giftedness.
Here’s wishing you the very best of luck.