Friday, December 6, 2013

The "Eagle Eye" of Perception in Gifted Students

Gifted college students are sometimes difficult for administrators to understand and develop proper programs. Many gifted students are simply not recognized and move through their careers, lives, and academic work unchallenged.  The authors Gentry & Lackey (2012) discuss the concept of gifted mismatch and how this is even more difficult for misunderstood minorities that already struggling with their own identity.  People with the highest capacity of development are often left unchallenged in academic programs.

The authors discuss a concept called “Eagle Eye” to help explain giftedness. The Eagle has a wider range of perception and six times more focus. Their world is so rich that according to Gardner they can see things, based upon their perceptual strength, others cannot. Matched with their cognitive abilities the world is fundamentally a different place and many of these students are left to their own devices to make meaning out of it. 

Early literature focuses on the description of gifted students as fluent, flexible, elaborate, and original. They are curious about life, sensitive to their environment, have deep values, and can readily see multiple relationships between things. When including Gardner’s Theory of Multiple intelligence we can see that they use multiple intelligences across different spectrums to navigate their environment.  In other words, where the average person may find moderate success in one genre the gifted student may master multiple planes of human development. 

Accordingly, giftedness can be described as the following: 

Cognition: Vivid and rich imagination, learn new things rapidly, fast thinker;
 Perception: Passionate/intense feelings, childlike sense of wonder, open minded;
 Motivation: Very independent/autonomous, curious/desire to know, high drive;
 Activity: Lot of energy, sustained concentration on things of interest, spontaneous; and
 Social Relations: Questions rules or authority, very compassionate (Heylighen, n.d.).

The author contends that it is a failure of our education system to not recognize giftedness in students. When this occurs on a wide scale the country fails to capitalize on its most important resource-the human mind. This phenomenon becomes even more apparent with minority members who are not often viewed with the same academic potential as others. Our bias, false beliefs, and rigid definitions often leave this group out in the cold even though they have abilities that far exceed the average.

Gentry, R. & Lackey, T. (2011). Simply gifted: Their attributes through the eyes of college students. Paper presented at the International Conference "Peace through Understanding" (Jackson, MS, Apr 4-8, 2011). 2011 16 pp. (ED529168)

Heylighen, F. (n.d.). Gifted people and their problems. Retrieved from

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