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Intelligence Quotient (IQ) is defined as a score that is used to tell how bright a person is in comparison with other people. It has been established that IQ can be used to indicate how potentially successful a person may be basing on a number of factors that are used by experts in this scientific area (Kaufman, 2009). It has further been argued that an average IQ is 100, therefore, any person that has an IQ that is beyond this limit is rated as having a higher intelligence quotient whereas a person with an IQ lower than 100 is rated as having a lower IQ. According to (Kaufman, 2009), a majority of the population has an IQ that ranges between 90 and 110. Although not conclusive, recent studies have shown that intelligence entails a person’s ability to logically reason, solve problems within his environment, and think critically as well as adaptation (Sarason, 1981).
Having understood some of the definitions and complexities that face the definition and operational standards of the term IQ, educationists and psychologists have been faced with another challenging question that involves the parameters that can be used to determine when a person should be labeled “gifted.” This question serves as the basis of my research paper in which I seek to look into the various issues and factors as well as parameters that are used to determine the “giftedness” of a person and by and large if it is indeed true that there are those people who are “gifted”.
Proponents of “giftedness”
Proponents of theories that support the concept of “giftedness” in measuring a person’s IQ have strongly defended their position. According to the Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent (DGMT), there is a difference between giftedness and talent. According to Gross (2004), a person possesses outstanding natural abilities herein gifts that will eventually turn into a skill. This theory posits that in order for one to be labeled “gifted”, several factors such as chance, learning or practice, intrapersonal catalysts and environmental catalysts must be considered. In order for one to become a professional, he must posses a gift that will further manifest in a talent which is the professional skill. He believes that in order for one to be labeled gifted; he must be able to prove his competence in his work environment since this skill is achieved only in gifted people.
Characteristics of gifted people
Indebir is of the opinion that “gifted” children will more often than not exhibit very high reasoning abilities. He states that “compared to an ordinary person” most gifted people are able to think fast and come up with solutions to a problem in a nick of time. They also have an excellent memory with a wider knowledge of vocabulary and immense creativity. He goes ahead posits that gifted people master concepts without repetitions and will in many instances have difficulty interacting with their peers due to their unique abilities and differences in personality and motivation.
Most gifted people have a relatively higher sensitivity to stimuli owing to the different channels of sending and receiving information (Gross). He categorizes them into five dimensions namely emotional, psychomotor, sensual, imaginational and intellectual over excitabilities. Depending on the dominance of stimuli, one will react faster to the stimuli. They will tend to shun unwanted stimulation and instead focus on their chosen task. He posits that giftedness is however unevenly distributed in individuals. Whereas one may have excellent skills in solving logic problems, the same person may have difficulty in spelling while one may be good in reading and writing yet have difficulty in Mathematics.
Criticisms of being labeled “gifted”
Many questions have been put forth concerning the true nature of the term “gifted” and the possible determinants that render one intelligent. According to Piaget and Inhelder (1973), intelligence and “giftedness” are not determined by a person’s ability to read and write but rather a person’s ability to connect with his or her environment. They argue that in order for a person to be categorized as intelligent, he should be in a position to understand his environment and consequently interact with the same environment in a manner that will not make him fail to recognize the role that the environment plays in his life. They refer to environment as a person’s surrounding both physical and social including his academic level and social background.
Using certain tests to determine the IQ of children is an effort in futility since children tend to show certain characteristics that may not be uniform in all the children in the same age bracket (Piaget and Inhelder, 1973). Some children will demonstrate certain abilities at a tender age while others will demonstrate the same abilities at an advanced age yet they may all be classified as “advanced learners”. Therefore, whereas early development may be a characteristic of “giftedness” it is not per se a determinant of giftedness (Piaget and Inhelder, 1973).
Siegel (1987) on the other hand argues that the definition of IQ can only find its solution through an IQ test. In light of this argument, she comes up with a model that is used in determining the IQ of children; she calls it Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised or WISC-R. This test is based on a child’s ability to verbally express himself so as to be tested on his memory skills, perceptual skills, vocabulary, and motor co-ordination inter alia.
According to Shenk (2010), our abilities are not cast in stone and are thus malleable and capable of being sculpted. He is of the opinion that it is hard for one to know his true ability before engaging in various activities that will indeed prove the abilities. He bases his argument on science of genetics, talent and intelligence. He is of the opinion that there exists nothing as being “gifted” since even ordinary brains are capable of doing extra ordinary things as long as they have been provoked. He goes ahead and states that even the earlier “gifted” people may end up “slipping back into ordinary achievement (Schulten).”
“Intelligence is not an innate thing but a developed process (Binet, Simon & Kite, 2010).” They further assert that it is not a permanent thing or a fixed quantity that cannot be increased, “we do not inherit a fixed amount of intelligence (Binet, Simon & Kite, 2010).” It has been proven that a person’s IQ can dramatically change over a period of time; research has shown that culture has played a major role in raising IQ scores over the last century (Schulten). As such, there is no such thing as being “gifted”. Schulten quoting Ceci posits that even the so called “gifted” people are not assured of adult success even though the “ordinary” students have the potential of achieving great feats in future.
Another research conducted in 1920s by Lewis Terman also proved otherwise regarding the “gifted” and “ordinary” children (Schulten). He followed the lives of 15 children who had been labeled “exceptionally superior”. It was shocking for him when he concluded that as these children grew up, they became less exceptional than the ordinary children in his class. In as much as they grew up to be healthier than many Americans, there was nothing so special about them but instead ended up as ordinary people.
Looking at the various points that are for and against the use of the term “gifted”, it is my humble opinion that IQ tests indeed cannot be used to determine a person’s future success or “giftedness”. Basing on Schulten’s definition of the term “gift” as a special ability that an individual possesses, it is true that one can be labeled gifted if he posses that unique ability, he or she should not necessarily have a higher IQ. Judging a person’s ability or “giftedness” herein using IQ as a parameter is a misguiding factor that does not hold water in my humble submission hence my agreement with Shenk's opinion. It is therefore imperative for every teacher, parent and guardian not to discriminate against any body on the basis of their IQ. Instead, they should focus on identifying a person’s unique ability and use it to label him as being gifted.