Giftedness in Nonacademic Domains

  • Jane Piirto

To put it simplistically, there are several ways to approach giftedness. The term gifted itself is problematic, as it has a connotation of elitism. Few adults would dare to call themselves gifted, but they have no hesitation in labeling children as such. In 1993, the U.S. Office of Educational Research and Improvement removed the term gifted and replaced it with outstanding talent in its position paper called National Excellence. This followed on the heels of Feldhusen’s (1992) groundbreaking editorial in Gifted Child Quarterly, which called for a consideration of talents rather than gifts, and for identification within domains rather than by IQ.

Creativity research, on the other hand, focuses on the PERSON—who is creative? the PROCESS—what happens when one is being creative?; the PRODUCT—what does the creative person make?; and the PRESS—what is the environmental pressure on person, process, product? One judges a product “creative” and then looks at the person who has produced that product, to see what forces operated in the creation of that product, what that person is like. Another approach tests a child through paper and pencil or through observation, pronouncing him or her potentially or really more creative than others, on a presumed normal curve of creativity, as a construct which supposedly exists within everyone to some degree or another. My approach has been to look at the creative person, and the creative press.

This chapter looks at characteristics in childhood of persons who have produced creative products in domains not usually considered when talking of giftedness—visual artists, musicians, actors, and dancers. What are their backgrounds, their personalities, their experiences, and their ways of looking at the world?


Ballet Dancer Gifted Child Talent Development Talented Student Predictive Behavior 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

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  • Jane Piirto

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