A Landmark Monograph in Gifted Education, and Why I Disagree with Its Major Conclusion
In 2011, Subotnik, Olszewski-Kubilius, and Worrell published a landmark monograph that should be read by anyone interested in gifted education. However, I find their belief that the field ought to be devoted to encouraging eminence troubling.
Last year saw the publication of one of the most important pieces of scholarship in the field of gifted education of recent times, a monograph entitled “Rethinking Giftedness and Gifted Education: A Proposed Direction Forward Based on Psychological Science.” The authors are Rena F. Subotnik, of the American Psychological Association; Paula Olszewski-Kubilius, of Northwestern University; and Frank C. Worrell, of the University of California, Berkeley. The monograph can be found at http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/publications /journals/pspi/rethinking-giftedness-and-gifted-education.html, as can a brief video in which the authors set forth some of their ideas.
Anybody with a serious interest in gifted education should read, and reread, this monograph. The authors have produced some of the best, and freshest, thinking about giftedness that is likely to emerge from this field in this or any year. Fourteen pages of single-spaced references attest to the sheer amount of material they have read, digested, synthesized, and critiqued. The authors masterfully summarize much of the major work on giftedness and gifted education and then add to it with compelling ideas of their own. These include a definition of giftedness, rather too long to quote here, that earns its length by virtue of its breadth and depth. We spend quite a bit of time in my classes at Teachers College analyzing definitions of giftedness, and this one, newly added to the curriculum, gives my students quite a bit of intellectual meat to chew on.