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A History of Giftedness: Paradigms and Paradoxes

  • David Yun Dai
Chapter

Abstract

Any field of research has its core concepts that define the nature of a set of phenomena under investigation as well as determine the methodology of studying these phenomena. In history, the term “gifted” (or “giftedness”) is not only used descriptively to characterize some superior performance or outstanding accomplishments but also explanatorily to point to certain personal qualities responsible for this kind of performance or accomplishments. As our understanding of such performance and accomplishments changes, what “gifted” means also changes. Furthermore, our view of what gifted education can do to identify or promote these qualities also changes accordingly. In this chapter, I delineate the evolution of giftedness and gifted education as one that has gone through paradigm changes since the inception of the field. Existence of multiple, competing paradigms has created paradoxes in the sense of ascribing multiple meanings to the very concept of giftedness, neither of which can be claimed correct or incorrect. I conclude the chapter by arguing that only by going beyond giftedness can we resolve the paradoxes.

Keywords

Giftedness Talent development Essentialism vs. developmentalism Paradigms of gifted education Paradigm shift 

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity at Albany, State University of New YorkAlbanyUSA

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