Gifted and Talented Education

The concept of providing separate schooling areas so that a small number of students can learn in a specially designed environment that caters to a gifted and talented education is a wise idea. Wise though it may be, it isn't a universally accepted means of schooling in the United States at this time. In fact, each state determines the significance of such programs so standards, regulations, and procedures vary widely within the US.

The concept of providing separate, specialized programs delivering a gifted and talented education to the small segment of a population is not a new concept, however. The actual details have changed over time but the acknowledgment and encouragement of showcasing the special abilities of the population's gifted and talented individuals is a time-honored tradition.

Almost 2,500 years ago, Plato developed a program of gifted and talented education systems for intellectually exceptional young Greeks, male and female alike.

In China, the Tang Dynasty (circa 618 CE) called all child prodigies to a lifetime of personal education and creative expression at the imperial court.

During the Renaissance, a gifted and talented education would be awarded by the government or a wealthy private benefactor who provided an environment where the gifted artist could immerse himself totally in his craft, be it the arts, literature, or architecture. Tutors, masters, students, patrons, and admirers surrounded the artist night and day.

Sir Francis Galton (late 19th century) first measured the intellectual capacities of thousands of English children in order to rank them in classes identified as gifted, capable, average, and degenerate. His plan was to develop school programs for the gifted and capable classes of students, the first learning program designed as a form of gifted and talented education.

It was 1916 when Lewis Terman coined the phrase, "intelligence quotient," or IQ, which he described as the ability for abstract thinking as measured by comparing a person's mental age to his or her physical age, and then comparing that to the IQs of others the same age.

From that point on, the quest for gifted and talented education programs progressed into full swing. Over the last 100 years, the evolution of programs for gifted and talented children has been influenced by such far-reaching factors as the Soviet Union's Sputnik mission, a bad report card for a nation at risk, almost $10 million per year funded by the Jacob Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act, to the current administrations refusal to release that $10 million Javits fund each year, and the accountability of individual schools as mandated by the No Child Left Behind act of 2002.

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