I came across a very detailed conversation recently in one the Gifted MailLists I follow. I’ve only included a portion of the conversation here. I’ve had experiences teaching both those who strive and achieve regardless of the ‘gifted’ label and those who languish with the label. There are so many variables from cultural motivations to family situations to exposure to technology to teacher attitudes that affects the motivation of the gifted child. The importance of working hard is no small matter in the gifted world! What is your ‘take’ on the issue?
“EW: If praising for intelligence can be a negative thing, what about labeling kids as “gifted”? Could that do more harm than good?
Dweck: Labeling kids as gifted can sometimes do more harm than good. The label “gifted” implies that you have received some magical quality (the gift) that makes you special and more worthy than others. Some students are in danger of getting hung up on this label. They may become so concerned with deserving the label and so worried about losing it that they may lose their love of challenge and learning. They may begin to prefer only things they can do easily and perfectly, thus limiting their intellectual growth.
Psychologists who study creative geniuses point out that the single most important factor in creative achievement is willingness to put in tremendous amounts of effort and to sustain this effort in the face of obstacles. It would be a tragedy if by labeling students as gifted, we limited their creative contributions.
However, we can prevent this by making clear to students that “gifted” simply means that if they work hard and keep on learning and stretching themselves, they will be capable of noteworthy accomplishments. Of course, that is true of many, many people.”