Our Vision on Gifted Education

Vision on Gifted Education – dr. Hoogeveen

“Those who work with gifted students should avoid labeling them. Instead, cater to their specific needs at school.” Dr. Lianne Hoogeveen, Programme Director of the Radboud International Training on High Ability (RITHA), about her vision on Gifted Education and the vital importance of a teacher’s ability to perceive potential, and to act as soon as it has been detected.

“Giftedness” as a label causes a lot of confusion, both among children as among teachers. There is no clear definition, while there are many assumptions about Giftedness, like the idea that it could only be measured through an IQ test. Or, that once you have received the label, you should only achieve high grades and never get stuck at school. In addition to this, the use of the label “gifted” can create a gap between those who are called gifted and those who are not, implicating a difference between two types of people.

Beyond the label
In my opinion, children should not be labeled as “gifted”. Instead, I believe the question to be asked should be: What does this specific child, adolescent or adult need, and what is the best way to offer this? What are the needs of a child that, for example, thinks in a much more complex way than most of its classmates? I wish that kindergarten teachers would be able to recognize those children, who are not being challenged enough, and that they would know how to act on this. I wish that teachers would be known as professionals, who are able to decide when a child needs something different, or something more, without labeling it.

About learning, instead of achieving
Schools can cause a lot of damage to highly able children by sending out contradictory messages. For example, we invite children to come to school to learn, but for many highly able children this proves to be untrue. Children turn out to come to school to achieve. Some children learn a lot, but do not obtain good enough grades; they will not pass. Some children do not learn anything, because they already knew; the feedback they get is ‘you did well’. Did they?  This is exactly why a highly able child, trying to comply with what is expected (good grades), and who doesn’t dare to take a risk, will not be likely to try challenging tasks.

According to the law, every child has the right to learn. However, within our educational system we also find children (and adults) who have capacities and needs which we do not know how to deal with. This is not due to learning or developmental problems, but because of the fact that we do not know how to cater to their (high) capacities and needs, in order to facilitate them to learn and develop themselves (like other children).

To learn is to discover ánd to stumble
The learning process does not only include the discovery of new knowledge. Within our schools, there is plenty of attention for attainment targets, to be achieved by the pupils. However, we also like to teach our children how to fail, to persist, to plan. Teachers should set the example: to doubt, make mistakes and admit them. Children attend school to learn, but see their teachers doing everything within their power to nót make mistakes. That is contradictory. No one has a hold on the truth.

Every child has the right to develop itself on its own level
Children with capacities on a high/gifted level should not be labeled. Instead, we should cater to their needs at school. For me, ideal education is based on personal learning – in disregard of the level of the capacities of the children. I would prefer teachers to ask themselves every day what it is they would like their pupils to learn. And what would be necessary to enable them to do so.
Because every child has the right to learn something every day.

About Lianne Hoogeveen

Dr. Lianne Hoogeveen is a registered Developmental Psychologist and Programme Director of the Radboud International Training on High Ability (RITHA) leading to the title ‘ECHA Specialist in Gifted Education’. RITHA is offered by Radboud University (Nijmegen, the Netherlands). Dr. Lianne Hoogeveen closely cooperates with Vice Programme Director, Sven Mathijssen.

"Mensa Fonds" Award

Next to this, Dr. Lianne Hoogeveen is a lecturer within the Department of Pedagogical Sciences, coordinator of the Masters Specialization ‘Gifted Education’, and researcher at the Behavioural Sciences Institute (BSI) at Radboud University. She advises and counsels adolescents and adults at CBO Talent Development. In 2018, she won the Mensa Fund Award (the Netherlands) for her work in the field of Gifted Education.