In the school world engaged in the multiplicity of functions and bureaucratic fulfillments that often reduce the vital energy of the teaching staff itself, the recognition of gifted subjects still today turns out to be a difficult task also due to the absence of a single definition shared by all , and also for the lack of knowledge in this field by the teachers themselves.
Certainly teachers are not the figures who can certify the presence of a gifted condition, but they are certainly the first who can observe the presence of typical characteristics and general traits in each pupil.
For this reason it is necessary and essential that teachers be trained on the subject, on the strategies for identifying such cases, which instead, as we all know, does not often happen in the Italian school environment.
To date we do not have a single assessment test of the giftedness on which all professionals in the field agree, and there is not even a single score on a test that is able to provide us with all the useful information on a case of giftedness in order to better understand this situation, we need more tests , more criteria and more time available and so that serious and careful observation can give the desired results, useful both for the individual student and for the class context in which he is inserted.
Recognizing the gifted student early, allows you to work in school and non-scholastic contexts, which support him in his condition, stimulate him and involve him so as to be able to immediately develop his potential taking into account the needs also on a social level, emotional and behavioral.
What could be the needs and their satisfaction within a classroom context for gifted students?
Once observed and identified, the students gifted have special program needs, as much as students with recognized deficits, the learning needs for i gifted they are in fact different and complex compared to their peers and that is why they need special education services.
What can be encountered if adequate school support is not offered to gifted will be creating a classroom situation in which the student gifted will turn out to be a disorganized student with not indifferent scholastic difficulties in terms of inclusion and participation in the educational and didactic dialogue.
In fact, gifted individuals need specific training that is capable of satisfying their emotional and cognitive needs in order to correctly integrate them into the classroom context and achieve maximum educational success, appropriate to their potential . If you don’t intervene with suitable and special courses, the risk will be that of taking the student on the opposite path to success, namely that of dropping out of school.
For students giftedthere is no single teaching method, each student has their own learning needs, interests, talents and potential, it is necessary that the teaching programs of the gifted are differentiated and designed individually on the basis of the personal characteristics of each of them, so as to allow excellent results to be achieved in the school environment, but also working on other aspects at the same time.
When this should not be applied, from an academic point of view there could be a risk of underperforming o underachievement, when the potential is not recognized and supported in a positive way (often the gifted subject tends not to show it and obtains extremely low performances compared to what he could do). You could also face a school dropout or drop-outsocial isolation or even loss of self-esteem.
What other risks could gifted subjects run when they are not recognized for the high cognitive potential they possess?
In order for the students gifted for which, as mentioned above, there is not a single teaching method as each student has their own learning needs, it is necessary to operate simultaneously on other aspects in order to avoid the risk of school failure or, better yet, of distrust in their communication skills. In this regard, the following operational and observational indications to be carried out during the didactic action could be valid:
- Mis-diagnosis or absence of dual diagnosis, this frequently occurs in the case of students twice exceptional which are part of the fifth profile of giftedness proposed by Betts and Neihart. Since there is a masking effect of high cognitive abilities, it is often difficult to identify them also from the point of view of giftedness and thus the deficit is given greater prominence. The most frequent misdiagnoses are oppositional defiant disorder, mood disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, ADHD;
- dysfunctional conduct;
- Adolescent depression, at the time when the subject gifted enters the complex world of adolescence without having been adequately identified and supported may begin to show the typical traits of this condition, perfectionism, unusual sensitivity, introversion, loneliness and alienation, excessive self-criticism, lack of emotional intelligence. It is therefore necessary for the adolescent to have a social network and to be included in the environment for what it really is.
What indication could be useful in the field of docimological research for these subjects?
Given the numerous difficulties in identifying giftedness, the National Council of the Order of Psychologists in 2018 developed official guidelines that must be followed for their evaluation, which we can summarize below:
- Observation to mainly evaluate the communication and non-verbal aspects of the subject.
- Interview with the subject to explain the reason for the exam and evaluate, at the same time, the level of adaptation in the different environments, the quality of social relationships and his/her main interests.
- Interview with the parents to explain the situation to them and collect together every possible element useful for the final evaluation, such as elements that may also show the presence of a disorder.
- Intelligence level test.
- Questionnaires for parents, for the subject under examination and for the teachers of the latter to obtain all the necessary information.
A great step forward in the identification of giftedness at school level was obtained with the note n. 562 of 3 April 2019 of the MIUR: pupils recognized as gifted are officially included in the system of pupils with special educational needs (SEN).
In this way, in the event that there are situations of need and scholastic discomfort, teachers will be able to seek customized solutions for each pupil.
This change in the Italian school world has made it possible to give greater importance to giftedness, no longer considering pupils gifted as subjects able to learn and succeed on their own; In all of this, inclusive teaching plays a very important role, thanks to which it is possible to offer the same opportunities to each student, but in a personalized way adapted to each one’s needs.