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Intellectual Giftedness in Young Children: Recognition and Development.

Intellectual Giftedness in Young Children: Recognition and Development. J. R. Whitmore. New York: The Haworth Press, 1987. 180 pp. $22.95 (hard cover). Also published as the Journal of Children in Contemporary Society, 8(3/4). In the past 5 years there have been a number of texts on identifying and educating gifted children. The education of the young gifted/talented child, if the subject is raised at all, is usually relegated to a few pages near the end of these books under a section titled, "Special Areas of concern" or "Other Issues in Gifted Education." This paucity has been remedied very nicely, however, with the publication of Whitmore's intellectual Giftedness in Young Children. The book, originally published as a monograph for the Journal of Children in Contemporary Society, succinctly covers current thought on early childhood giftedness. Whitmore has assembled chapters from eight well-known researchers, each of whom has made innovative contributions to current understanding of the psychological, social, familial, and educational factors affecting the gifted young child.

Intellectual Giftedness in Young Children is divided into four parts, each containing two complementary chapters on a common theme. Part One focuses on the nature of giftedness and talent in young persons. Barbara Clark, well-known for her recent research on brain development and its instructional implications, brings the reader up to date concerning recent findings on pre- and neonatal development. She presents convincing evidence that the child's environment ultimately determines how extensively his/her intellectual potential will be developed.

The complementary article for this section was written by Wendy Roedell, Director of the Northwest Gifted Education Center in Seattle, Washington. In as thorough a manner as Clark, she identifies the social and emotional vulnerabilities of young gifted children. Roedell suggests several common-sense steps parents and educators can take to help these children face some of the difficulties of growing up.

Part Two of Intellectual Giftedness deals with recognizing giftedness in young children. Merle Kames and Lawrence Johnson, director and principal evaluator, respectively, of several federal, state, and locally supported programs for handicapped and gifted preschoolers in Illinois, describe successful formal and informal means for identifying young, gifted children. Not only are Karnes and Johnson very specific about means for finding these children, but also contribute a valuable list of tests for young children that cover intelligence, achievement readiness, perceptual/motor development, social development, creative and productive thinking, self-concept, musical ability and achievement motivation. For this list alone, the book is worth its weight in gold ! Virginia Ehrlich's complementary chapter describes seven parent-rated traits, highly correlated with intelligence tests. The only disappointment in Ehrlich's chapter was her discussion of the "pushed" child. It is evident that some families place extraordinarily high expectations on their gifted children; nevertheless, there is something illogical about the phenomenon of the overachiever, the child who because he is pushed achieves more than he ,should." Logically, if one does not have the potential to achieve, one cannot do so, no matter how motivated to do well. Ehrlich's claim that such children level off early in the schooling process is spurious. It is more likely that a reduction in a stimulating environment once the child has entered school has contributed to the leveling. It is hoped that the "pushed child" syndrome will be one misconception educators erase from their explanations of young children's precocious behavior.

The third section of the book deals with development of intellectual giftedness in children. Psychologist Linda Silverman has written widely about giftedness in families and, in the first chapter of this section, recounts some of her ground-breaking work on second-born, gifted children who exhibit their potential in very different ways than their older siblings. Silverman also describes progress in her recent studies regarding the relationship between recurrent ear infections in the first three years of life and depressed intelligence test scores.

Margie Kitano, director of the New Mexico State University Preschool for the Gifted, writes the complementary chapter in this section. She argues that parents must carefully assess their child's characteristics and match them to an appropriate preschool option. Perhaps Kitano's most valuable contribution in this chapter is her list of questions by which parents can judge whether a particular preschool curriculum will meet their child's needs. These questions touch on the elements one would hope every gifted program would contain.

Perhaps the most scholarly chapter in Intellectual Giftedness in Young Children is Carolyn Callahan's contribution to Part Four. She thoroughly reviews recent research on gender differences among young, gifted children, concluding that the major difference is in motivation to achieve. Callahan makes specific suggestions for changing the environmental, social, and cultural elements that may contribute to differential levels of achievement. Likewise, she presents points to consider in the selection of a preschool for the bright, young girl. As usual, her suggestions are sensible and well-supported by research.

Joanne Rand Whitmore has contributed the last chapter of this book, in which she looks more deeply into the general phenomenon of severe underachievement. Based on the successes she achieved with the Cupertino Schools project, she focuses on how the classroom environment can be shaped to circumvent and/or remediate demonstrated academic underachievement.

Intellectual Giftedness in Young Children is a much-needed valuable contribution to the field. If one were to select two books that summarize recent developments in this small, specialized field, this book and Merle Karnes' The Underserved: Our Young Gifted Children would be my choices. There is no question that these two books provide a "proper foundation" upon which this important field can continue to build.
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Author:Rogers, Karen B.
Publication:Exceptional Children
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Feb 1, 1989
Words:921
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