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The 6 Different Types of Giftedness

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: Does gifted child follow directions well and be motivated by making A's?

A: Over 20 years of research has enabled researchers come up with different types of giftedness. There are many versions of this but the one I feel fits in rather well in the 6 types of giftedness was introduced by researchers Betts and Neihart which also corresponded with my own finding in my doctoral dissertation. Gifted children share some distinct characteristics generally but can be quite different in many others. However, there is no clear cut of the types; and a combination is always possible. This is an objective guide should you want to understand the different types of gifted individuals that exist.

Typically the 6 types of giftedness includes:

  • The successful (Type 1)

  • The challenging (Type 2)

  • The underground (Type 3)

  • The dropouts (Type 4)

  • The double labeled (Type 5) and

  • The autonomous learner (Type 6)

The summary of each of the profile is briefly discussed below:

The Type 1's are the most easily identifiable, and may account for up to about 90% of the identified gifted students in schools. They are the students who have learnt the system and are well adjusted to society with a generally high self-concept. They are obedient, display appropriate behavior, and are high achievers, therefore, loved by parents and teachers. However, they can also get bored at school and learn the system fast enough so as to use the minimum effort to get by. They are also dependent on the system, thus less creative and imaginative, and lack autonomy.

The Type 2 gifted are the divergently gifted, who possess high levels of creativity. They do not conform to the system and often have conflicts with teachers and parents. They get frustrated, as the school system does not recognize their abilities. They may be seen as disruptive in the classroom and often possess negative self-concepts, even though they are quite creative. This is the group of gifted students who are at risk of dropping out of schools for unhealthy activities, like getting involved in drugs or exhibiting delinquent behavior.

The Type 3's refers to gifted students who deny their talents or hide their giftedness in order to feel more included with a non-gifted peer group. They are generally females, who are frequently insecure and anxious as their belonging needs rise dramatically at that stage. Their changing needs often conflicts with the expectations of parents and teachers. These types appear to benefit from being accepted as they are at the time.

The Type 4 gifted are the angry and frustrated students whose needs have not been recognized for many years and they feel rejected in the system. They express themselves by being depressed or withdrawn and responding defensively. They are identified very late; therefore, they are bitter and resentful due to feelings of neglect and have very low self-esteem. For these students, counseling is highly recommended.

Students identified as Type 5 are gifted students who are physically or emotionally handicapped in some way, or have a learning disability. This group does not show behaviors of giftedness that can identify them in schools. They show signs of stress, frustration, rejection, helplessness, or isolation. They are also often impatient and critical with a low self-esteem. These students are easily ignored as they are seen as average. School systems seem to focus more on their weaknesses, and therefore fail to nurture their strengths.

Finally, the Type 6 gifted are the autonomous learners who have learnt to work effectively in the school system. Unlike Type 1, they do not work for the system, but rather make the system work for them. They are very successful, liked by parents, teachers and peers, and have a high self-concept with some leadership capacity within their surroundings. They accept themselves and are risk takers, which goes well with their independent and self-directed nature. They are also able to express their feelings, goals, and needs freely and appropriately.

Types 1 & 6 - generally identifiable.
Types 2, 3, 4, 5 - risk of not being identified.

As for your question, a gifted child of Type 1 and 6 would usually follow directions well and vice-versa for the other types. Motivation for getting A's would depend on how worthy the child views an A as. If he gets it very easily, he may not feel very challenged and thus, motivation and satisfaction levels drop.

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5 Levels of Gifted: School Issues and Educational Options
Deborah Ruf, Ph.D

This book describes differences in developmental stages within the gifted population. The children are classified into five levels of giftedness based on behaviors and developmental milestones, giving parents and educators a reference guide to compare with their own gifted children or students.

A child's intellectual level can thus be estimated, after which the book provides different educational approaches and practical advice, including how to find the best type of school for each level.



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