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Is it me or does the expression "gifted and talented" seem a particularly poor use of language to anyone else?

(54 Posts)
thesecretmusicteacher Wed 20-Feb-13 17:05:10

I'm not talking about whether there should be a programme or special treatment for children who are "ahead" in some way here. I don't have an opinion on that.

But the phrase itself..... is it me or does it sound like a parody?

What does it mean to be "gifted"?
What does it mean to be "talented"?

Can one be one but not the other? If not, would it not be preferable to use one word? If so, why are the two words always bundled together like verbal identical twins in the same class....

Was there a committee meeting in which the people who favoured the term "gifted" could not agree with the people who favoured the term "talented"? Was using both terms all the time the only way to end the meeting, even though everyone there would have marked down a 9 year old for such use of language?

I genuinely wonder....

Schmedz Wed 20-Feb-13 17:44:41

I think 'gifted' is supposed to apply to some natural proclivity for learning in some way (IQ) and 'talented' refers to a high level of skill in a particular activities or activities.
It is slightly going out of favour in some circles of education....differentiation, yes. Labelling children as G&T, no.

thesecretmusicteacher Wed 20-Feb-13 17:53:30

ah - as ever I'm late spotting the change of fashion.

good riddance to it I say.

balia Wed 20-Feb-13 17:54:02

Agree with Schmeds - gifted refers to children who are way beyond average in several areas, talented refers to children who have a specific talent in one area.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 20-Feb-13 17:55:59

Yes, it's bonkers. Especially when it's all relative anyway. DD came home a few weeks ago and said 'apparently I'm Gifted and Talented for Art' - yeah, whatever. So much wrong with that sentence I don't know where to start, but the main thing is (sorry dd) she isn't. She's probably one of the most careful, neat and reasonably good at drawing in the class: she does not have a gift for or a talent in Art.

teacherwith2kids Wed 20-Feb-13 18:19:44

In its original formulation, there was seen to be a need to differentiate between the 'Gifted' - those who were way beyond the average in 'typical academic areas' (which sometimes, but not always, may go together with 'high IQ'), and the 'Talented' - those who might have an exceptional ability in e.g. music or sport or dance for example, who might have an ability beyond the norm that needs nurturing and extending, but which might not be identified in 'school / IQ type tests' IYSWIM.

In time, they have become elided to a single formulation... and tbh have become fairly meaningless ... but that was the original thinking.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 20-Feb-13 18:28:07

I agree but I'm also against labelling.
I also don't see how it achieves anything or is easy to understand neither.

For example my dd is very talented in music but so many people say she is gifted (way off the scale)and some traditionally use the phrase gifted to imply a person has been given a gift.

It is not a very good way for anybody to identify with the meaning.

Elibean Wed 20-Feb-13 19:22:34

I shall wonder with you, thesecretmusicteacher (great name by the way - are you?)

thesecretmusicteacher Wed 20-Feb-13 19:56:33

" So much wrong with that sentence I don't know where to start"



Thank you!

thesecretmusicteacher Wed 20-Feb-13 20:08:31

"Gifted and Talented Register" adds a further twist, with Harry-Potter like connotations of a register that is particularly clever.

It's all quite satisfying to analyse really....

Schmedz Wed 20-Feb-13 21:33:14

Another music teacher here...have certainly met many talented young musicians but could count on one hand those who were truly gifted in music!

(As an aside, how much do you HATE this obsession with 'being Grade x'!!!? Where are the people teaching their students to be musicians and develop repertoire and technique!!?)

thesecretmusicteacher Wed 20-Feb-13 22:01:22

Oh Schmedz.....

Well, it has taken two years, but in our school the children now ask "what can you play?" instead.

And I ask them "how many people can you join in with?"

But that's two years' work never letting up for a blooming moment.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 20-Feb-13 22:30:22

Schmedz. Do you find it difficult/ did you find it difficult relating how good the truly gifted musicians were to your colleagues/ other professionals.
I think this could be a problem in a non academic subject, like I said in my post. Our dd is talented in music, not by any grade she has taken but she's always been musical. Now as I said the label to me is not important as dd is not at school anymore. However, it was a contradiction. One of her class teachers said she has a gift, another said she had a talent and should use it. I just think that if people don't understand what is gifted or talented what is the point of a label.

Schmedz. grin we are teaching our dd repertoire and technique along with her other instrumental teachers. Some are grade pieces to give an indication of level. Others are for exams and most are for fun. I find it weird that in principle a person can play 27 pieces and gain a grade 8. Unfortunately, there's not many of us about anymore.

thesecretmusicteacher Thu 21-Feb-13 08:35:17

Morethanpotato . Charles Rosen reported the same problem with piano students

morethanpotatoprints Thu 21-Feb-13 10:04:57

Just going back to the classroom scenario. I have often heard professionals say that just because somebody is G&T in one particular class at one particular time doesn't mean that others won't catch up and therefore the child will no longer be G&T.

To me a person who is gifted or talented irrespective of what particular label they are given, they should always be so, by definition.

Therefore, I completely agree with TOSN. Really G&T imo wil be streets ahead of peers, not just those from their own school or area.

Hamishbear Thu 21-Feb-13 10:38:30

I thought 2% of children were gifted - 97th percentile plus?

I believe in our school it's done by CAT IQ type test (giftedness). So it's not attainment dependent I think (at least for us).

morethanpotatoprints Thu 21-Feb-13 11:02:02


I heard it was the top 5% in a class that were G&T. I don't think the system is clear at all.
Also if a dc is in the top whatever % and the following year are not because others have caught up, or new people joined the class, or the child changed schools then they are no longer G&T. This seems contrary to many beliefs that a true gift or talent is something innate, not here one minute and gone the next.
Maybe it should be judged in a different way perhaps? I don't know how though. Maybe we should just think of the dc as more than able in a particular subject (s) and provide relevant extension exercises and allow them to progress naturally.

indyandlara Thu 21-Feb-13 13:22:54

We no longer use the phrase. We now use highly able. If you have a highly able child in your class there should be a plan in place for how their needs are met, just as there would be for a child with any additional support needs. When the ASN legislation changed in Scotland the scope of what was covered did too.

Terranova Thu 21-Feb-13 13:40:52

I thought every school had a gifted set of children, that being the top 10% of each class, but a lot of people, actually roll eyes at it, as in many cases it's down to the extra work parents are putting in at home, or that the child is just better at a certain subject, at that time compared to class mates, rather than actually being a genius.

morethanpotatoprints Thu 21-Feb-13 14:10:11


I totally agree with this. Our dd has been brought up in a house of music and has self studied from being a tot. She has regular lessons and has done since she was about 4.5. It is no wonder she was above her peers at school and this in itself shouldn't warrant a label of G&T. To me what constitutes the label is innate ability, drive, ambition, being able to acquire certain skills in a really quick time. She knew when she was 3 what she wanted to do and doesn't seem as though she'll stop until she gets there. She has 2 older brothers who were the complete opposite where music was concerned, even though ds2 had a voice of an angel, just wasn't interested.

Schmedz Thu 21-Feb-13 15:49:29

More than...our school doesn't have a G&T register anymore so no problems convincing anyone! The truly gifted musicians only need to perform for all to be aware of what they have. Talented children tend to be able to perform more difficult repertoire than similar aged peers (whether they do it well or not varies! I don't understand this obsession with accelerating your child through 'the grades') especially when you come across so many 'grade 8' youngsters who are actually nowhere near deserving of that title due to the incredible lack of musical maturity, secure technique or breadth of repertoire. They may have passed an exam but they are not musicians.

Ronaldo Thu 21-Feb-13 15:56:23

IME G&T is just a PC phrase designed to make people feel its not just others who are SEN . I used to be the keeper of the G&T register in my last school. G&T was defined as the top 10% in that school in terms of ability range.

This did not relate in any absolute or measurable way outside the school. In fact most of our G&T there wouldnt even make it out of the " norm" on the bell curve. It was sad because often these young people would go off to G&T days hosted by a local university and find themselves well behind the G&T from the local grammar and independent schools, whose rangeof ability was far broader and had more of a selection at the top end.

In other circles G&T was always a descriptor of an ability (IQ)_ score of around the top percentile of the population or better.

Where practical skills were concerned we used the same criteria for identification - but somehow our most gifted sports/dance/drama persons or musical persons never matched the olympians in training at the nearby independent or those musicians who had scholarships to the Cathedral School or even the two youngsters who got places at the Royal Ballet School.

It was an is a nothingness at best and actually I think pretty awful for the kids concerned at worst.

Schmedz Thu 21-Feb-13 16:12:49

Couldn't have said it better myself, Ronaldo!

morethanpotatoprints Thu 21-Feb-13 21:53:52


Music to my ears. If you pardon the pun.

DD won our local Young Musician comp and sang like an angel, she just has something when she sings. Quite spooky really, the judges described it as unworldly presence. (Not sure I'd want that on a c.v)
There was a 6 year old who had just gained distinction at grade 5 piano. Now I know that technically this is some achievement. But listening to the child play showed lack of emotion, style, and maturity. What else could you expect from a 6 year old.

I am so glad your school doesn't do G&T anymore, just my opinion but its worthless.

ReallyTired Thu 21-Feb-13 22:02:36

I thought the label of gifted and talented had been replaced by "more able".

Do well in music, sport or academics is often down to application rather than any innate gift. I feel that labelling a child as gifted at an early age can be really damaging. It can make them big headed and have a real culture shock when they get to the point where they actually have to work to achieve sucess.

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