Thursday, March 15, 2012

Creativity and IQ

Did you know that it takes a fair amount of brains to be creative? Did you know that most conceptions of giftedness include a creativity component? Did you know that creatively gifted kids do not fit well in the rigid standards that we call public school? 

Creatively gifted students are our future! They think outside the box and they discover new ways to do things. Creatively gifted students can be the Bill Gates or the Steve Jobs of the future, so they deserve our attention and care.

Photo: Dr. E. Paul Torrance (
Paul Torrance, an American psychologist developed what is know as the threshold hypothesis. This states that there is a correlation between IQ and creativity. This means, stated simply,"that it takes a fair amount of brains to be creative." It also means that a highly creative person probably has a fairly high IQ, BUT, a person with a high IQ many not necessarily be creative.

Wikipedia gives a more scholarly explanation:  
"An often cited model is what has come to be known as "the threshold hypothesis," proposed by Ellis Paul Torrance, which holds that a high degree of intelligence appears to be a necessary but not sufficient condition for high creativity. That is, while there is a positive correlation between creativity and intelligence, this correlation disappears for IQs above a threshold of around 120. Such a model has found acceptance by many researchers, although it has not gone unchallenged." 

Photo: Dr. Joseph Renzulli (

Dr. Renzulli, of the University of Connecticut, is one of the foremost researchers in gifted education. His 3 Ring Conception of Gifted, includes a creativity component.

Each of the circles are shown the same size, but not all students have equal amounts of each component. Students who excel in creativity are considered creative-productive gifted. Dr. Renzulli describes his thoughts on creative-productive students...

(In Dr. Renzulli's own words),
"If scores on IQ tests and other measures of cognitive ability only account for a limited proportion of the common variance with school grades, we can be equally certain that these measures do not tell the whole story when it comes to making predictions about creative-productive giftedness. ...
Creative-productive giftedness. describes those aspects of human activity and involvement in which a premium is placed on the development of original material and products that are purposefully designed to have an impact on one or more target audiences. Learning situations that are designed to promote creative-productive giftedness emphasize the use and application of information (content) and thinking skills (process) in an integrated, inductive, and real-problem oriented manner. The role of the student is transformed from that of a learner of prescribed lessons to one in which she or he uses the modus operandi of a firsthand inquirer. This approach is quite different from the development of lesson-learning giftedness, which tends to emphasize deductive learning, structured training in the development of thinking processes, and the acquisition, storage, and retrieval of information. In other words, creative-productive giftedness is simply putting one's abilities to work on problems and areas of study that have personal relevance to the student and that can be escalated to appropriately challenging levels of investigative activity... such as constructivist theory, authentic learning, discovery learning, problem based learning, and performance assessment. " 

Creative-Productive Giftedness (click on the link to read Dr. Renzulli's entire article)

Photo: Dr. Bertie Kingore Ph. D (

Bertie Kingore, Ph.D has a fascinating article that compares high achievers, gifted learners, and creative thinkers. Pay special attention to the cartoons and the chart. Her chart, which compares how each type of learner thinks. is especially enlightening. You will notice, on the chart, that the words that describe creative students, are not necessarily the descriptors of compliant, model students:
sees exceptions
overflows with ideas, many of which will never be developed
is in own group
shares bizzare, sometimes conflicting opinions
questions, "what if"
questions the need for mastery
relishes wild, off-the-wall humor
initiates more projects that will ever be completed
is unconventional
is idiosyncratic read the list, and you have a creatively gifted child...Now what?

Photo: Carol Fertig (

Carol Fertig, who writes a blog for Prufrock Press, gives some wonderful, practical suggestions!

Exquisite Minds: Gifted and Creative Children is a site dedicated to creative-productive children. It includes ideas, links to other sites, and a forum.

Visual Manna is another site that has some wonderful information and food for thought about teaching cre-ative children. She advocates the arts as a way to challenge creative-productive children. Her blog begins with the following...

This quote by Pearl S. Buck, master writer and sculptress is so good! Sometimes creatively gifted students are considered overly dramatic.
“To him…
a touch is a blow,
a sound is a noise,
a misfortune is a tragedy,
a joy is an ecstasy,
a friend is a love,
a lover is a god,
and failure is death.
Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create – - – so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.” 

Relish your wonderful, quirky, dramatic child and sit back and watch what he or she may become.  Advocate for him, push her, give challenge, follow his lead, and you will be well on your way to an adventure! Take it from the mom of several creative-productive students.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Teaching Young gifted students

One of my great passions has been to teach young gifted students. Students as young as 4 or 5 can begin to show promise. This can be demonstrated in many ways,but the most noticeable ones are early ability to read, early ability to understand and compute math problems, unusually high vocabulary, early artistic ability, such as drawing, singing, playing an instrument, etc, and an ability to remember information that is not usual for their age.
Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

There are lists available that help parents to spot giftedness early, although I believe that most parents of gifted students already suspect that their children are advanced . Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D.,(see her credentials here), has a very interesting list of traits for children from birth to 2, and from 2 to 4. Read the article here at Yahoo Voices. I have found it interesting that the checklists that I use with my Kindergarten students do not seem to work for pre-school students. I gave the check lists to several families who had other gifted children and asked them to mark them for their 4 year-olds. All of the checklists came back showing that the 4 year-old children were bright, but not necessarily gifted. Incidentally, all of the students did indeed have gifted qualities and were identified when they were a little bit older. I think that the checklist had too many items that a parent would not be able to observe, until their child was actually in school. Dr. Sandhu's lists, on the other hand, are designed to cover items observable in very young children.

The National Association for Gifted Children, (NAGC), has published an article entitled  Early Childhood Gifted Education. In their own words, "This position statement, initiated by the Early Childhood Division of NAGC, focuses on creating optimal environments for recognizing, developing, and nurturing the strengths and talents of young gifted children, age 3 through 8."
The paper contains a wealth of information from one of the most reputable sources in gifted education and is well worth the read.

There are educators that strongly oppose the identification of gifted students at an early age. They feel that this creates a "winner/loser" scenario where the losers are "Black,Hispanic, and low income students.
Julie Rasicot -Education Week March 12, 2012  
Julie Rasicot explains these concerns in an article for Education Week. Read the article here
I suppose I agree, to a point,  that it is unfair to minorities, IF identifying young gifted students means that they get an entirely different program , which no one else has access to. However, I don't see how allowing a young child to learn to read instead of sitting through lessons prescribed to teach him his ABC's, which he already knows, hurts anyone. Making a gifted child repeat and repeat,however, definitely hurts the gifted child.

An excellent article by Tokyo Children's Academy, (International school for the gifted), encourages the early identification of gifted students, and refutes some of the most common concerns about early identification. They state, "It is commonly held that giftedness cannot be ascertained until third grade; however, this belief is not supported by research. Evidence that it is possible to accurately identify the gifted in primary grades, preschool, and even younger has been available for over half a century."

According to the article, 
"There is also a widespread concern that early identification may find the wrong children. It is believed that IQ scores are unstable in the early years, and that children who look developmentally advanced when they enter school lose their advantage in subsequent years. The myth of the instability of IQ scores was refuted by both Hollingworth (Hollingworth & Kaunitz, 1934) and Terman (Terman & Oden, 1947; 1959) and, more recently, by Elizabeth Hagen, co-creator of the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, Revision IV, and the Cognitive Abilities Test.
The correlations between scores obtained at ages four or five and later IQ scores are slightly lower than those obtained at age nine, but not that much lower. (Hagen, as quoted in Silverman, 1986a)

The article addresses another common assumption: "An equally tenacious and equally bizarre belief is that somehow, magically, all the other children will "catch up" to the gifted child. If two children have different capacities for obtaining information from the environment--for storing, organizing, remembering, retrieving, associating, and applying that information--how on earth could one "catch up" to the other? This would be like saying that a 1972 computer could "catch up" to a 1992 computer, when the former has less memory capacity and speed and less sophisticated organization than the latter. The only way this can appear to happen is when we use only a fraction of the abilities of the child."

And finally: "Another frequently expressed concern is that if we identify gifted children early, we may overlook some children who later turn out to be very capable. This may be true, but it is insufficient reason for ignoring the information we have that can positively identify a large portion of gifted children. There is no method of identification that finds all gifted children; all methods will miss some who are exceptionally bright. Therefore, multiple means must be employed at different stages of development."

The Earlychildhood NEWS puts yet another spin on the controversy:
"Young children with special needs have been the focus of increased attention since the passage of federal legislation, PL 99-457, in 1986. This law is a downward age extension of earlier legislation which guaranteed the provision of special education services in the public schools." They go on to state that young gifted students fall under this law and should therefore have early intervention services available to them. The article also includes another checklist for young gifted students.

I firmly believe that all students deserve an education and that they should learn something new every day. We do not seem to struggle with the idea that students who learn more slowly should receive intervention services, but for some reason we want to hold gifted students back. Most teachers do not see anything wrong with having gifted students repeat and repeat skills that they already know. It is essential that every student is taught on their own level as much as is possible. It is difficult as a parent, to get schools to provide these services, but parents must advocate for their young children. Keep trying! Keep pushing! Don't give up! It is possible to have a great education for your gifted child.


Two more articles you might be interested in:

The Gifted Child Quarterly published an article by Steven Pfeiffer and Yaacov Petscher who give a wonderful overview of  The Gifted Rating Scales–Preschool/Kindergarten Form (GRS-P), which is a new test for identifying young gifted children. Click here for the article.

Identifying Gifted Children gives, "Examples of criteria often used to help identify gifted children and tips on how you can spot a gifted and talented kid."