Gifted and talented learners possess exceptional abilities that set them apart from their peers. However, the path to realizing their full potential can be riddled with challenges, and one critical aspect that often goes overlooked is the development of a strong sense of purpose. Let’s delve into the significance of cultivating a sense of purpose for gifted learners and explore how it can positively impact their educational journey and future contributions to society.
Who is a Gifted Learner?
According to NAGC, the National Association for Gifted Children’s definition of giftedness, students with gifts and talents perform—or have the capability to perform—at higher levels compared to others of the same age, experience, and environment in one or more domains. These students often demonstrate high levels of creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving skills. While they possess immense potential, a significant number of gifted learners remain underachievers.
70% of Gifted & Talented students remain underachievers for life.
This is due to a variety of factors like narrow ways of identifying giftedness, lack of personalized development of the gifts and talents etc. One of the most prominent being a lack of challenge in their educational environment. When gifted students are not sufficiently stimulated, boredom can creep in, leading to disengagement and a decline in academic performance.
Too Much Focus on Academics
Another contributing factor to the underachievement of gifted learners is the excessive emphasis on academic advancement. While excelling academically is important, it should not come at the expense of developing a broader sense of purpose in life. Gifted students need opportunities to explore their passions, interests, and potential contributions to society beyond the confines of a traditional classroom.
The Importance of a Sense of Purpose
Especially as gifted students enter their teenage years, they begin to grapple with questions about their role in society and their future career development. This is where a sense of purpose becomes crucial. Victor Frankl, in his renowned work “Man’s Search for Meaning,” eloquently states, “A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the ‘why’ for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any ‘how.'”
In other words, having a sense of purpose provides a powerful motivation that can help gifted learners overcome challenges, boredom, and underachievement. It gives them a reason to persevere, learn, and grow.
Research Supporting the Importance of Purpose
Recent research conducted by Yeager (2014) supports the idea that promoting a prosocial, self-transcendent purpose can improve academic self-regulation among students. This research suggests that students with a sense of purpose beyond themselves are more likely to persist even in tedious learning activities. These activities lay the foundation for their future contributions to the world beyond the self.
In conclusion, fostering a strong sense of purpose can be a game-changer for the Gifted & Talented learners. It empowers them to channel their exceptional abilities toward meaningful and impactful endeavors. By recognizing the importance of purpose in education and life, we can ensure that gifted learners not only excel academically but also become future leaders and contributors to society, taking the world forward.