Giftedness is valued in Estonia but its carriers are left in the shadows

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Nowadays, giftedness is mostly associated with children, which may leave the needs of people in other age groups in the background. Author/source: Alice Achterhof/Unsplash

According to the doctoral thesis written by a doctoral student at Tallinn University’s School of Humanities, Halliki Põlda, giftedness is considered to be important in education and in the society in a broader sense, but the carrier of giftedness is often left in the background.

Within the doctoral thesis, Põlda studied how giftedness is thought, spoken and written about in scientific and common language. The research reveals that giftedness is a special, attractive and rare innate property. Nowadays it is mostly associated with children. However, such a perspective might lead to overlooking the need for student development and support at every age.

“The research indicates a need for guiding and changing such thought patterns and offers a practical solution: communication between educational stakeholders themselves as well as with the public must support the principles of the developmental approach to giftedness and of inclusive education,” explained Halliki Põlda.

Giftedness is considered to be important in education and in the society in a broader sense, but the carrier of giftedness is often left in the background. According to Põlda, there is a social expectation for gifted people to achieve top results, and thus bring success and fame.

Explaining the results of her research, Põlda said, “On the one hand, giftedness is highlighted and emphasized at school, in the community and in the society. On the other hand, the media often describes gifted people slightingly.” Gifted people are also often unnoticed and left without support in the school system because there are not enough resources to deal with them. The doctoral thesis points to the significant need for cooperation in the current educational system.

The research shows that in the current educational system, giftedness primarily stands out in the so-called classical, school-taught fields. Therefore, some types of gifts may be left without attention and support. Giftedness is not associated with educational special needs. According to Põlda, the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act should set out provisions for supporting and developing the unique gifts of all children: the opportunities, activities and the people responsible for it.

Halliki Põlda’s doctoral thesis, “Constructing of the Phenomenon of Giftedness in Public Communication,” (in Estonian) can be read in the ETERA digital library at the Academic Library of Tallinn University, and the supervisor of the doctoral thesis is professor Krista Kerge of Tallinn University. Opponents are an associate professor emeritus and senior research fellow at the University of Tartu, Reet Kasik, and an associate professor at the University of Tartu, Helin Puksand.

The translation of this article from Estonian Public Broadcasting science news portal Novaator was funded by the European Regional Development Fund through Estonian Research Council.

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