Individual characteristics of gifted students are always fascinating as well as illuminating. For example, one of my young students, at the age of 5, is a rapid learner and keen on reading a great variety of books, enjoys novel ideas and dislikes repetition. Differentiating learners by auditory, visual and kinesthetic styles donesn’t really help teachers understand how to engage him any better. He joined the Math program for talented learners of Center for Talented Youth of Johns Hopkins University 5 months ago. The challenge is his tendency to refuse doing practice of math problems. Once two similar problem solving tasks were given, he would choose to give up the second one and shift to a new kind of problems. He appears to be impatient and over confident at times.
Another student of mine, at 7 years of age, doesn’t like repetition and new problems. His challenge lies on avoiding tasks that demand extra mental effort. While he is a visual learner, he makes careless mistakes quite often. He needs to learn using verbal cues (eg self talk or private speech) to remind himself of using certain strategies (eg reading questions aloud to himself). Actually, he has self doubts over his abilities in figuring math problems, he likes Math though.
Both students appear to make careless mistakes and show inconsistent performance owing to different psychological characteristics and individual needs. Fine tuning the teaching approach is necessary to address their needs and maintain satisfaction in learning.
Responsiveness to individual needs of gifted learners is so important both to satisfaction of the students and the teachers. The saying that learning by teaching always holds true.