Giftedness always has some major associations with it – many that are not necessarily positive or achievable. And maybe that has something to do with the way giftedness has been represented over all of these years. But right now you can experience a whole new way of looking at things…
Gifted people have, to date, been recognized as gifted primarily by their very high IQ scores of usually 130 points or more. Great. But in what way has this information usually been represented? By the ever popular bell curve with an arrow pointing to the very small section at the upper end.
Now there isn’t anything wrong with that in and of itself. Even here on this site I have that graph available for viewing.
But there’s an adverse effect that can very easily be caused by using this bell curve type of graph: the perhaps-even-subconscious suggestion that everyone in that small section of the curve is part of a well-defined, compact group. The thoughts are that “the small section there at the end must be uniform because it’s so tiny”. And, “If there are so few people that fall into this teeny section, how different could they possibly be?”
Are you beginning to see the problem? The diversity of giftedness isn’t being visually suggested by the small section of the bell.
This perception of uniformity isn’t correct for two main reasons:
1. Gifted adults are by no means all the same — their specific skills, talents, abilities and experiences can be vastly different. (Consider Einstein vs. VanGogh.)
2. Many gifted adults end up denying their giftedness because they can list 100 ways that they are different from someone else whom they are certain is gifted, especially if there isn’t a specific IQ score to fall back on.
If giftedness gets hidden away or refused for any reason, it’s a terrible loss.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
What if giftedness began to be viewed differently? What if people could recognize that each gifted person is unique and potentially vastly different from others in the same category? What if, in one fell swoop, everyone could see and understand why so many gifted adults feel isolated and misunderstood? Well, it is possible.
Take a look at the picture that goes along with this article. Imagine that this is the traditional bell curve image but this time you’re looking at it from above. The centre of the circle is the middle of the bell curve, and all of the dots that fall outside of the largest circle represent the small percentage of people who are at the end of the bell, the ones that make up the gifted population. (Extremely gifted adults would probably even fall completely outside of the box altogether.) Can you feel the isolation of the gifted now?
So the gifted are represented by the sparse scattering of dots falling significantly outside the traditional norm. Does that help to make the understanding of giftedness much clearer? That one simple image really brings a whole new perspective, doesn’t it?
So for those of you out there who say you aren’t gifted because you can’t do such-and-such, or you don’t know this or that, or you’re missing this kind of characteristic, you’re selling yourself short.
That wide area outside the circle is where you fall — the part that has innumerable places to occupy each with its own distinct point in space.
Now that’s really something to think about, wouldn’t you say?
(Illustration from work by Willem Kuipers).