A Case Study of a Highly Gifted StudentCole Shanholtz

James is a highly gifted high school junior whose talents went unrecognized until the 4th grade. He was awkward, difficult at times, and almost always unwilling to complete classwork. He was even considered for special education testing due to his slow physical development as a young child, and what seemed like his inability to complete simple assignments. Upon entering the fourth grade, his teacher noticed his exceptional results on the previous years' standardized tests. James had exceeded expectations in every subject area on the IOWA Test, and had reading comprehension skills far above his age level. James was tested for the gifted programs, and was accepted in the fourth grade. Unfortunately, James' test scores and gifted files were lost when multiple elementary schools merged into one centrally located school in the city of Hartwell. However, James' parents and James himself remember vividly the day when they discovered he was not just "smart", but reading at a college level in the 4th grade. For as long as James' teachers and parents can remember, he has had a book in his hands at almost all hours of his day.

James continued his trend of not completing work throughout elementary and middle school, and still finds completing homework and longterm assignments difficult. He always scores high on quizzes and tests without paying attention in class, but maintains low class averages because of his lack of daily assignments and homework. He finds busy work, rote memorization, and what he refers to as "utility" learning a complete waste of time, and wishes that more time was spent reflecting, discussing, and critically thinking about concepts taught in school. On his free time he reads college level textbooks, researches quantum physics, and reads inumerable amounts of fiction and non-fiction. His strongest subject areas are chemistry,physics, music and language. He spends a lot of time worrying about the concept of time, and how there is not enough time to learn and experience the multitude of things he plans on doing. Unfortunately, some of his educational goals may not be met because his class grades are not as competitive as others in his class.

Socially, James mostly interacts with other gifted students. His self-concept on the surface level seems very strong because of his egotistical outlook on life, but his frequent criticism of others leads one to believe that may be emotionally insecure. He has no patience for students who struggle understanding concepts in class, and often will be rude and overly critical of students below his intellectual level. He is very aware of his giftedness to a point that many educators in the school system find him obnoxious and difficult to teach. James prefers the company of his highly intelligent peers or adults. There are only a few teachers who James feels like understand him, and he is extremely vocal about those who do not. He has a lot of disdain for things and people he does not like, but I imagine with maturity this will subside.

In the following interview, James reflects on what it has been like growing up highly gifted, how it has affected his education, how he feels about the school system and honors program, and what changes he would make if possible.

The Ramblings of a Highly Gifted Student: