Book Review:book_cover.jpg
Diverse Populations of Gifted Children: Meeting Their Needs in the Regular Classroom and Beyond
Starr Cline and Diane Schwartz

Although Cline and Schwartz’s book covers a wide range of different kinds of gifted students, it provides an insightful and enlightening discussion of the highly gifted student that any teacher or educator would certainly benefit from reading. The book strives to define and characterize students with higher levels of giftedness so that identification and program development will satisfy the needs of this truly amazing demographic of students.

Cline and Schwartz’s entire view of giftedness and the kind of identification and programming it demands centers on Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences Theory. Gardner’s theory recognizes several different kinds of intelligences in which gifted students can excel, including verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. Cline and Schwartz argue that using these intelligences in defining giftedness admits and benefits a diverse population of gifted students.

The authors acknowledge that, just as there are many different KINDS of intelligences in which a student may be gifted, there are also varying LEVELS of giftedness among students. In the context of the book, the exceptionally gifted student is one that has an IQ exceeding 160, which sets him or her far apart from gifted peers and makes them the most “traditionally” gifted students.

The book then tackles the question of how to identify these exceptional students, both academically and socially. It provides ample examples of signs to look for, whether the child shows early developmental signs of extreme giftedness or demonstrates his or her giftedness through unique worldviews and ways of processing information. Cline and Schwartz also recognize that once the child reaches school age, their giftedness often becomes evident through IQ scores that have “topped out.” However, these scores fail to recognize and address the social and emotional differences present in a highly gifted student, which are important factors in his or her development of self-confidence and resilience.

Once an exceptionally gifted student is identified, individualized program development is the next crucial step. Cline and Schwartz, in keeping with their advocacy of Multiple Intelligence Theory, argue the importance of assessing the child’s areas of giftedness and developing a curriculum that will be rigorous and intellectually satisfying. They list several enrichment activities and research opportunities that can satisfy the intellectual needs of the highly gifted student, while emphasizing the emotional guidance and support such an extraordinary student will inevitably need.

Perhaps the most helpful and eye-opening discussion of the highly gifted in Diverse Populations of Gifted Children, however, was provided by the case study provided intermittently throughout the chapter. It was written by the mother of a highly gifted student named Gary, and outlined his intellectual, social and emotional development, addressing all of the problems and struggles he encountered throughout his education. If anything, Gary’s story stresses the importance of counseling and emotional support for the highly gifted student as a means of combating the isolation they often feel when they have far surpassed the intellectual levels of their family and peers.

Though it can feel a little dated at times, Diverse Populations of Gifted Students is an excellent resource for any teacher, administrator, or parent that seeks to address the needs of a highly gifted student. It anticipates any questions someone working with an exceptional student might have and addresses them clearly and concisely. The book also provides unique insight into the world of a highly gifted child, which is essential for teachers to understand and connect with a student who is so obviously different from the rest. But most importantly, it emphasizes that the highly gifted child is still a child, and it is critical that they are still treated as such.

~ Sarah Heim