Thursday, February 10, 2011

Is there a difference between smart and gifted?

As part of writing about different families for Gifted Exchange, I got an interesting email from Suzanne a few weeks ago. She wrote that she had "the unique perspective of raising gifted children and being married to a gifted adult but not being gifted myself." As she said, "Don't get me wrong, I am perfectly intelligent. I am able to recognize that my mind does not absorb information or make the same kind of leaps theirs do."

I found this curious and asked for more details. What did she think the difference was? "In my house, the difference between being perfectly intelligent and gifted comes out in things like processing speed," she said. "I tend to look at a problem and think about it and think about it some more. Maybe pull out some paper and a calculator or a ruler or some other tool. Whereas my husband will walk up and jiggle something or move two things around and BAM! It's solved. I'll get the job done just not as quickly or elegantly."

As for her 5-year-old, "I've noticed that my daughter is more like my husband in problem solving and processing speed," she wrote. "While I've been typing this email, my children have been in the next room watching 'The Cat in the Hat' on PBS. There is some theme music that pops up every time the Cat in the Hat does, it's maybe two measures of music. I heard my daughter say 'Hmm' and come into the room where I am and within 10 notes on the piano she was playing the theme music."

What do you think, GE readers? What is the difference between "perfectly intelligent" and gifted? Do you have a mixed family?

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

This quotes came from a GT specialist:

"Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target
no one else can see."
- Arthur Schopenhauer

gasstationwithoutpumps said...

So far as I can see, "gifted" and "smart" are synonymous, and neither has much to do with "talented".

Of course, from my perspective, most of the people who think they are smart aren't, so perhaps I use the term differently from how other people do.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Suzanne. Smart is good. Smart means you can learn things without tons of repetition and can apply what you learn, rather than just memorizing. Gifted means "seeing" relationships without having to work out individual steps (which can get really frustrating when you reach a level where you can't just "see" it and have to learn the steps!). It means making connections most people don't make, or wanting more depth.

I do think "gifts" are the same as "talents." You can be talented/gifted in lots of different ways, not all of them applicable to academics.

Anonymous said...

I agree there's a difference, but processing speed isn't at the center of that difference. Check out Dyslexic Advantage and other work by Drs. Brock & Fernette Eide for more on that topic. I think it does have something to do, however, with being able to see connections where others do not, and to approach and solve problems with divergent thinking.

Jude said...

I was the stupid one in the nuclear family I grew up in--not as stupid as my parents, but not as smart as my brothers. That's what I used to think. But now I hang out with my own kids and their friends (all gifted) and realize that I never was the stupid one. I have one friend who's intelligent, and we have a lot of other friends who aren't as smart as we are. It took me a long time to accept my own intelligence, and to realize that hey, I am smarter than a lot of people, perhaps even far more intelligent than my brothers in many ways. So for me, intelligence is too complicated for simple comparisons like this one.

Anonymous said...

For me, being gifted in school meant that I could ace any tests and classes without studying, whereas my friend who was smart but not gifted could get an A only after hours of studying. Everything about school seemed obvious and easy to me, and I had trouble understanding why my friends didn't get it like I did.

So yes, I think there's a difference in the manner of learning. But I can't explain it. ;) I probably could have gotten away with skipping a grade or two with no difficulties, but I don't think my smart friends who needed to study could have done that easily.

IguanaTom said...

I like the explanation of what gifted really means in this link. http://www.bertiekingore.com/high-gt-create.htm

In my head I have it broken down as in a battery of abilities. If a person is uniformly high across the board, that's intelligence. When they have a lot more spikes in those abilities, that's the giftedness. I also closely associate gifted and talented with talents being more physical and gifts more mental. I think the emotional intensity associated with giftedness is also more understood when I view the peeks as well.

The other side of the coin is looking at LDs as the valleys. I think you can be very intelligent and be LD or gifted, or even both. 2e is whole other discussion, but at least I hope that helps explain how I view it.

hope it helps said...

My giftedness is having extremely heightened senses of observation through what I see, smell, hear, touch and taste. (I take in everything even what is unpleasant and what I don't want to. Gifted persons have strong likes and dislikes. They usually have very specific dietary preferences.) Then, my brain processes the input instantly, but will also give me additional feedback after processing over time (at the 12 hour mark, 24 hours, etc.). The more complex the matter, the longer it takes for the results to occur to me in a realization or an AHA! moment. Usually, I am done thinking about the complex question within 48 hours and then I am on to another topic or issue, whatever is the next priority. It is as if the brain is a computer that works consistently well for long extended periods of time as long as I take good care of it. I never do anything to intentionally diminsh it, but if I realize something bad, then I may lose sleep over it (because gifted people have a strong sense of justice and honesty, etc.), but I try not to lose sleep, because that doesn't help anyway. There is also the ability to use both sides of the brain which you can see from the use of your left and right hand, whereas most people have a tendency for one hand or the other. I always have a question that no one thought of and I always have a view that is different from what other people are thinking about at that moment. As far as living with an intelligent spouse who may not have as high as an IQ on paper (if any of those numbers can ever be considered 'exact' especially since the people who assign them are likely not gifted because gifted people seem to be rare), my spouse is very intelligent and would not be able to live with me and our gifted child if he weren't. We discuss everything in such level of detail that the average person would never feel comfortable with or want. The gifted person makes very few mistakes in their work and can usually be counted on to give the correct answer. There are great lists of the qualities and characteristics of the gifted on the internet. The trouble is that these persons are dispersed throughout the globe. It is hard to find them all in one community in person for socializing (even in groups that are supposed to be for the gifted) so you just have to understand yourself. There seem to be many very smart people with touches or hints of their possible gift, but not that many globally gifted and highly sensitive people. The sensitivity can be a very painful experience because the Earth is full of insensitive persons, so humor is very important and gifted people laugh extremely loud. It is a wonderful stress release for a brain that works so hard. Also, dreams are like movies in the creative mind and there are themes in the dreams from the worries of the day's events. The gifted person in my experience scores in the 99% for all subjects in the years before college and has an equally solid math and verbal score on the SATs in the USA.

Heather Hanlin said...

Wow, a lot of good ideas to process in these comments. I don't think being gifted is about processing speed though. It is about quality, quantity, and complexity of processing--which may happen faster or slower. Smart hits this processing on certain culturally agreed upon marks, whereas gifted is all over the map.

mudgrl said...

I agree with Iguanatom in that it seems to me that smart is both quick and gifted across the board, or at least in many areas. Gifted is a bit more focused to an area of brilliance .

Jen said...

My experience is that giftedness is not just processing speed, but also the instant perception of a multiplicity of solutions. Recent example: when my first-grader was given a word list to alphabetize for homework (what, where, when, why, and how), her solution was ahtw, eehrw, ehnw, how, and hwy.

IguanaTom said...

Jen, I absolutely LOVE that divergent thinking. :) It's most certainly NOT wrong, but I'd bet it's not what they were looking for.

Jen said...

I love it, too! Fortunately, she's got a great teacher who gets it and doesn't penalize her for novel responses.

lgm said...

Smart are happy with answering a question. They beam. The gifted don't. They see the grey areas, the what-ifs, the ramifications and ask more questions to refine the original question and decide oupon the best fit solution. They see the complexities in the world that the smart miss. They also are comfortable with nonlinear thinking.

Anonymous said...

IGM, you are right! I find our two highly gifted kids over-analyze questions, immediately seeing the grey where high-achieving, smart peers look for the rote, conditioned response. It is not about speed for us but instead giftedness is largely about making intellectual connections and asynchronous development, particularly social/emotional compared to intellect.

Anonymous said...

hey my names erik, I had to reply to this because im exactly like this in every way to the last detail. Im good at math naturally and have movie dreams with a plot as of it were a movie happening on theaters except from your perspective. Like a lucid dream. I always thought everybody was like that naturally but have been reading more on divergent thinking and being gifted. i was mindblown by all the information i processed in a short amount of time. I related to all the characteristics and traits of gifted people that i read from articles and books. It really changed my life.