What is Giftedness?

What is Giftedness?


J.Renzulli

People often ask me for a “short list” of the characteristics gifted children have which make identification easier. I believe that any student who possesses most or all of the following five characteristics if probably gifted.

  1. Learns new material faster, and at an earlier age, than age peers.
  2. Remembers what has been learned forever, making review unnecessary.
  3. Is able to deal with concepts that are too complex and abstract for age peers.
  4. Has a passionate interest in one or more topics, and would spend all available time learning more about that topic if he or she could.
  5. Does not need to watch the teacher to hear what is being said; can operate on multiple brain channels simultaneously and process more than one task at a time.

To be gifted, one does not have to possess all of these characteristics. However, when you observe students consistently exhibiting many of these behaviors, the possibility that they are gifted is very strong.

Characteristics of Gifted Children

  • Exceptional reasoning ability
  • Intellectual curiosity
  • Rapid learning rate
  • Facility with abstraction
  • Complex thought processes
  • Vivid imagination
  • Early moral concern
  • Passion for learning
  • Powers of concentration
  • Analytical thinking
  • Divergent thinking/creativity
  • Keen sense of justice
  • Capacity for reflection
  • Insightfulness
  • Need to understand
  • Need for mental stimulation
  • Perfectionism
  • Need for precision/logic
  • Excellent sense of humor
  • Sensitivity/empathy
  • Intensity
  • Perseverance
  • Acute self-awareness
  • Nonconformity
  • Questioning of rules/authority
  • Tendency toward introversion

Giftedness in Brief

by Susan Winebrenner, M.S., consultant and author