P.O. BOX 1586







Dr. James Delisle -- Professor and Co-Director of SENG, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio

Dr. Jerry Flack --Univ. Of Colorado-Colorado Springs

Dr. Howard Gardner -- Professor, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Ms. Diane D. Grybek -- Supervisor of Secondary Gifted Programs (Retired), Hillsborough County Schools, Tampa, Florida

Ms. Dorothy Knopper -- Publisher, Open Space Communications, Boulder, Colorado

Mr. James LoGiudice -- Director, Program and Staff Development, Bucks County, Pennsylvania Intermediate Unit No. 22 and Past President of the Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education

Dr. Mary Meeker -- President of SOI Systems, Vida, Oregon

Dr. Adrienne O'Neill - Chief Education Officer, Timken Regional Campus, Canton, Ohio

Dr. Stephen Schroeder-Davis -- Coordinator of Gifted Programs, Elk River, Minnesota Schools and Past President of the Minnesota Council for the Gifted and Talented

Dr. Bruce Shore -- Professor and Director, Giftedness Centre, McGill University, Montreal, Canada

Ms. Joan Smutny -- Professor and Director, Center for Gifted, National-Louis University, Evanston, Illinois

Dr. Virgil S. Ward -- Emeritus Professor of Gifted Education, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia

Dr. Colleen Willard-Holt - Associate Professor, Penn State University, Harrisburg

Ms. Susan Winebrenner -- Consultant, Brooklyn, Michigan

Dr. Ellen Winner - Professor, Boston College

The Peruvian author and professor at Georgetown University, Mario Vargas Llosa, has written a wonderful article entitled, "Why Literature: The Premature Obituary of the Book," which appeared in The New Republic magazine. I highly recommend his provocative analysis of the importance of literature and books in modern Western society. Llosa states that reading literature helps to override specialization in different professions by providing individuals with similar reading experiences. He says, "Nothing teaches us better than literature to see, in ethnic and cultural differences, the richness of human patrimony, and to prize those differences as a manifestation of humanity's multi-faceted creativity. Reading good literature is an experience of pleasure, of course; but it is also an experience of learning what and how we are, in our human integrity and our human imperfection, with our actions, our dreams, and our ghosts, alone and in relationships that link us to others, in our public image and in the secret recesses of our consciousness." (The New Republic, May 14, 2001, p. 32).

Llosa also discusses another important function of literature: to transport individuals into an ideal world that can motivate them to improve their real world. In his view, the arguments presented by Bill Gates for eliminating books and replacing them with computer screens will not occur because the act of reading is an essential type of personal experience. Llosa is a writer of integrity who should be read by educators concerned with designing the best programs for the gifted. It is particularly gratifying to read this article because it supports my publishing goal (during the last twenty years) to emphasize humanities programs for gifted children.

We have a "full-house" of excellent articles in this issue of GEPQ, as follows:

(Click the article you want to go to.)

(1) study of test scores that measure specific abilities -- rather than the g factor -- to identify children for gifted programs (research study by Barbara Louis and Michael Lewis, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School);

(2) description of a training procedure for improving gifted students to reason in a flexible manner (Patti Hamilton, Seventh Dimension Thinking); and

(3) a counseling and education program that increases gifted children's understanding of the cognitive and social aspects of their giftedness (Kathleen Dent and Susan Craig, Hamilton Montana Schools).

In addition, the world-renowned cultural historian, Jacques Barzun, discusses some early experiences that influenced his intellectual development. In the concluding article, Michael Walters writes about certain cultural treasures and sites in Chicago that gifted children should investigate.

Maurice D. Fisher, Ph.D., Publisher

Effective Identification of Children for Gifted Education Programming

By Barbara Louis and Michael Lewis Institute for the Study of Child Development

Robert Wood Johnson Medical School New Brunswick, New Jersey

The 2-year-old boy climbed onto a chair in the food court and said, "Mommy, I like my hot dog with ketchupand mustard!" The 4-year-old suburban girl told her mother how to get to her rural friend's home, having been there only once. The 7-year-old leaned over to his mother during a Sunday church service and said, "How do we know they're not fakin' us?" Each of these children is obviously gifted. The 2-year-old's language is extremely advanced for his age. The 4-year-old has exceptional spatial skills and powers of observation. The 7-year-old has extremely advanced abstract reasoning abilities. Why would it be necessary to formally identify these children as gifted when their abilities are so obvious, and what is an effective means by which to do this?

Why is formal identification important?

As obvious as the giftedness of each of these children is to experts in the field, they might not be recognized as gifted either by their parents or their teachers; consequently, they are at risk for not receiving appropriate educational services. The outcome often is that gifted children languish in the classroom, and lose interest in the learning process, underachieve, and/or become behavior problems. This has far reaching implications for their current quality of life, as well as the remainder of their lives. One of the most common concerns of parents who bring their school aged children to the Gifted Child Clinic for evaluation is that their gifted children, who never have been challenged in school, have not formed any study habits. Because they never have had to work in elementary school to learn a new concept, they have not developed the strategies that they often find they need when they reach high school or college and finally face challenging course work.

Few people have equally strong skills in all areas. For gifted children and their parents, formal identification can serve to explain children's profiles of strengths and weaknesses. This can help parents and teachers understand why, for example, children are able to do certain things so well compared to others of the same age, while they are average, or even below average, in other areas.

Formal testing also serves as scientifically sound evidence of a child's cognitive ability. While parents actually are quite accurate in their judgements regarding their children's ability (Louis & Lewis, 1992), many people believe that "All parents think their children are gifted." This is true of teachers and school administrators, as well as lay persons. Combined with a valid measure of school achievement, a cognitive profile derived from an individually administered standardized intelligence test can validate parents' beliefs and aid in the creation of appropriate individualized education programs for their children. Hopefully, this will lead to instruction that challenges gifted children and encourages them to strive to reach their potential. An additional side benefit is that children will form effective study habits and experience the joy of accomplishment.

Finally, formal identification can serve to draw the attention of teachers and school administrators to the phenomenon of giftedness. Once this is accomplished and a true understanding of giftedness is reached, parents will no longer hear, "Don't worry. All children level off by 4th grade." It is critical for parents and educators to understand that giftedness must be nurtured, and that if children "level off," it is because they have lost either the ability or the will to exhibit their giftedness.

How can we effectively identify giftedness in children?

Any discussion of identification involves issues of definition. What do we mean by "gifted"? Gifted in what? There are as many types of giftedness as there are skills in the world. One can be a gifted cook, a gifted runner, a gifted leader, or a gifted physicist. Giftedness in each of these skills must be measured in a different way, and very different programs must be designed to foster giftedness in each of these areas.

When we discuss the education of gifted children, it is important to remain aware that what we measure must be relevant to children's educational success. When we design education based programs for gifted children, the definition of giftedness we use must be related to children's school performance. It also must be able to be operationalized in a valid and practical manner; that is, there must be reliable methods with which to identify the children who are in need of the special educational services.

While there are many types of giftedness, intellectual giftedness is related to school success, at least in one direction; that is, there is a high percentage of intellectually gifted children among the most successful students. However, this does not account for gifted underachievers, who score very well on tests of intelligence but are not successful students; or for populations of children who are not effectively identified using standardized intelligence tests but might be very good students within their peer group. Equipped with the knowledge that we never can identify every gifted child, how can we effectively and fairly identify as many as possible in order to help them succeed in school and lead happy, productive lives?

Theories of intelligence

Performance on tests of intelligence is related to academic competence, whether or not it is manifested in the classroom. The most common issue for gifted children is that their competence levels are beyond the level of instruction that is being taught in the classroom. Therefore, intellectual giftedness appears to be the most reasonable avenue to pursue in identifying those children who need gifted educational services.

There are several theories of intelligence, each of which is related to different theories of giftedness. The two main theories of intelligence are g theory and specific skills theories. A g theory of intelligence views intelligence as a single entity which is inborn, stable, and generalizable. The implication is that a gifted person is one who possesses an unusual degree of ability in all areas that are believed to constitute the single entity of intelligence. Specific skills theories, on the other hand, view intelligence as a set of underlying abilities that are independently measurable and that demonstrate little or no generalizability from one skill area to another. In this case, a person can be gifted in any one or more of these areas.

Within a g theory of intelligence, in order to qualify for gifted services children are required to obtain an overall IQ score at or above a preset cut-off on a standardized intelligence measure such as the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale: Fourth Edition (SB-IV; Thorndike, Hagen, & Sattler, 1986) or the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children - Third Edition (WISC-III; Wechsler, 1991). In order to obtain an overall score at this level, these children have high ability in all or most areas measured by the tests. Many school systems use this method for admission to their programs, and it effectively results in a pool of gifted children. However, many children are eliminated who are in need of gifted services because their advanced abilities lie in more restricted areas of intelligence.

Within a specific skills approach, children who are gifted in individual skill areas can be identified. If the area or areas in which they are gifted are related to school performance, they also are at risk for inappropriate placement in regular classroom instruction. Children who are gifted in individual skill areas also can be identified through standardized measures such as the SB-IV or the WISC-III; however, a skills analysis must be done rather than only looking at the Full Scale IQ score. At the very least, ability in verbal skills and spatial skills must be taken into account separately.

What is the most effective approach to the identification of gifted children for the purpose of appropriate educational programming?

We have been evaluating preschool children for possible giftedness at the Gifted Child Clinic for nearly 20 years. Several years ago we expanded our services to include elementary school aged children. Through our work with these children, we have found that the most valid approach to both intelligence and intellectual giftedness is a specific skills approach.

Our preferred measure of intellectual functioning among school aged children is the WISC-III. This provides us with a measure of overall intellectual functioning (Full Scale IQ), as well as measures of functioning in the specific skill areas of verbal abilities (Verbal IQ) and spatial abilities (Performance IQ). Most parents bring their elementary school aged children to the Gifted Child Clinic because of school related concerns; therefore, we also administer the Peabody Individual Achievement Test - Revised (PIAT-R; Markwardt, 1989) as a measure of school achievement. The PIAT-R provides age and grade level comparisons and equivalents in General Information, Reading Recognition, Reading Comprehension, Total Reading (an overall Reading score), Mathematics, and Spelling. It also provides a Total Test score, which is an overall measure of academic achievement based upon all 5 subtests. Our current sample includes 130 children who were given both the WISC-III and the PIAT-R. Their ages range from 6 years 0 months to 13 years 1 month, with a mean age of 7 years 11 months.

Using a g theory approach to intelligence and giftedness, those children whose WISC-III Full Scale IQs are in the gifted range (IQ = 130 or above, 98th percentile) are considered gifted. This includes 73 of the 130 children tested, or 56%. The PIAT-R is scored on the same scale as the WISC-III, and children in the 98th percentile are considered to have scored in the gifted range. As an example, a child at the beginning of 3rd grade who scores in the 98th percentile on the Total Test score of the PIAT-R has an overall school achievement level of at least 5th grade 3rd month. Eighty-six of the 130 children tested (66%) scored in the gifted range on the overall measure of school achievement (PIAT-R Total Test). This included 90% of the gifted children (66 out of 73) and 35% (20 out of 57) of the children whose WISC-III Full Scale IQs were below the gifted range.






















Table 1. Number and percent of children who are gifted and nongifted on the WISC-III Full Scale IQ (FSIQ) and PIAT-R.

Table 1 shows that the agreement between the WISC-III and the PIAT-R is high, with 51% of the total sample testing gifted on both, 28% nongifted on both, and 20% gifted on one but not the other. Using a g formulation, the 20 children who were gifted on the PIAT-R but not on the WISC-III would not be referred for gifted services.

Using a specific skills approach to giftedness, there are any number of skills we can look at; however, in the interest of efficiency, we at least look at verbal and spatial skills separately. Using the three IQ scores obtained from the WISC-III, there are four possible IQ score profiles: 1) a Verbal IQ in the gifted range but not a gifted Full Scale, 2) a Performance IQ in the gifted range but not a gifted Full Scale IQ, 3) a Full Scale IQ in the gifted range (which usually, but not always, entails either a gifted Verbal IQ or Performance IQ, or both), and 4) neither a Verbal IQ, Performance IQ, nor Full Scale IQ in the gifted range. When we include with the children whose Full Scale IQ was 130 or above, those children whose Verbal IQ or Performance IQ alone was 130 or above, we identify a total of 92 gifted children, or 71% of our total sample. Seventy-nine of these 92 children, or 86%, scored in the gifted range on the PIAT-R. This compares with the 66 children with only a Full Scale IQ in the gifted range who also were gifted on the PIAT-R.


























Table 2. Number and percent of children who are nongifted on the WISC-III FSIQ, and who are gifted on the WISC-III Verbal IQ (VIQ), WISC-III Performance IQ (PIQ), or nongifted on the WISC-III, and gifted or nongifted on the PIAT-R.

Table 2 presents the skills profiles of the 57 children who were not gifted on the WISC-III FSIQ. This includes the 20 children who were gifted on the PIAT-R but not on the FSIQ, 12 of whom are gifted on the VIQ and 1 who is gifted on the PIQ. As can be seen from this table, if the criterion for giftedness is a score in the gifted range on any one of the WISC-III IQ scales, then there are 13 additional children who are gifted on the WISC-III and on the PIAT-R. When these children are added to the 66 children who were gifted on the FSIQ and the PIAT-R, then 61% of the sample (66+13=79) is gifted on both measures.

This still leaves 7 children who are gifted on the PIAT-R but not on the WISC-III. This is a well above average group of children, with a mean Full Scale IQ of 120, Verbal IQ of 123, and Performance IQ of 112. Each child scored at or above 120 on at least one of the IQ scales. If the PIAT-R is used as an outcome measure for academic giftedness, then it certainly also should be used as a criterion measure for identification.

Thus, we could construct a specific skills approach that used as the criterion for giftedness a score in the gifted range on either the WISC-III Full Scale IQ, WISC-III Verbal IQ, WISC-III Performance IQ, or PIAT-R Total Test. This would include 13 children who scored in the gifted range on at least one of the WISC-III IQ scales but not on the PIAT-R and 7 who scored in the gifted range on the PIAT-R and not on one of the IQ scores. This would result in the referral of 99 children, or 76% of our sample, for gifted educational programming.

These data show that an evaluation for gifted programming that takes a skill versus g approach allows us to look at specific gifted abilities and thus increase the effectiveness of our identification procedure. Because g theory severely restricts the definition of giftedness, it severely restricts the number of children identified and referred for gifted educational services. When specific skills are taken into account, we see that many children who do not score in the gifted range on the Full Scale IQ in fact are gifted in skill areas that relate to academic ability. Thus, a skills approach results in an increased likelihood of being able to provide more children with needed educational services. It also increases the diversity of the participants in our gifted programs.

One final note of interest bears discussion as it relates to the identification process. The Gifted Child Clinic operates on a referral basis, and the majority of the time it is parents who refer their children. Using a specific skills approach, 71% of our total sample scored in the gifted range (IQ = 130 or above) on either the Full Scale IQ, Verbal IQ, or Performance IQ. Eighty-nine percent of these gifted children obtained Verbal IQ scores in the gifted range, indicating gifted verbal abilities. This is compared with only 9% of the gifted children who obtained Performance IQ scores in the gifted range but whose Verbal IQ scores were below the gifted range, indicating gifted spatial abilities in the absence of gifted verbal abilities. (Note that 2 children obtained Full Scale IQ scores in the gifted range, with both Verbal IQ and Performance IQ scores just below the gifted range.) Also of interest is the level of intellectual functioning of the children who did not test in the gifted range. Of the 29% who did not test in the gifted range on the Verbal IQ, Performance IQ, or Full Scale IQ, the mean Verbal IQ was 117, the mean Performance IQ was 109, and the mean Full Scale IQ was 115. This indicates an above average level of functioning in the area of verbal skills, even for the nongifted children.

These results are consistent with a study that we conducted several years ago in which we analyzed the specific skills of preschool children that led their parents to believe they were gifted (Louis & Lewis, 1992). Our findings in the current study indicate that parents are very good judges of giftedness in their children. In the 1992 study, 61% of the preschool children brought to the Gifted Child Clinic obtained overall IQ scores in the gifted range. Of particular interest from a specific skill perspective, however, was parents' responses to a question regarding their beliefs about giftedness in specific skill areas. In this preschool sample, verbal ability was mentioned more often by parents as being indicative of giftedness in their children than any other skill, with 61% of parents reporting advanced expressive language skills.

In the current study, verbal abilities continue to be the basis for giftedness as children enter and participate in elementary school.There are two possible explanations for this phenomenon. The first is that parents continue to be consciously aware of their children's advanced verbal abilities. They see advancement in this area as an indication of giftedness that then manifests itself in advanced school achievement levels and results in inappropriate instructional placement. The second possibility is that parents are aware of their children's inappropriate instructional placement in the classroom and perceive this as indicative of giftedness. The relation between gifted school achievement and gifted verbal abilities then is manifested in the results of the intelligence measures. In either case, it appears that verbal abilities are a very important aspect of giftedness as it relates to educational competency.


These data illustrate several important aspects that need to be considered when identifying children for gifted education programs. First, a g theory approach to intellectual giftedness is not a sufficient basis for identifying gifted children with very high levels of school achievement. Verbal skills are highly related to children's academic competence and, in fact, may be the driving force behind the relation between intellectual giftedness and extremely advanced school achievement. When Full Scale IQ, Verbal IQ, and Performance IQ were taken into account in identifying intellectual giftedness, 86% of our gifted children also were gifted on the school achievement measure.

Reciprocally, using this specific skills approach to giftedness, 92% of the children who showed gifted school achievement were identified with the WISC-III. Expanding the criteria to include the PIAT-R as a measure of academic giftedness resulted in 76% of the total sample being identified as gifted. Second, intellectual giftedness is highly related to academic competence, whether or not that competence is apparent in classroom performance. This comes as no surprise, given Alfred Binet's original development and use of IQ as an instrument by which to identify children who were candidates for special education. Third, the traditional definition of intellectual giftedness as performance in the 98th percentile on an overall measure of intelligence is too limited a construct to use in the identification of nontraditional children whose academic competence places them well beyond the level of instruction that is being offered in the classroom. A skills approach is more inclusive, and it will lead to greater diversity in gifted programs. Finally, most school districts do not have the funding necessary to individually evaluate every child for potential giftedness. We know that classroom performance is not a reliable screening for gifted children; however, parent nomination, while not foolproof, is a factor to be considered seriously in the screening process.


Louis, B., & Lewis, M. (1992). Parental beliefs about giftedness in young children and their relation to actual ability level. Gifted Child Quarterly, 36(1), 27-31.

Markwardt, F.C. (1989). Manual for the Peabody Individual Achievement Test - Revised. Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service.

Thorndike, R.L., Hagen, E.P., & Sattler, J.M. (1986). Manual for the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale: Fourth Edition. Chicago: The Riverside Publishing Company.

Wechsler, D. (1991). Manual for the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children - Third Edition. New York: The Psychological Corporation.

How 3D Thinking Can Enrich Gifted Education

By Patti J. Hamilton, Ph.D. Seventh Dimension Thinking Sarasota, Florida

What is 3d (holographic) thinking?

Are you able to see a difference between a photograph and a holograph? Between a plane circle and a sphere? It is precisely this difference — the addition of a dimension in the complexity of information — that can help us to appreciate the higher-order processes of the gifted and talented. 3d (holographic) imaging sets the stage, by analogy, for the development of higher-order thinking and learning.

"Some of the most crucial steps in mental growth are based not simply on acquiring new skills, but on acquiring new administrative ways to use what one already knows (Minsky, 1986)." One new administrative way to use what we already know is to add dimension to our thinking by incorporating multiple perspectives.

Metaphorically speaking, the difference between a three-dimensional holographic image and a two-dimensional photographic image is the seeing of multiple angles at once. A photographic film records only one angle of light reflection; a hologram is made by using mirrors to record several angles of light cast on an object, and thus to record more than one perspective. The difference in effect is similar to the difference between mono, stereo, and surround sound — and it is easily detectable by average human senses. We perceive this effect of heightened complexity as delivering more "realistic" information.

Various principles for organizing information, also known as gestalts, have been under investigation since the earliest days of psychological research. In the past, these perceptual-organizing tendencies were assumed to be hardwired into our brain's functioning. Today's researchers, however, are demonstrating the plastic nature of the brain and the interactive nature of perception, cognition, and learning. As higher orders of thinking are learned, even higher orders become potential. High-level organizing powers and complex perceptual organizations are perhaps common already to the thinking styles of the gifted.

Why do educators for the gifted especially need 3d thinking?

To catalyze the development of our best minds, we must be well versed in and comfortable using the same higher-order tricks of mental management used by geniuses:

"It's not enough to learn a lot; one also has to manage what one learns. [Creative geniuses] have, beneath the surface of their mastery, some special knacks of ‘higher-order' expertise, which help them organize and apply the things they learn. It is those hidden tricks of mental management that produce the systems that create works of genius. . . . Some better ways to learn may lead to better ways to learn to learn. Then, later, we'll observe an awesome, qualitative change, with no apparent cause — and give it some empty name like talent, aptitude, or gift." (Minsky, 1986).

One aspect of giftedness is this higher-order management of knowledge. In a description of a gifted little girl named Anna, we can see one example of higher-order mental management that uses the "hidden trick" of analogy:

"She had this capacity for taking a statement of fact in one subject, teasing it until she discovered its pattern, then looking around for a similar pattern in another subject. Anna had a high regard for facts, yet the importance of a fact did not lie in its uniqueness but in its ability to do service in diverse subjects." (Fynn, 1976).

Another hidden trick of genius is that of dimensionality (as in a problem cannot be solved on the same level it was created).

One way to use 3d thinking in curriculum development and class activities

One way to use 3d thinking in gifted education is through a teaching model that I call Simultaneous Multiple Perspectives. Its core structure, which can be used for presenting any complex subject, is as follows:

Simultaneous Multiple Perspectives


The achievement of a detailed understanding of a person, a situation, a question, or an issue — as multidimensional and multifaceted rather than flatly "either/or."

The Simultaneous Multiple Perspectives procedure is a learned gestalt that delays conclusions and judgments until more information from more perspectives is taken into account. The knower's task is to include multiple mirrors (perspectives) and to perceive each perspective at "face value."


To see more aspects of things at once.
To expand and enrich one's point of view.
To deepen understanding through a higher order of complexity.
To develop a higher-level thinking skill.


Display of actual holograms, if possible: postcards, key rings, etc.
Illustrations comparing how holograms and photographs are made and reconstructed.
Figure: Simultaneous Multiple Perspectives illustration (described in the following procedure).


1. Draw 3 symbols (e.g., a stick figure for a person, an exclamation mark for an opinion, a question mark for an unknown). Encompass each symbol by a horseshoe-shaped semicircle made up of dashed lines. The symbol in the center represents the subject for further study or discussion.
2. In regard to the dashed lines, name them with several of the angles, perspectives, or mirrors of reflection that one might use to view this "thing in the center." For example, in explaining a human's behavior, various perspectives might include the influences of instincts, conditioned learning, imitation, culture, and heredity. Or use the dozens of social theories on what causes racism, war, political affiliation, or religious differences. Or the various viewpoints surrounding the issue of abortion. Or the interdisciplinary approach to research (e.g., as in educational science, which might draw on contributions across fields of brain science, communications, learning psychology, economics, technology, and so on).
3. Assume that all angles have useful information to contribute toward the unique perspective of each observer.
4. Without needing to "move" to another perspective, the observer must still acknowledge other angles or viewpoints.
5. Experiment with other uses of the framework for deepening understanding and broadening perspective:

Use as a tool for conflict resolution.

Interpret an attitude as a commitment to standing in one place, to taking one perspective.

"Stage" a 3d representation: the person, situation, or subject of discussion is in the center. "Possibilities" stand in an arch and offer their characteristic viewpoints. The "observer" can converse with any of the perspectives.

Some psychological responses to instruction in 3d (holographic) thinking

Cognitive development beyond Piaget's stages and beyond Bloom's taxonomy of higher-order thinking skills is often described in terms of Perry's Scheme (Perry, 1970). Higher levels of thought proceed initially from the:

dualistic, or "one view is ultimately right," to the
multiplistic, "all viewpoints are equally valid but separate and everyone must choose one for themselves," and eventually, to the
relativistic, "what is true depends on where one stands."

The learned gestalt of Simultaneous Multiple Perspectives induces experiences of the highest order of thinking in Perry's Scheme — namely, an immediate and direct access to relativity: of thought, of meaning, and of perspective.

Analysis of two students' responses illustrates the developmental power of this procedure:

#1) "Each will see a different aspect depending on their angle of view. . . Even if two people do look at something from the same place, what their mood is at the time would have an effect on what they are looking for and what they feel toward what they see. Level of interest in what someone is looking at also is the major fact determining what they see. A person that is not interested might not see much because they didn't look close. The person that was interested analyzed the object and considered all the features of what they see."

This student was aware not only of the relativity of perspective ("different aspects seen depend on different angles of view"), but also of variations in resolution within a perspective. He has hypothesized that mood, expectations, and level of interest will affect what one attends to and in how much detail or degree of resolution.

#2) "The multi-faceted dimension is what makes [this] fascinating and the physical method of observing cements the image to the mind. . . . A hologram is a conflict to resolve: your mind insists it is three dimensional yet your physical sense of touch tells you it is not. This conflict is a part of the power of imprinting the image to the mind. (With simultaneous multiple perspectives). I am also enabled to view others viewing the object. . . . I am in a position to see why they see the certain perspective even if I can't see it from where I stand. . . . ‘I now see why you see what you see because I see you see it.' . . . I saw a pattern of teaching by how the viewer participated with the medium, and this was a pattern I had not seen before I began the reflection. The discovery was exciting. . . . it seemed like a fun game. . . . like putting a puzzle together using thoughts for the pieces."

This student was aware of metaperspective ("I am also enabled to view others viewing the object"). She was also aware of the relativity of perspective ("I am in a position to see why they see the certain perspective even if I can't see it from where I stand"). Patterns she had not seen before the reflection emerged during the reflection, and she became aware of the mental shift involved between two-dimensional and three-dimensional perception ("your mind insists it is three dimensional yet your physical sense of touch tells you it is not").

Both of these students were able to discuss perspective in ways that demonstrate development beyond duality in Perry's scheme, at least temporarily. Both seemed aware of the relative nature of one's viewpoint and discussed differences in viewpoint without reference to truth value or superiority of position. Both seemed to perceive multi-dimensionality and to be able to discuss that perception.

One student referred indirectly to the idea of differences in resolution: this procedure seemed to give him insight into how differences within the same vantage point might come into being. The other student became aware that perspective is relative to one's vantage point. In addition, she experienced the "aha" of personal production of knowledge and discovered a pattern she had not seen before. Although this does not suggest that the students' overall styles of thinking had changed, it does appear useful for accessing at will the higher levels of thinking involved in advanced learning, including relativity of perspective, 3d thinking, and higher-order mental management. As a perceptual template, it is practical and easily applied due to its nature of being visually concrete and repeatable.


In an age of information technology, education and business leaders are realizing the value of higher-level thinking such as 3d thinking, systems thinking, analogical thinking, and skill with complexity. Average thinkers are 2d thinkers. 3d thinkers are able to process more quickly, accurately, and in depth. In essence, the human mind is capable of storing more complex information through the use of 3d thinking.

We can enrich gifted education by learning and teaching directly the higher-order tricks of mental management. Use 3d thinking:

to develop gifted curriculum
to organize classroom activities
to present complex issues

References and Related Reading

Fynn, A. (1976). Mister God, this is Anna. New York: Ballantine Books.

Goldstone, R. L. (1998). Perceptual learning. Annual Review of Psychology. 49(1998), 585-612.

Hamilton, P. J. (1999a). Perceptual learning & lifelong Montessori. Montessori Life. 11(4), 41-42.

Hamilton, P. J. (1999b). Reinventing the real: A training handbook for creativity, and Between two worlds: A research essay on the mind of innovation. [CD-Rom]. WWW:

Minsky, M. (1986). The society of mind. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Perry, W. (1970). Forms of intellectual and ethical develop-
ment in the college years
. New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston.

Pribram, K. H. (1991). Brain and perception: Holonomy and structure in figural processing. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.


Author – Contact information

Patti J. Hamilton, Ph.D.

7th Dimension Thinking – psychoeducational services for transformative learning

6380 Jarvis Road, Sarasota, FL 34241-5611
Phone: 941/342-7936; Fax: 941/342-6003

The full model curriculum for higher-order thinking includes creative thinking, visual thinking, and complex-systems thinking. It consists of 4 levels of mental training:

increasing awareness
destablizing assumptions and mental frameworks
trying out new frameworks
detecting emergent frameworks

(Simultaneous Multiple Perspectives is an example of the 3rd level.)

More than Just Intellect: Qualities of Personal Power to Gifted Students

By Kathleen Dent and Susan Craig Hamilton, Montana

Take Five: 5 Traits of Competent Kids is a program that reflects our own personal philosophy. It encompasses the hope and faith we have for our gifted children. Using this program, students will come to view themselves as more than just intellect. They will embrace their own complexity and experience the joy associated with completing a challenging task in a creative way. Through the attributes of courage and caring, they will envision themselves as participants in positive solutions to everyday problems. This program starts young students on a life long journey of self renewal and awareness and presents an optimistic view of the future.

Take Five was conceived in Hamilton, Montana where approximately 130 identified students are part of a district-wide gifted program. Potential students for the program are referred by parents and teachers for evaluation. The multifaceted identification process includes achievement level testing; cognitive testing; teacher ratings and reports; and parent observations and reports. The identified gifted students participate in a variety of program options including school-wide enrichment activities and pull-out classes. The gifted students spend most of their school day in a regular classroom.

In order to address social and emotional needs of identified gifted students, Susan Craig, the school counselor, and I teamed up to facilitate a small group for fifth and sixth grade gifted students. I am the gifted coordinator for the students in grades kindergarten through eighth grade.

The students responded well to our initial attempts at listening to their concerns and offering some techniques to counter stresses that go along with their abilities. However, we weren't satisfied and felt our methods could be improved. In studying programs, there didn't seem to be anything available to help us set up a group. Hoping to find solutions, we attended the spring Montana AGATE 2000 Conference (Association for Gifted and Talented Education). Here, we heard a presentation by James Webb, founder of SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of Gifted).

In Webb's presentation, "Cultivating Courage, Creativity, and Caring" (2000), he reviewed the triad model developed by Joseph Renzulli (1981) that has been helpful in identifying components of giftedness. These components represent clusters of traits which are grouped into three categories - above average ability, creativity, and task commitment. According to Renzulli's Three Ring Conception of Giftedness, a person would be considered gifted when all three clusters of traits are present at the same time to a large degree. It is useful to briefly describe the qualities represented by Renzulli's model even though the current literature has covered this area thoroughly.

Above Average Ability

In the school environment, it has been common for teachers to identify gifted students as those who scored on the 95th+ percentile on standardized tests, have straight A's, or have an I.Q. of 130 or higher. Researchers are finding that high accomplishment is not necessarily the function of measured intelligence. These test scores can only be used to screen out the students who score in the lower range. Test scores may serve as an indicator of potential and above average ability but do not guarantee accomplishment as a student or as an adult.


Creativity suggests divergent and unique thinking, and the ability to develop new ideas and approaches to problems. Webb ( 2000) views creativity as more of a process of thinking or approaching tasks rather than a product, and believes that by focusing on the process we can help cultivate creativity in individuals.

Task Commitment

This third cluster of traits is found in creative and productive people who demonstrate a focused manner of accomplishing tasks. They have the ability to chart a course and to follow it to goal completion. It describes a certain energy directed toward a project or goal. Renzulli (1981) describes these traits as the "Yeast that activates the manifestation of creative productivity." Researchers often describe this as hard work, dedicated practice and the intense energy gifted people can display in order to produce a desired result.

Webb proposed that there are two additional clusters of traits that are important when we consider the social and emotional well-being and development of gifted students. He believes that courage and caring can be cultivated in our gifted students. He challenges us as educators to promote them in gifted children. (Webb, 2000).

It is important to describe in more detail the additional traits offered by Webb. We do not suggest these circles serve as an identification model but rather as a framework through which any gifted person could gain social and emotional insight as well as learn skills needed to reach their potential.


Courage is needed by highly capable and creative people in order to present their ideas and abilities to society when they know their thoughts, approaches, works of art or performances may be different. Strength is required to stand behind an idea that may go against popular thought and risks associated with following a different direction. It is difficult to make decisions that waver from accepted procedure. Renzulli (1999) states that one of the purposes of gifted education "is to increase society's reservoir of persons who will help to solve the problems of contemporary civilization by becoming producers of knowledge and art rather than mere consumers of existing form." Students must learn at an early age to stretch outside of their normal comfort area and risk being different from peers. Students must not deny their most precious gift to society -- the gift of seeing the world through their own eyes and exploring their own thoughts.


It is evident that productive and creative works of scientists, artists, philosophers, authors, scholars, engineers and leaders in every area of society provide benefits to all of society. Students can learn social skills and the ability to observe their own behavior and the positive or negative effect it may have on others. These skills start at home, in the classroom, and on the playground. As students mature, they begin to understand the cause and effect of human behavior and how it can serve society's needs in a positive way. There are people who display all the four traits -- above average ability, creativity, task commitment and courage. However, caring is missing. Webb uses the example of the computer "hackers" who are destroying business on the INTERNET and causing chaos worldwide. These people are definitely bright, creative, task committed and courageous, but the element of caring is missing in a destructive way. When a person activates all five of these clusters of traits they find themselves in a powerful position to create and offer something unique to society.(Webb, 2000).

Developing the Group Design

After hearing Webb's ideas, we discussed the possibility of using them as a framework for developing a comprehensive, research-based group design. This was the "Ah-Hah" moment for both of us. Our overall goal was to communicate to gifted students the qualities inherit in successful, productive adults.

Using the five traits as a foundation, we have developed a nine session group design to introduce them. We refer to these traits as the Qualities of Personal Power. Through this program, students learn what it means to have above average ability, to be committed to a task, to be creative, to use courage and to apply these qualities in a responsible and caring manner. Self-evaluation and goal setting activities enable them to begin their journey of self understanding. They become aware of some of their strengths and weaknesses and gain direction in skill building and self analysis.

The following is our basic group design. The simplicity of the design allows it to be adjusted to the developmental age of the students. Activities for each group theme need to be appropriate for the interests of those students participating. We have successfully used this design with identified 5th and 6th grade students but it could be adapted for all ages.

TAKE FIVE: Traits of Competent Kids

Session One: Introduction; Session Two: Above Average Ability; Session Three: Creativity; Session Four: Task Commitment; Session Five: Courage; Session Six: Caring; Session Seven: Guest Speaker; Session Eight: Self-Evaluation and Goal Setting; and Session Nine: Parent Meeting .

Implementing the Group Design

The introductory session focuses on the student's self understanding Students are given time to discuss their abilities and an opportunity to represent their strengths in visual-artistic form. Some of the students have represented their talents in pictures of soccer games, math problems, and abstract designs using colors with a key describing what each represents.

For the next five weeks, in a forty-five minute group format, students are introduced to one of the Qualities of Personal Power. Activities are designed to be as interactive as possible and the students are given time at the beginning and the end to discuss the topics in a round table fashion. For example, in the above average ability lesson, students are asked to discuss the joys and challenges associated with having above average ability in a regular classroom. One student shared how the teacher always asked him to help other students even when it meant interrupting his own work. Several other students agreed that this was also true in their classroom. The universality of the issues discussed brings the students closer together and serves to increase the trust level within the group. The students work in pairs to develop positive strategies for dealing with common difficulties. They practice the strategies during the following week, and the first few minutes in the next group meeting are spent sharing experiences related to the previous lesson.

These lessons allow students to realize that adults are truly listening to their concerns and are working on their behalf. They have appreciated our involvement in helping them find solutions. Through our discussions with the classroom teachers about the group, we have been able to approach the teachers in a general way with some suggestions to compact or differentiate their instruction.

Gifted students also learn that they can be their own advocates for their needs in the classroom. An example of self advocacy came when, after the lesson on courage, one very quiet student asked his teacher to accompany him to the library. He pointed out several books he would like to read about China instead of the novel the class was reading that was below his level. The teacher was open and grateful for the student's input.

Guest Speaker

One of the most powerful and important components of the program provides an opportunity for students to connect with adults who are productive, positive members of society. After discussing and practicing the Qualities of Personal Power, Susan and I arrange to have the students visit with a member of our community who has exhibited those traits in their life. Gifted students learn from studying the lives of gifted people, both contemporary and historical, who show the Qualities of Personal Power in their lives. Every community has people who exhibit these qualities. Having the guest visit the students in person gives them an opportunity to ask questions and experience the uniqueness of the individual guest speaker.

Before the students meet with the speaker, it is important to spend time with the guest acquainting him/her with the concepts taught in the group. We explain to the speaker the goals of the program and the definition of the five traits. We ask them to relate experiences in their lives that exemplify the Qualities of Personal Power and how they helped to shape their lives.

We point out to the students that these successful people are working all through our community in many different areas -- medical, legal, education, performing arts and other arenas. Most are not world famous, but they are making an important contribution to our community in a caring way. Two of the guests we have invited were an internationally known researcher that discovered the bacterium that causes Lyme disease and a world renowned artist/historian.

The scientist shared his experience in Swiss schools, when as a 10 year old, he was told not to plan on being on the university track as his test grades were too low. He found his personal courage and persisted and earned a Ph.D. Also, he shared how courage had been the most important quality for him to achieve success because, with each career decision he made, he had to choose the way that was less certain. The students were also amazed at his task commitment and creativity.

The artist/historian is self taught and explained how he wished he had stayed in school so he could have learned his skills more easily. The students visited him in his home where he shared his collection of artifacts and explained the painstaking way he prepared to reenact Custer's Last Stand so that he could paint the scenes with as much authenticity as possible. His message was that because these students have above average abilities, they have a responsibility to contribute in a positive way. His examples of task commitment were inspiring. One student wrote in her evaluation of his presentation, "I will take these lessons with me the rest of my life."

Goal Setting

The week following the guest speaker is a time for self reflection and goal setting. After studying the Qualities of Personal Power and seeing them exemplified in a community member, students are asked to assess where they are in each of the five areas at the present time. After a brief discussion, they are then asked to write one realistic goal in each area they can work on during the school year. These goals are copied and kept in their gifted education portfolio. The students' copies are added to their individual folder to be shared at the parent meeting.

Parent Meeting

Parents are invited to the final session. Our first parent meeting for our new program was the last week of school. We sat in an empty room with cookies and punch wondering if anyone would show up. Parents and students trickled in slowly. Just as we began the meeting, one of the boys, in a muddy baseball uniform, came in with his parents in tow. The students began to explain the program and we did a few of the activities together. They sat with their parents munching cookies and talking about their goals. The baseball player's parents came up to us and said, "He was in the third inning of his game and he came over and said that we had to come to this meeting because he wanted to share his goals with us. We had no idea this was so important to him. We had to leave in the middle of the game. This is great!"

Looking Ahead

It was refreshing to walk down the halls of our school this fall and have the students that participated in the group last spring walk up and ask, "Hey, when are we going to start that group again? That was fun!" We've had students pleading with us to organize another group. Parent responses have also been encouraging. They hope we will continue the program for another year.

Students who have completed the first level of the program are now ready to delve deeper into the practical application of the five circles to their lives. We are currently extending the curriculum to meet that need.

We have presented our ideas for group implementation at a Gifted Institute and a conference for counselors. We have a list of professionals throughout Montana that are awaiting the publication of this program and are enthusiastic about implementing it this spring.

Using this basic group design to present important qualities that promote accomplishment, we have written a complete lesson plan and design to implement these ideas with gifted students in grades 5-8. This program is described in depth in our book, Take Five: 5 Traits of Competent Kids (2001), which provides everything a group leader needs to facilitate the program. The groups can be led by a counselor or a teacher. We find the combination of the gifted coordinator and the counselor as co-facilitators to be very effective but we realize this is not realistic for many school districts. The design is simple and easily followed and there is no additional training necessary to implement the program. The introduction includes a description of Joseph Renzulli's model and the additional ideas of James Webb. Take Five is a publication of Dandy Lion Publications.

Through this program, gifted students learn skills to be more efficient at task completion. They begin to enjoy creative moments and feel proud of their abilities. They apply their skills in a courageous and caring manner. They enjoy the fellowship of other students like themselves and relax in the company of those who appreciate their unique view of the world. It is our hope that our children will gain through this experience the confidence and knowledge to positively impact their future.


Brigman, Greg, and Barbara Earley. (1991). Group Counseling for School Counselors. Portland: J.Weston Walch.

Chapman, Linda. "How to Dialogue with an Image". Presentation on Art Therapy with At-Risk Children. Missoula, MT. October 7-8, 1999.

Davis, Gary A. (1996). Teaching Values. Cross Plains: Westwood Publishing,.

Delisle, James, and Judy Galbraith. (1987). The Gifted Kids Survival Guide II. Minneapolis: Free Spirit Publishing Co.

Hipp, Earl.(1985). Fighting Invisible Tigers. Minneapolis: Free Spirit Publishing Co.

Kersey, Cynthia. (1998). Unstoppable. Naperville: Source-books, Inc.

Renzulli, J. S. (1999). "What is this thing called giftedness and how do we develop it? A twenty-five year perspective." Journal for the Education of the Gifted. 23 (1), 3-54.

Renzulli, J. S. (1981) The Revolving Door Identification Model. Mansfield Center: Creative Learning Press, Inc.

Schmitz, Connie C. and Judy Galbraith. (1985). Managing the Social and Emotional Needs of the Gifted. Minneapolis: Free Spirit Publishing.

Webb, James T., Elizabeth A. Meckstroth, and Stephanie S. Tolan. (1982). Guiding the Gifted Child. Scottsdale: Ohio Psychology Press.

Webb, James T. "Cultivating Courage, Creativity and Caring" as presented at the Montana AGATE Conference. Billings, MT: April 2000.


"Logical activity is not the whole of intelligence. One can be intelligent without being particularly logical. The main functions of intelligence, that of inventing solutions, and that of verifying them, do not necessarily involve one another; the first partakes of imagination, the second alone is properly logical. Demonstration, search for truth, is therefore the true function of logic."
Jean Piaget (Judgment and Reasoning in the Child, 1924)

What factors in your background have contributed to your giftedness as a major cultural historian? How?

I recently asked Professor Jacques Barzun this question to gain some understanding concerning the development of a great writer and educator. He has been a Professor of History, Dean of Faculties and Provost at Columbia University. His most recent book, From Dawn To Decadence (2000, HarperCollins), was published at the age of 92. He has published twelve previous books on topics concerned with art, music, literature and the intellectual condition of American and Western society. M. Fisher

"I think the answer to your question is: the lucky accident of being born to a family whose long tradition was intellectual and artistic, coupled with early education in a French lycée. As a small child I believed that making books or works of art was for adults the equivalent of play for children -- the only thing worth doing -- and when I was about eight, in the fourth grade, I wrote without any prompting a History of France some ten pages long; it went no farther than the point covered in class. I was playing adult well ahead of time. What the lycée provided in those years was a thorough grounding in reading, writing, history, and elementary math -- the basics that have been lost in all the schools of the Western world. My schooling before the great decline was another piece of good fortune, and I may say that I owe whatever I have done that has proved useful to a pair of circumstances not of my own making."

An Exhilarating Visit to Chicago by Michael E. Walters

Center for the Study of the Humanities in the Schools

Chicago is a splendid city to visit during the spring -- the weather is moderate and the air quality is fresh. This is the perfect time of the year to experience the varying cultural features of a city full of multicultural treats for everyone's esthetic palate. A weekend for gifted students in this city would be both exhilarating and stimulating. The first cultural treat is the architecture and how it is used for interaction with and enjoyment of the city. Modern American architecture was started here in the early part of the twentieth century by architects such as Louis Sullivan, the father of the modern industrial skyscraper, and his student, Frank Lloyd Wright, the genius of contemporary American architecture. The lakefront on Lake Michigan is used in both an esthetic and functional manner that is organic to the city itself. The area that runs along the lakefront, Lake Shore Drive, is one of the most pleasant public areas in the United States where a gifted student can easily grasp the interaction of architecture and nature, especially in the spring.

Wrigley Field, located in the heart of a residential neighborhood (Lincoln Park), is the essential professional baseball experience. This area is also the sight of one of the major zoological parks in the world, the Lincoln Park Zoo. Wrigley Field is not designed in the "corporate style" as are most contemporary baseball stadiums. At Wrigley there is a union between the players and their fans who are a part of the game in a unique way. There are residential buildings located right next to the ball park with bleachers on the rooftops. On the day I attended the game, I had an opportunity to witness one of the most gifted athletes at work -- the home run hitter, Sammy Sosa.

Chicago is a blend of musical experiences. Scattered throughout the city are bars, clubs and performance halls where one can encounter a variety of music – jazz, blues, folk and popular. This was the city that gave the world Benny Goodman and Gene Krupa, and hosted the careers of such Black musicians as King Oliver and Louis Armstrong. In addition, Chicago has one of the world's greatest symphony orchestras, the Chicago Symphony, and a major opera company, the Lyric Opera.

The Art Institute of Chicago is a major center for art in the United States, displaying one of the world's major collections of French impressionistic art. Also among its collections are American and Buddhist art, medieval armor and weaponry, and the stained glass windows completed by Marc Chagall when he was ninety years old. There is also a film school associated with the Art Institute named after the film critic, Gene Siskel, who died tragically at an early age.

Chicago's neighborhoods have produced a wealth of gifted writers. Carl Sandburg, Upton Sinclair, Theodore Dreiser, James T. Farrell, Meyer Levin, Nelson Algren, Saul Bellow and Studs Terkel have used the social settings of this city with such powerful effect. The African American community has produced such literary stars as Richard Wright, Willard Motley, and the recently departed poetess, Gwendolyn Brooks.

When my wife and I left Chicago, we had experienced a wide range of gifted encounters. However, the most enriching experience was to visit one of the luminaries of gifted education in America, Joan Smutny of National Louis University, who lives in a beautiful Victorian residence in Wilmette. She is dedicated to both her college students and her nationally renowned summer camp for gifted students. Our visit with Ms. Smutny was the icing on the cake of our tour of Chicago.


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