Educating our Most Rare: Understanding and Responding to the Needs of the Profoundly Gifted

The profoundly gifted comprise a small—seldom recognized and infrequently addressed— subgroup of humanity. Learners with measured IQ scores greater than 3 SD units above the mean -- the profoundly gifted -- are a statistical rarity in most educational /mental health settings. Most educators and mental health practitioners cannot identify and even minimally address their complex intellectual, social, and emotional needs. Many professionals are uncomfortable with the idiosyncrasies and range of capacity and extraordinary educational (and social-emotional) needs that are axiomatic to individuals in this populace. 

From B.F. Skinner, in Walden Two, we hear:
"A fourth-grade reader may be a sixth-grade mathematician. The grade is an administrative device which does violence to the nature of the developmental process."
The word "violence" is in no way hyperbolic. If a profoundly gifted learner is denied access to fitting educational opportunities (sometimes many grades ahead of their age-peers) there can be deleterious developmental injury. Profoundly gifted learners are primed to learn: at pace. They have intellectual depth and insight. They are voracious leaners and consummate creators.