Education of the Intellectually Gifted

By Milton J. Gold | Go to book overview
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Chapter 8
Thinking

Thinking in its lower grades is comparable to paper money, and in its higher forms it is a kind of poetry.

-- Havelock Ellis

No task in the education of the gifted offers more promise than the teaching of thinking. A growing body of evidence supports the hypothesis that thinking can be taught, and a variety of materials is being developed to help the teacherin this function. Renewed research on the part of psychologists into thinking indicates the possibility that we are on the threshold of improved understanding of thought processes. Without in any way disparaging the role of information in the curriculum, there is substantial agreement among both the liberals and conservatives in educational theory that the teaching of thinking -- and its direction toward socially desirable goals -- is the main purpose of education. By definition the intellectually gifted are the most likely to make great gains in learning to think. Thus, an ultimate objective in educating the gifted, regardless of age level or subject, is the teaching of critical and creative thinking.

Psychologists with widely differing orientations are currently coming to grips with the phenomenon of cognition. The 1964 Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education summarizes efforts of behaviorists to build the concept of a mediating cognition that is interposed between stimulus and response, and of Gestaltists to refine their concept of cognition from their initial statement of insight. Both camps apparently accept some aspects of personality theory which focus on the integrative functions of the ego, motivation, and social influences.

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