Two major social concerns of recent years have placed in sharp focus the quality of school efforts to identify and develop the high potential of gifted students. One of these is the sharpened sense of challenge from the Soviet Union, arising primarily from its scientific success in atomic and space technology. The other is an awakened national conscience disturbed by the failure of an affluent society to root out poverty and ignorance. With respect to scientific competition with Russia, schools are asked whether they are discovering all students of intellectual promise and whether they are stimulating them to adequate performance. As regards underprivileged segments of the population, schools must answer whether they are identifying talent that is hidden by the effects of poverty, and whether schools are compensating through their programs for these effects.
The tasks of developing talent and providing opportunity for the disadvantaged are not new assignments for the schools. The urgency of present needs places new emphasis on these long-established functions. As never before, schools must look about them to define new requirements, to formulate new plans, and to set in motion new programs.
Since 1950, a wealth of reports has accumulated in areas such as creativity, motivation and achievement, guidance of the gifted, the potential of underprivileged groups, characteristics of the gifted, application of new teaching methods, and employment of new curricula in the schools. Much of this research is still fragmentary and suggestive rather than conclusive, or on too small a scale to warrant definitive conclusions. However, so much has been reported that it is time to try to relate theoretical research and demonstration of practices in actual situations to problems in education of the gifted. New problems are not solved by applying old formulae which were discarded because they did not work in the past. An enhanced education of the gifted depends upon fresh perspectives tested in a crucible of objective research.
A large number of studies have been called upon in preparation of this volume. Space does not permit full discussion of many of these projects, but the writer hopes that brief descriptions will, in many cases, whet the reader's appetite for fascinating encounters with much of the primary source material. Acknowledgment is due here to the many authors whose work is cited throughout this book.
Special acknowledgment is also due to many of the author's colleagues in the past and in the present who have helped him cultivate a