The Release of Human Potential
Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp Or what's a heaven for?
-- Robert Browning
All the children of all the people march each year into America's public and private schools. They cover the full range of the ability spectrum. Together they represent an awesome reservoir of human potential. The unpredictable outcomes of creative endeavor are somewhere hidden in their bones and personalities. In the course of time their dreams will take shape as aspirations for future accomplishment. Eventually the most able and the least able alike will play out the heroic tragedy of human existence -- that no man achieves all that he aspires to be.
The goals of education for human fulfillment can be no less heroic: the birth and growth of aspiration, the development of potential, the nurture of creative pursuits. These goals might well serve as motifs in the education of all young people -- bright children, handicapped children, boys and girls in elementary school, adolescents in secondary schools, and young adults in colleges and graduate schools. In educating the gifted student, schools face the greatest challenge and heaviest responsibility since the potential for achievement is brightest.
Education of the gifted, however, must be seen in its proper perspective as simply an extension of the doctrine of individual differences. Ultimately, it is not the gifted group but each gifted individual within the group who must seek to find himself and express his potential. The theme of self-realization epitomizes education in a democracy because