Identification of Exceptional Ability
Speed is born with the foal -- sometimes.
Always some dark horse never heard of before is coming under the wire a winner.
-- Carl Sandburg
If ability could be developed simply by exposing the able to opportunity in a rich environment, there would be little need to fret about identifying high potential. Ability being present could seize upon opportunity and flower accordingly in time. In such a situation schools would have only to offer a wealth of challenge and a variety of stimulating learning experiences. The able youngsters would do the rest.
Unfortunately, this automatic development of talent is mere wishful thinking. We are concerned about potential that is not realized, about high level ability wasted in low level pursuits, about drab lives spreading out before people who might live more richly, and about unfilled needs in a society demanding more top level competences than are apparently at hand. One of the keys to the problem lies in early identification of young people with talents so that they may move ahead with the arduous preparation required in high level careers. Early identification may provide the motivation necessary for strenuous effort. Perhaps it can be used to level obstacles of a cultural, educational, or financial nature as well.
The efforts to identify and deal differently with gifted individuals in school runs counter to the American folklore of equality and brotherhood, at least on the surface. In our assertions that all men are equal, we often overlook the fact that all men are also different. Failure to identify young people with bidden but genuine potential may result in denying