Teachers for Gifted Children
A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.
-- Henry Adams
Of all the variables in the teaching-learning process, none is more significant for the pupil than the teacher. Researchers in education are frequently humbled by the fact that variation attributable to individual teachers often exceeds variation due to the experimental factor chosen for investigation. A case in point is the New York City study of grouping in elementary school where the individual teacher and his influence were considered to affect student growth far more than the pattern of grouping ( Passow and Goldberg, 1961).
Whatever the significance of the teacher to students in general, the influence of the teacher of gifted students is magnified by several factors. The teacher's most obvious role is direct instruction, and in this role he may confidently expect to secure unusual results with unusually able pupils. The teacher is also a primary pole for students in an interactive process that is basic to learning. Again, superior intelligence will function best in interaction with a stimulating teacher. Third, the teacher is inevitably a model. Because of the potential of intellectually gifted students, the teacher's role as a professional and scholarly worker is most significant.
What does one seek, then, in the teacher of the unusually apt learner? Are there particular traits of personality especially desirable in such a teacher? Is special training necessary; if so, are definably different components of academic knowledge and professional skill needed? Should