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Like-Mindedness and Its Influence on Intellectual and Social Growth of Gifted Learners

Have you ever been a part of a book club where it felt comforting to be around individuals who were genuinely invested in discussing and enjoying the novel you loved? In this scenario, we can agree that the members of the book club had similar interests, goals, and motivations for reading and discussing the selected book—perhaps like-minded.

Being gifted and engaging with like-minded peers can be just as satisfying, but the experience resonates far deeper for the gifted learner than what we imagine. Like-mindedness among gifted students refers to the nature of who gifted students are--the way students think, connect with the world around them, understand others, and relate socially and intellectually with peers.

Lovecky (1994) conducted a study over 20 years ago that explored the modes in which gifted students learn and socialize. In this study, the observations, parent anecdotes, and testing profiles of 32 children (ages 4-16) showcased eight cognitive differences. These cognitive differences can help us understand the influence like-minded engagement has on the intellectual and social development of gifted students.

1. The Simple is Complex

At times gifted students face a hesitancy or inability to respond to simple tasks or questions due to overthinking or use of higher-level analyses. Among like-minded peers, the complexity of their minds is welcomed and understood.   

2. A Need for Precision

Gifted students have complex thought patterns and expect the world to make sense. With these perspectives, often gifted students seek to argue extensively, correct errors, and strive for precision of thought. Among like-minded peers exploring possibilities can be challenging and fun, when to their chronological-aged peers can appear frustrating.

3. The Complex is Simple

Gifted students can make connections in unique ways that have insight into underlying patterns, abstract ideas, and complex thinking. When these learning demands are unmet, it can result in boredom. Engagement with like-minded peers can sharpen these abilities and inspire students into creative outcomes

4. Inclination Towards Immersion

Gifted students learn in a non-linear manner, in which they can handle large amounts of information and manipulate it into a central idea or solution. They can digest large amounts of information related to their interests and immerse into subject matter that motivates them. Academic engagements with like-minded peers can support productivity and utilization of such information and propel them to collaborate on ways in which they can benefit society with their knowledge.

5. Ability to Reason Abstractly at An Early Age

Gifted students can think metaphorically at an earlier age and integrate these perspectives into humor. When around like-minded peers, they can be themselves and understood for their humor!

6. Grasp the Essential Element of an Issue

It is unusual for young children to digest complexity, but gifted student can. Their depth of understanding implications, relationships, and problems sets them apart. When they are around like-minded peers, there is a sense of ‘they get it’ or ‘get me’ and can go further to explore moral and social issues with insight.

7. High Capacity for Empathy

Gifted students showcase empathy in heightened forms. They internalize their identification (projective empathy) with animals, ideas, nature, problem-solving, or their concern for others in deep ways that are unlike their chronological-aged peers. With like-minded peers, there is an acceptance to the responses they have to the world around them.

8. Exceptional Memory

Gifted students have an unusual capacity for memory. It often leads to early development of language, remarkable memory of events, and precocious talkers and readers. With these exceptional abilities, gifted students need educational settings that fuel their sensory, emotional, and memory overload. Engagement with like-minded peers can serve as a healthy outlet for gifted students to think and relate in complementary ways.

With these cognitive differences in mind, how can groupings, programming, or socialization with like-minded peers positively impact gifted students? Gifted students can take more academic risks, challenge themselves, and are more likely to pursue in-depth studies of their interests when grouped with like-minded peers. In addition to intellectual gains, there are social advantages to spending time with like-minded peers. Gifted students can make friends easily, feel appreciated, have the freedom to connected across various interests, practice affective skills, and rest in the comfort of ‘feeling normal’.

At SIG, we consider all these cognitive and social differences and provide programming that caters to the needs of gifted students. Whether it is intellectual stimulation with high-interest course topics and instruction or evening activities to socialize with others, SIG summer programs are a place for gifted student to thrive, flourish, and grow into their potential!

Cited Source: Lovecky, D. V. (1994). Exceptionally gifted children: Different minds. Roeper Review, 17(2), 116.


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