BUILDING GIFTS INTO TALENTS
TALENT DEVELOPMENT ACCORDING TO THE DMGT
in: news&science. Begabtenförderung und Begabungsforschung. özbf, Nr.
19/Ausgabe 2, 2008, S. 27-30.
The field of gifted education defines its special population around two key concepts: giftedness
and talent. If you browse through the scientific and professional literature in gifted education, you
will soon discover that the existence of two terms does not mean the existence of two distinct
concepts. Most authors commonly used these two terms as Siamese twins in expressions like “the
gifted and talented are…”. A few scholars (e.g. Joseph S. Renzulli, Robert Sternberg) even hesi-
tate to use the term talent, focusing their whole conception of outstanding abilities on the concept
of giftedness. When the two terms are differentiated, the distinction may take many forms. Some
apply the term gifted to high cognitive abilities, and the term talented to all other forms of excel-
lence (e.g. arts, sports, technology). Others consider giftedness to represent a higher order of
excellence than gifted. Still others associate giftedness with some mature expression as opposed
to a vision of talent as a crude or raw form of undeveloped ability. In other words, if we were to
extract from major publications in the field all the proposed definitions for these two terms, we
would easily end up with well over a dozen of them.
Whereas conceptions abound and often contradict one another, scholars keep mentioning one
particular idea in almost every discussion of the giftedness construct. They acknowledge, implicitly
or explicitly, a distinction between early emerging forms of giftedness, to some extent innate and
usually manifested in childhood, and fully developed, adult forms of giftedness. They will express
that distinction through pairs of terms like potential vs. achievement, aptitude vs. realization,
promise vs. fulfillment. Rarely will these authors transform this fundamental distinction into