Gifted children risk to experience a mismatch between their needs and the characteristics of their learning environment: they can meet too low learning demands, peers with different interests, teachers with ambivalent attitudes that may be unwilling to adapt the learning environment to their needs. There are indications that such problematic interactions not uncommon within the regular educational setting in some specific cultural contexts can become a risk for gifted children's mental health, leading eventually to higher rates of anxiety and depression than for a normal population. This study investigated the attitudes of special-educators-in-training in a Swedish educational context, where the theme of giftedness is presently not included in teachers' training or in the official guidelines.
A pilot study using an anonymous web survey among experienced Swedish teachers attending a special-needs programme was conducted to elicit their overall knowledge of and attitudes towards gifted children. Of 243 teachers asked to participate, 81 answered the web questionnaire. The questionnaire’s six scales were: Needs and support for special services, Objections to resistance, Social value, Rejection, Ability grouping and School acceleration.
The non-response rate of 67% indicates low interest in this area. However, over 80% of the responders believed that the needs of gifted children were being ignored at school. While mean scores on the scales Social values, Rejection and School acceleration were low, those for Needs and support and Objections to resistance were rather high, showing that responders acknowledged the needs of gifted children and were able to resist stereotyped views. The results indicate a need for more information about gifted children and for discussion, in teacher and special-needs programmes, of educational policies for gifted students.
2008. 9- p.