Behavior Problems: I'm Just Not Interested
Welcome back to the Lighting the Way: Teaching the Gifted Child. This week we will take a deeper look at the motivational forces that allow gifted children to excel in academics.
There are two types of motivation, intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is the internal drive a person has to do something whereas extrinsic is when a person is motivated to do something because it has external awards or consequences. Everyone has both types of motivation. For example, you want a promotion at work but you need to have a higher degree to do so. So you go back to school to obtain that degree. You were displaying extrinsic motivation to get the degree because you want the promotion at work. Now let's say you decide to go back to school because you want to finish your degree. There's no reason for the degree. You have a great job and a wonderful life. You just feel that there is something missing in your life. You are intrinsically motivated to get the degree because the desire came from within you to do so.
Gifted children and adults normally operate out of intrinsic motivation. They have a hunger deep within to learn, create, explore and discover. They also possess the ability to obtain large amounts of information quickly and use that information in meaningful, productive ways that are well beyond their age. One of the reasons our gifted population struggle in American academics is because the teaching methodologies used do not suit the learning style of the gifted students.
Once the gifted student deems the academic material is beneath their learning capabilities they will lose interest in the material. If they lose interest then they will find other ways to keep themselves occupied, sometimes at the expense of other students! Academic acceleration works well with gifted students if it is done properly. Gifted students may excel in one subject but not in another. For example, an 8 year old student may be doing 5th grade Math but can't read past a 3rd grade level. So what is the best course of action? Place the child in a 5th grade Math class, 3rd grade Reading class, and remain in 2nd grade for all other academic content. This way the student is being academically challenged. The problem with the American public school system is that most school cannot accommodate the gifted student in this manner. Thus, the student becomes bored and loses interest in school.