Talents

“Important as it is for all students to know about the history and literature of their land, or about the major biological and physical principles that govern the world, it is at least as important for students to identify their strengths and to pursue areas in which they are comfortable and can expect to achieve a great deal.” (Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons, By Howard Gardner)

Scientists have spent years studying the phenomenon of outstanding ability or talent, trying to identify a set of factors that influence the development of talent. Many theories and models of outstanding talent have been created and the very fact that there are several different theories suggests that the phenomenon of talent is not one that can be easily and precisely described. However, one can find some common features in the existing theories and approaches to talent. The most frequently-mentioned factors affecting the development of talent are: creativity, special abilities, high motivation, commitment to work, adequate personality structure (including, in particular, the high level of ambition and self-esteem, a supportive environment, a high level of general intelligence, and ... pure luck.

Let's try to "translate" these factors into some tangible indicators that can be measured. General intelligence and creativity are self-explanatory - we simply examine the general level of intelligence of children. The same is true for special talents. Next, we have high motivation and commitment to work. In the case of children, however, it is better to talk about interests, preferences, and intentions. Motivation and commitment to work do not have a chance to occur if the child is not interested in a particular activity.

And how can the structure of personality best be addressed? On this point, we will examine the nature of children and, depending on their temperament, suggest parents develop in them a high level of ambition while maintaining high self-esteem.

That leaves us the factors of a favorable environment and pure luck or chance. As far as luck or chance, we do not have much influence, but we can help the formation of a favorable environment, providing parents, grandparents and caregivers information about how to support children in their development.

In this way, we obtained five key dimensions of talent: intelligence, innate abilities, interests, temperament, and the environment. We will explore the first four dimensions through parents or guardians, using specially designed tasks in the form of play. Based on the results of these evaluations, we will present an approximate diagnosis of the child's ability or talent, or at least specify the direction of talent. Together with the description of talents, we will provide the parents or guardians tips, suggestions, and exercises to encourage and foster the development of discovered talents, capabilities, and preferences of the child.

Let’s help our children develop to their fullest potential, so they become happy, talented and fulfilled adults.

Lately, there has been a growing trend of discovering children’s talents. Until recently, parents seem to have been more occupied with investigating children’s disorders than their talents. In almost every classroom, there were at least a few children with various disabilities (dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD). Now, the tendency toward looking for disorders is fading and parents are beginning to explore the giftedness of their children.

The surge in the recognition of dysfunctions led to an explosion of clinics that diagnose and support children with disabilities. In contrast, the new trend is focused on the talents and abilities of children, driving the growth of children's use extracurricular activities, additional educational activities, and special schools for the most talented. But there is a gap in this new trend. Although an increasing number of books, guides, workshops, and websites are offering programs and activities to support the development of children (either in general or in very specific areas), there is no legitimate evaluation or diagnosis, which would determine which talent or abilities should be developed. The dysfunction diagnoses, meanwhile, come with a full set of measures from finding and labeling the difficulty or dysfunction to taking steps to overcome or at least reduce its negative effects.

Perhaps, for many people, there really is no need to diagnose capabilities or talents. Just supporting parents to build their children’s talent or ability may be enough. Unfortunately, not everyone sees the need to find children’s talents and to discover what each particular child can excel at. Consequently, the child misses out on the development of that talent which is likely to yield the greatest benefits in the future .

That’s exactly where we would like to assist parents - in the discovery of their children’s most promising talents. Of course, we will not ignore the idea of developing these talents, because discovery alone is not enough. We will also help parents to monitor these talents through the developmental stages of childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, and ultimately adulthood. All of our activities will be based on scientific studies, the results of empirical research, extensive educational experience, and conclusions drawn from the most up-to-date studies of features and capabilities of the brain.

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Is it an innate ability, aptitude, gift or faculty? Or maybe it is a person’s preferences, hobbies, and interests? How about intelligence, personality, and temperament? Or, ultimately, competence, craftsmanship, artistry, and virtuosity?

According to some interpretations, talent is an outstanding aptitude for some pursuit. Another definition is that talent is an innate or acquired predisposition in some area as reflected in an above-average level of fitness or ability to learn quickly in the area. Yet another definition describes talent as a specific configuration of general and special abilities, which allow for the exceptional performance of specific, content- oriented activities. In all these and many other definitions, talent is defined by a synonym for talent, aptitude, or predisposition, which means that these definitions don’t explain much.

So what does science tell us about talent? In short, we can say that there are as many definitions of talent as there are scientists who talk about the term. It is very much like the definition of intelligence - in J. P. Guilford’s 1000-plus page study of intelligence The Nature of Human Intelligence, there is no single definition of the term. The most accurate, but also the most useless, definition of intelligence is a statement by E. Boring: Intelligence is what is measured by IQ tests. So how about talent? Does this mean that talent is what is measured by talent tests? The first problem with this reasoning, however, lies in the fact that there are no standardized tests to measure talent. Second, this definition would be - like the above-cited definitions of intelligence - completely useless.
But let us return to the concept of "talent.” As mentioned, even scientific studies present many different perspectives on this issue. In the social sciences, there are many vague and hard-to-grasp concepts, one of which is that of talent, ability, or aptitude. Plus, it is a concept that is associated with many spheres of human activity.

Here again, we are faced with a research dilemma - whether to treat man as a coherent, integrated whole, or divide his functions into different spheres. The most well-known division of human functioning in the spiritual and physical realms is the work of Descartes. With the establishment and development of a new field of science, psychology, there began to appear more divisions of the psyche – first the mind, emotions and will, and later personality, intelligence, and temperament. After this period of searching for divisions came the idea of a comprehensive synthesis and recognition of man. Modern science is now looking for bridges across the various spheres of human activity and also relationships and dependencies between them.

Drawing on modern science, we also believe in the concept of a link between innate aptitude, interests, intelligence and personality. Based on these four key dimensions, we will be able to determine the most important potential of a child that, if developed, could lead to useful and satisfactory competence in the future.

Thirty years ago, the U.S. launched the Voyager 1 space probe. It has since left our solar system and its whereabouts are unknown. The true potential of this scientific endeavor remains to be discovered. How much more valuable, then, is the potential of our children? As we launch them today, we may not know where they will end up in the distant future, but we hope to aim them in the right direction and give them the ability to continually move forward.