What are talents?

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.

One thought on “What are talents?

  1. April

    I agree with what you are saying! As a teacher with many years of experience with children, I think that talent is a tricky topic to define. All I can say is that you know it when you see it. And just like standardized tests do not give us a full picture of intelligence, there is no simple assessment to determine talent and potential.

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