Abstract

This study uses a phenomenological framework to discover from elementary aged gifted girls and boys themselves whether they experienced the social context of their specialized school differently. The gender identities of the three schools in this study were found to play an important role in the creation of a positive or negative social context, which ultimately impacted the talent development process. A review of the research literature found that while there has been research carried out in this area at the secondary school level, not much is known about the impact of social context in the specialised school environment at the elementary school level. This study also differs from other studies in this area in that a phenomenological framework was used which allowed the voices of the children themselves to predominate. Participants at schools that supported stereotypical gender identities were found to be more likely to deny or mask their atypical abilities. These participants generally perceived that they had to choose between social relations or their academic development. Participants at schools that fostered a gender free environment were more likely to accept giftedness as part of their identity. Despite this positive outcome, societal messages were found to influence the positive or negative experience of the gifted label.

Keywords

gifted boys, gifted girls, stereotyping, social coping strategies, social context, specialised school environment

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