24 Mar

JOSEPH RENZULLI, researcher of giftedness and lecturer of ICOT 2015, advocates that sthe whole school population should benefit from strategies traditionally associated with high ability students.

In the late 70s, Joseph Renzulli challenged the classic approach of giftedness (or gifted), previously linked rigidly and without many nuances to an intelligence quotient (IQ) higher than 130. With his theory of the three rings, he joined the innate ability in some field of knowledge the creative potential of the individual and their commitment to take action. Only the confluence of these three variables crystallized in what he called "gifted behaviors" or "creative products". Furthermore, environmental factors of diverse nature and personality can pave the way to be greatly gifted or to be plagued with insurmountable obstacles.

In addition to his theoretical contribution, the educational psychologist has pleaded for decades to extend to all types of students -through his school enrichment model - which are the traditional teaching strategies for high ability students.

Renzulli will not miss his appointment with the International Conference on Thinking (ICOT) next summer in Bilbao, which will coincide with old acquaintances such as Howard Gardner, David Perkins and Robert Sternberg.

His approach means that the individual holds high capacities in diverse areas. Is intelligence a block with isolated compartments or does it coincide with individual talents in many fields simultaneously? In other words: it is usual that a student who excels in math also do so in language or music?

If we consider the theory of multiple intelligences of Howard Gardner, we understand that intelligence is composed of different areas and the capacity to coincide in all , in the same student is low .Mathematics or language are two of them. So our responsibility is that each student can develop their potential in their areas of strength. In other words, education should focus on the strengths and not weaknesses of the student.


Gardner decided to include the idea of ​​emotional intelligence in a later review of your list. How important is the management of emotions for the full development of our abilities?

There are many examples of people tremendously respected for their enormous contributions to knowledge, research, arts ... and the they demonstrate strong emotions towards their field. That's the way I like to look at the concept of emotional intelligence, in the sense that our actions are motivated by beliefs, passions and feelings that we can contribute our talents to progress in a given area.


Much of the debate about giftedness revolves around the desirability of especially talented students to advance one or more courses but then they have older classmates leading to a mismatch between intellective and emotional development. The classic image of beardless boy among university students ...

However Each case is different, and as such has to be analyzed . Here in America we have examples of pupils aged 13 who have gone to university and have done very well, while others have not been able to adapt and have required much help. As I said earlier, it is important that a student who is advancing fast, for example, in mathematics, can be in learning situations with students of a similar level. The same applies to the areas that are of great interest for students theater, environmental issues ... to share the same interests with your classmates , with the same academic skills, can produce many benefits in the development of talent.


I wonder if grouping students according to ability or interest can lead to the creation of, say, academic ghettos within the school.

There are many factors to consider, and my proposal aims to become universal rule. We must not forget that students with high abilities in a particular area will be in class with regular students in those other areas that do not stand out as much, and the importance of social activities to ensure direct contact between all types of students.


It's been over 30 years since he unveiled his theory of the three rings. Do you think it has helped change the way we perceive giftedness as a kind of immutable and easy to quantify divine gift?

Yes, I think that my ideas have been influential in many parts of the world. I want to stress that I do not say that IQ tests to determine intelligence are useless, but rather to show that those people that history has recognised as highly talented, combine academic ability in the traditional sense, through IQ but with the other two rings: creativity and motivation. As shown in their biographies, their combination of skills are above average in their chosen fields but it is creative thinking and motivation put into practice which has led to the creation of inventions, literary or musical works, or to solve complex problems. If we only look at students with a high IQ and not cater to those with high creativity or extreme motivation, we will be wasting much talent.


Can most people generate, under the right circumstances, what you call "creative products", if only once in life?

A lot more people than we think. I do not have specific figures, nor do I believe they exist, but I am clear that if we equip our youth with opportunities and resources and encourage them properly, the results will surprise us. Conversely, if we do not teach students to be creative, if you only do you questions with predetermined answers, we can not explore thier full potential.


Apart from what you said, if you could take a concrete step in schools with a view to further development of intelligence and creativity, what would it be?

Provide more general enrichment , vopportunities for groups of students as broad as possible. If, for example, I am organizing visits to scientific facilities for students who excel in science, these visits should be open to all abilities . However, and here comes the important, if as a result of that general enrichment, three, four or five students decide they want to advance in a scientific area, we put all means at their disposal.



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