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Super4 - CREATIVITY RESEARCH JOURNAL 20(2 234242 2008...

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Underachievement and Creativity: Are Gifted Underachievers Highly Creative? Kyung Hee Kim Eastern Michigan University This literature review synthesizes the available literature that suggests that the underachievement of gifted students may be tied to their inherent and unrecognized creativity. Apparently, many gifted students are underachievers and up to 30 % of high school dropouts may be highly gifted. Beginning with the belief that these gifted underachievers may be highly creative, this article first reviews the view that creativity can be a gift, much like intelligence. It then reviews the typical characteristics of gifted underachievers and the similar characteristics of creative underachievers. Finally, it reviews the studies and theories that have shown that once underachievers are placed in an environment that fosters their needs, with motivation, mentors, understanding, freedom, and responsibility, they can become highly productive. Classrooms across the nation are facing ever-increasing pressure to educate every child, especially with the No Child Left Behind (2007) Act. There is a demand for those children who might normally ‘‘fall through the cracks’’ to receive closer attention and potentially greater accommodations than were previously required. A 1984 report from the National Commission on Excel- lence in Education, A Nation At Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform , clearly documented the indicators of poor performance in American schools. The indica- tors included comparisons with other countries and findings that in the United States, over half of gifted stu- dents do not achieve to capacity. There is also declining science achievement, functional illiteracy in 13 % of 17- year-old students, declining SAT scores, and a host of other negative indicators (Feldhusen & Hoover, 1984). Underachievement has been a particular problem for gifted boys, and it may affect 50 % of the boys of above average ability (Gallagher, 1976). U.S. News & World Report has estimated that up to 18 % of all high school dropouts are gifted students (Solorzano, 1983). The U.S. Office of Education has estimated that 25–30 % of school dropouts are gifted and talented students (Seeley, 1984). Creativity and intelligence are not mutually exclusive. Therefore, the cause of the underachievement of many gifted and talented students may be their creativity, which tends to clash with traditional school environ- ments. Many gifted underachievers show potential for high levels of creativity (Whitmore, 1980) and many of the characteristics reported for gifted underachievers are similar to those of highly creative individuals (Lajoie & Shore, 1981). It has been well documented that highly creative students experience difficulty in traditional school environments (Amabile, 1989). Sixty percent of 400 eminent creative individuals studied by Goertzel and Goertzel (1960) had serious school problems.
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