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Writing because I want to, not because I have to: Young gifted writers’ perspectives on the factors that “matter” in developing expertise

The study reported on here sought to better understand the development of writing talent from the perspectives of a group of gifted adolescent female writers. Recent shifts in how giftedness and talent are conceptualized has led to an increased focus on domain-specific abilities and the importance of understanding how specific talents can be identified and supported. Gagné’s Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent (DMGT) (see Gagné, 2000; 2003; 2007; 2008) distinguishes between gifts and talents. Gifts represent the potential for outstanding achievement, while talents are the manifestation of this potential. Of particular interest to teachers and parents are the conditions that are influential in gifts being realised as talents – what Gagné refers to as catalysts. The participants in this study were asked to reflect on the development of their interest and ability in writing over time. Emerging from their feedback were two categories of catalysts: the intrapersonal and the environmental. For this group of students, intrapersonal catalysts were more influential to the realisation of their writing talent than environmental catalysts. This intrinsic motivation to write, and from an early age, is consistent with studies of eminent adult writers. Parents and teachers featured as important environmental catalysts. The participants in this study valued the input and support of teachers, particularly during the early years of their schooling. However, as they moved through the school system, these students felt the nature of the curriculum, and assessment practices increasingly threatened their intrinsic motivation for writing and diminished the satisfaction gained from writing at school. An unexpected outcome of this research was the important influence of music on their current writing.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Garrett, L. & Moltzen, R. (2011). Writing because I want to, not because I have to: Young gifted writers’ perspectives on the factors that “matter” in developing expertise. English Teaching: Practice and Critique, 10(1), 165-180.
Faculty of Education, University of Waikato
This article has been published in the journal: English Teaching: Practice and Critique. Used with permission.