Gifted education in America has waxed and waned in its presence and prominence over the past two hundred years. The need to identify and make special provisions for gifted students has been counterbalanced by a persistent belief that they need no unusual educational measures. This entry reviews that history.

Early Public Education

During the early years of the American public school system, gifted education programs were notably absent. Through the early 1800s, philosophical and behaviorist theories that one could be molded entirely based on controlled experiences were supported by the democratic ideal that all men are created equal and provided a strong basis upon which gifted education was deemed unwarranted.

Around 1850, scholars began to talk about the gifted or academically talented child. It was then thought that ...

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