2e Primer: Key Terms & Resources
Helpful definitions of common terms used in describing twice-exceptionality
2e: The term “twice-exceptional” or “2E” is used to describe people who learn differently both because of their high abilities and challenges
Developmental asynchrony: Schools tend to use “grade-level norms” quite a lot. Unfortunately, norms are mathematical constructs, not people. While they can be useful, they often fail in providing us with useful descriptions of the students who operate considerably above or below the norm. 2e students typically are asynchronous in their development, meaning that in one social, academic, intellectual, or creative area they may be developing ahead of their age peers, and in other areas they are developing more slowly, at their own natural rate.
Dual-differentiation: Curricular modifications that simultaneously take into account both a student’s advanced cognitive abilities and learning challenges
Exceptional: Exceptional is sometimes used to describe the ability to perform something at a high level. It is also used to indicate that students’ abilities and/or challenges fall at the extremes of statistical norms, such as on the low or high ends of a normal curve.
Family context: Children spend 85 percent of their time away from school. What happens during that time is as important to the development of the child as is his/her time at school. We want to understand and work with families to support parents, and improve communications, relationships, and roles to maximize all kinds of learning while not in school. Information in this area can help us to make decisions about students and curriculum.
Gifts: “Gifted” is typically used in two ways. Clinically, gifted refers to the potential we believe a student to have in certain cognitive areas, based on psychometric testing. Gifted is also commonly used as an adjective. When someone has a demonstrated ability in a particular area that stands out, considerably above everyone else for his/her age and experience levels, we say he/she is gifted.
Interests: All people tend to have interests. We tend to be drawn to our interests naturally, and learning is often greatest in areas of interest. Sometime interests can be so intense that we must seize upon these wonderful moments when students are “in flow” to maximize their education. We can use interests to create courses, find entry points and analogies to learning across the curriculum, and to help remediate any weaknesses.
Learning differences: Differences can include learning styles, diagnosed or undiagnosed learning challenges, personalities, temperaments, and IQ data. Some differences also are sometimes described as learning disabilities.
Relative strengths: The term “relative strengths” is used to indicate a hierarchy of abilities. There are always some things we do better than others. While none of these abilities may be referred to as a gift or a talent, they are strengths when compared to other lesser abilities one may have.
Social and emotional profile: The SEP tends look at the conditions under which students are at their best. We want to understand what motivates engagement and what triggers unproductive behavior. We want to understand and develop student resilience, self regulation, and inter- and intra-personal awareness.
Strength-based: Curricular and instructional approaches that are differentiated to take into account a student’s cognitive abilities and styles, learning preferences, and profiles of intelligences.
Synesthesia: The word comes from two Greek words, syn (together) and aisthesis (perception). Synesthesia literally means “joined perception.” The most common form is when someone always sees a particular color in response to a certain letter of the alphabet or a number, but it can involve any of the senses. For example, some people taste colors, others smell sounds, while some have a tactile response to what they see. Duke Ellington saw sounds as colors. Physics Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman noted, “When I see equations, I see the letters in colors. As I’m talking, I see … light-tan J’s, slightly violet-bluish N’s, and dark-brown X’s flying around.”
Talents: “Talent” is used to describe demonstrated ability at something, academic or artistic. A given talent might be at the level that we would refer to as “gifted,” but it might not. However, we typically do use the term “talented” to indicate that someone does stand out among peers in his or her performance area. Talents are advanced abilities with greater potential that can and need to be developed if they are to be the foundation of a career in a competitive field or the basis for personal development.
Talent development: Encouragement and support of identified talents and abilities that are nurtured in their own right – not as an opening for remediation nor as a reward or motivator for achievement.
Talent focus: Involves ongoing identification and recognition of a student’s advanced abilities as well as budding interests, along with explicit options for exploring and expressing those abilities and interests within and outside the curriculum. “Talent focus” is used as an overarching term that includes “talent development.”
In addition to the 2e Center, the Bridges Education Group manages 2eNews.com, which is the home for leading research, conversation, and commentary around the needs of this population and increasing awareness of the role cognitive diversity plays in learning and the workplace. You may sign up for a free membership here. Other helpful resources include:
•Operational Definition of Twice-Exceptional Learners
•SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted)
•TECA (Twice-Exceptional Children’s Advocacy)
•The Twice-Exceptional Dilemma NEA handbook