chapter  11
Support-oriented identifi cation of gifted students in East Asia according to the actiotope model of giftedness
Pages 24

The actiotope model of giftedness is particularly well suited to identifi cation efforts in the East-Asian context because the actiotope model focuses on learning activities. Unlike many other giftedness models, the actiotope does not defi ne giftedness as the sum of certain personality traits expressed by an individual (such as high intelligence or exceptional creativity). Rather, the actiotope model describes individuals as gifted who are likely to be in a position to execute excellent actions in a given talent domain at some point in the future. The more traditional approach to giftedness identifi cation suggested by other models merely requires the documentation of a particularly high degree of salience of certain personality traits or of learning potential. The actiotope model envisions a fundamentally different giftedness identifi cation strategy: a consideration of all of the

components of a person’s actiotope (action repertoire, goals, subjective action space, and environment) and of their systemic interaction leads to: (a) a prognosis of just how likely it is that an individual will achieve excellence in a given talent domain; and (b) to an assessment of how an individual can best be supported during her or his development towards such achievements. In other words, actiotope-based giftedness identifi cation is about identifying, planning, and continually improving a path of learning leading to excellence. Thus, according to the actiotope model, giftedness identifi cation is not a means of educational placement but rather a way of diagnosing an individual’s educational needs and identifying a learning path to excellence. This diagnostic perspective appears particularly appropriate for the East-Asian context, where effort, and thus also studying, are valued highly. Proverbs such as the following bespeak this cultural tradition: “Talent and will come fi rst in study; will is the teacher of study and talent is the follower of study. If a person has no talent, it [achievement] is possible. But if he has no will, it is not worth talking about study” (Xu Gan, Zhong Lun, quoting Hong, 2001). Empirical evidence confi rms the prevalence of such attitudes (e.g. Salili and Hau, 1994 ).