What is giftedness?
Do any of these describe you?
- You see patterns in problems, and links to problems you have solved before.
- Numbers and number problems ‘just make sense’ to you.
- You often see how to solve a problem before others in the class.
- You are very good at explaining maths ideas to others.
- You learn new things in maths quickly.
- Once you start working on a maths problem you want to keep working on it until you solve it.
- You can solve puzzles more easily than others.
- You can get bored in maths class when you have to repeat something you already know and can do.
- You enjoy maths challenges and sometimes like to do them in your own time.
- You see connections between maths ideas easily.
- You like creating your own sophisticated constructions (e.g. with lego)
- You get frustrated when asked to explain problem solving strategies step by step when you can just see the solution.
If some of these sound like you, then you may well be gifted at maths. Being gifted at maths does not just mean that you get better scores in tests than other people. It can mean a whole lot of other things.
A good definition of giftedness is:
“…those with exceptional abilities relative to most other people. These individuals have certain learning characteristics that give them the potential to achieve outstanding performance.”
(Office of the Minister of Education, 2002)
What can I do?
If you are gifted then you are most likely looking for interesting and challenging maths activities. Here are some places to look:
- e-ako maths: This site includes a problem solving pathway with a collection of interactive problem solving modules.
- NRICH: A large collection of mathematical problems to explore.
- The International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO): The World Championship Mathematics Competition for High School students. The website includes problems used in previous competitions. See also the NZ Maths Olympiad homepage.
If you are in an intermediate or secondary school you may like to try completing the Student Needs Analysis Questionnaire (SNAQ). It is a short online questionnaire that may help with your thinking about a range of topics relating to giftedness.
You may be interested in participating in competitions. Some of these may be arranged through your school and others you may have to ask about. The Australian Maths competition is held every year in late July or Early August, students up to year 12 can enter. The Junior Maths Competition is held in late March or early April, it is aimed at students in years 9 to 11.