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Lianne Hoogeveen about labels in Dutch newspaper The Gelderlander

High ability is a hot item, but Professor by Special Appointment and Programme Director of RITHA dr. Lianne Hoogeveen does not like the label. In The Gelderlander she talks about unseen talent and why she would like the label ‘high ability’ to go.

According to Lianne high ability is hard to define, but the label does bring an lot of expectations with it at the same time. If you give a child the label of ‘highly gifted’, you therefore in a way say other children are ‘not as gifted’. Nobody benefits from that. Not even the highly gifted children. All of a sudden they have to live up to all kinds of expectations. They are told: “Oh, did you get a 3 for maths? I thought you were highly gifted.”, says the specialist on the area of high ability.


Besides this problem the urge to label in the educational system has another great disadvantage: it creates more inequality. She states: “Research is rather expensive, so mostly parents who have money have such an examination done. Less privileged children do not get the label. It even aids institutionalized racism.” It is exactly for that reason that the Professor by Special Appointment Identification, Support and Counseling of Talent would like to lose the label.

That does not mean that high ability does not exist according to Lianne. On the contrary: “I think it is very import that there is attention for it. Just as I find it important that a teacher gives time and attention to every other pupil. That he/she looks at: what does this child need to learn?” And exactly on thát the focus should lie: discovering the talents of students and making it grow. Because everybody deserves it to learn something everyday. Read the article of De Gelderlander here.


Radboud University has been educating ECHA Specialists in Gifted Education for over 25 years. This training has been developed together with the European Council for High Ability (ECHA) and has further been developed into the state-of-the-art, research based and blended Radboud International Training on High Ability, in short RITHA. It offers a post-academic training programme for professionals (at post-academic level), who are working in the education or (mental) health care sectors.