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  1. 1. This article was downloaded by: [UVA Universiteitsbibliotheek SZ] On: 05 September 2013, At: 11:54 Publisher: Routledge Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK Roeper Review Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: Socioaffective Issues and Concerns Among Gifted Filipino Children Rhoda Myra Garces-Bacsal Published online: 20 Sep 2011. To cite this article: Rhoda Myra Garces-Bacsal (2011) Socioaffective Issues and Concerns Among Gifted Filipino Children, Roeper Review, 33:4, 239-251, DOI: 10.1080/02783193.2011.603112 To link to this article: PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE Taylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (the “Content”) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor & Francis, our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinions and views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors, and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Content should not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sources of information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims, proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arising out of the use of the Content. This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing, systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at http://
  2. 2. Roeper Review, 33:239–251, 2011 Copyright © The Roeper Institute ISSN: 0278-3193 print / 1940-865X online DOI: 10.1080/02783193.2011.603112 SOCIOAFFECTIVE DIMENSIONS OF HIGH ABILITY Socioaffective Issues and Concerns Among Gifted Filipino Children Rhoda Myra Garces-Bacsal There is a dearth of information regarding the socioemotional realities of gifted children from ethnically diverse backgrounds, which this research attempts to address. Multiple semistruc- tured narrative interviews were conducted with 22 intellectually superior children aged 4–9 years and with their parents. Manifestations of perfectionism, hypersensitivities, and overexcitabilities were evident among the Filipino gifted children. The implications of such manifestations of heightened sensitivities for educators and diagnosticians were discussed. Cross-cultural contrasts were likewise discussed to demonstrate whether predominant socioaf- fective traits, characteristics, and issues in the West are likewise evident among gifted children from a culturally different background like the Philippines. Keywords: case studies, culturally different gifted, Filipino gifted children, qualita- tive framework, socioaffective characteristics, socioaffective issues, socioaffective traits, socioemotional concerns Recently, there has been a great deal of publication devoted to social and emotional intelligence as an important element to ensure school success among young children (Schiller, 2009) or how to create emotionally literate schools and class- rooms (Bradberry & Greaves, 2009; Caldwell & Gravett, 2009; Cefai & Cooper, 2009) and even on how to cre- ate a social–emotional curriculum with gifted and talented students (VanTassel-Baska, 2009). Yet, Grantham and Ford (2003) have observed that there are only a few publica- tions that focus on the affective and psychological needs of students who are ethnically or culturally diverse as well as gifted. There is a primary focus on Western popula- tions, as could be seen in the work done on the social and emotional issues with exceptionally intellectually gifted stu- dents in the Australian context (Gross, 2002). There are also studies on the impact of racial identity among intel- lectually gifted African American learners (Ford, 2002), Accepted 13 May 2010. Address correspondence to Rhoda Myra Garces-Bacsal, NIE2-02-19, Department of Early Childhood and Special Needs Education, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, 1 Nanyang Walk, Singapore 637616. E-mail: the voices and experiences of gifted Latino/a gifted ado- lescents (Shaunessy, McHatton, Hughes, Brice, & Ratliff, 2007), as well as the self-concept and social status of gifted adolescents who are accelerated and nonaccelerated in a secondary school in The Netherlands (Hoogeveen, Van Hell, & Verhoeven, 2009). Kitano and Lewis (2005, 2007) have likewise written about youth at risk as well as cul- turally and linguistically diverse students from low-income backgrounds. However, apart from the detailed exploration of the social and emotional needs of Chinese adolescents in Hong Kong (Chan, 2006, 2009; Fong & Yuen, 2008) and in China (Shi, Li, & Zhang, 2008), there is an evident paucity in the liter- ature base when it comes to the socioaffective development and issues in other Southeast Asian contexts. The literature that focuses on the social and emotional concerns among Asians would include the study done by Plucker (1994), which explored the socioemotional issues in the development of a gifted Chinese American student, Jeremy. His coping strategies as well as the impact of his ethnic identity development on his socioaffective adjustment were outlined. However, this pertains to the reality of an Asian American gifted seventh grader. A more recent study Downloadedby[UVAUniversiteitsbibliotheekSZ]at11:5405September2013
  3. 3. 240 R. M. GARCES-BACSAL on Asian American socioaffective realities among the gifted would be the research done by Wu (2008) on parental influ- ence on children’s talent development through case studies done with three Chinese American families. Other studies that could be linked to socioaffective con- cerns of Asian learners would include Chih-Chuan and Kellegrew’s (2000) research on the relationship between achievement and occupation in the self-concept develop- ment of gifted Taiwanese adolescents, the exploration of emotional intelligence and how it relates to social cop- ing among gifted adolescents in Hong Kong (Chan, 2003), and how emotional intelligence could be linked to self- perceived creativity and family hardiness of Chinese gifted students in Hong Kong (Chan, 2005b). Except for the recent study done on how projective techniques can be used as a window to discovering socioemotional issues among gifted Filipino children (Garces-Bacsal, 2010), a detailed socioaf- fective profiling of gifted learners from other Southeast Asian contexts and how it is similar or different from the Western realities is yet to be found in the gifted litera- ture. Robinson, Reis, Neihart, and Moon (2002) have compiled some of the leading research findings on socioaffective con- cerns of gifted students in their book, and one of their central conclusions was that “gifted students who come from fam- ilies that differ because of race, ethnicity, language, socioe- conomic status, or a combination of these factors face their own special challenges” (pp. 269–270). The authors recom- mend that future research on the social and emotional needs of children with high potential include the need to prioritize the understanding of the “ways in which demographic and personal variables interact with children’s abilities and envi- ronments to determine the patterns of their lives” (p. 284). It is therefore imperative to take notice of the voices of ethnically diverse children such as the Filipino gifted learn- ers and note how their socioaffective concerns, issues, and characteristics mirror those of their Western counterparts. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE Annemarie Roeper (1977, 2003, 2008) was among the first researchers to include the affective domain in her definition of giftedness as a more enhanced sensitivity and awareness and capacity to transform perceptions into emotional and intellectual experiences. Rather than looking at the intensity of emotions as evidence of a rich inner life, it has always been derided as a sign of emotional instability (Lombroso, 1905, as cited in Silverman, 1993). Silverman (2009) postulated an entirely different way of looking at the affective component of the gifted. Rather than just looking at it in comparison to the cognitive gifts of the intellectually superior child, she has spoken about taking the study of giftedness out of the classroom (where it is usually done) to “the subterranean caverns of the Self—the relentless search for meaning, for self-awareness, for compassion, for all that one can become as a human being” (p. 141). Overexcitabilities Dabrowski (1964) postulated a different approach to under- standing gifted students as early as 1964. He noted that gifted individuals manifest supersensitivity, translated as overexcitabilities in more than just one domain. These overexcitabilities (OEs; psychomotor, sensual, imagina- tional, intellectual, and emotional) are used to partially explain the intensified emotions, heightened awareness, as well as increase in the levels of intellectual and physical activity characterizing the gifted. However, other theorists (Jackson & Butterfield, 1986; Robinson et al., 2002) won- dered whether this is truly a reflection of a qualitatively dif- ferent characteristic that is inherent in the gifted or whether it is merely a reflection of the maturity of their viewpoint. As Robinson et al. pointed out, “What appears qualitatively different may be common to other young people of chrono- logical ages equivalent to the mental ages of the individuals being described” (p. 271). Silverman (1997) noted that, now more than ever, there is a need to tap into the phenomenological realities of the gifted child with a stress on their vulnerability rather than on their strengths, particularly on the difficulties they encounter as regards fitting into a society that simultaneously loves and hates them, as well as the crucial role being played by the family as well as the school in enhancing their optimal development. Filipino Conceptions on Giftedness Considering the many skills and the advanced intellectual development that the gifted child enjoys and possesses, many people begin to perceive the child as mirrored in the Filipino culture whereby strong religious components are evident with the prevailing notion that the gifted child is a gift from God (Baldo, 1987). Hence, aside from just calling the intellectually superior child talented, genius, intelligent, and fast learner, the gifted child also is called a blessed or pinagpala/nainsagutan, connoting the blessings heaped on the gifted person by the Almighty. Baldo’s disserta- tion on the conceptualization of giftedness in the Philippine context further showed that Filipinos basically hold the same beliefs as Westerners as regards their beliefs on the probable causes of giftedness (inborn talent inherited from parents). Apart from conceptions of giftedness among Tagalog- speaking Filipinos (Baldo, 1987; Wong-Fernandez & Bustos-Orosa, 2007), Filipino literature on giftedness gen- erally focused on their motivations compared to children with average cognitive capacities (Ingham & Price, 1993; Zotomayor, 1987) or a characterization of the traits and behaviors of the Filipino gifted (Camara, 1993). A majority Downloadedby[UVAUniversiteitsbibliotheekSZ]at11:5405September2013
  4. 4. GIFTED FILIPINO CHILDREN—SOCIOAFFECTIVE ISSUES 241 of the research was done by experts in the field of education (Baldo; Camara, 1993; Zotomayor); only a few extensive and full-length studies have come from the field of psychology. METHODOLOGY A qualitative–interpretive approach was utilized in this research beccause the focus is on the socioaffective concerns, issues, and characteristics of intellectually superior children, as given voice by the children themselves and their parents. Coleman, Guo, and Dabbs (2007) have recently docu- mented and written a meta-analysis on the state of qualita- tive research in gifted education as published in American journals. They reported that there are seven variants of interpretive research: ethnography (Coleman, 1991, 2001), phenomenology (Vespi & Yewchuk, 1992), life history (Morrissey, 2001), case study (Hettinger & Knapp, 2001), deconstruction (Koro-Ljungberg, 2002), program evaluation (Borland, Schnur, & Wright, 2000), and interviews (Wilcove, 1998). They concluded that qualitative research has only begun in the gifted education field. They likewise noted the need for more case studies. The qualitative–interpretive approach has thus far been more widely utilized in qualitative health research (McPherson & Thorne, 2006; Schlomann & Schmitke, 2007). In gifted research, however, Coleman et al. (2007) related that “the strengths of interpretive inquiry have not been tapped to explore the insider perspective on talent development” (p. 61). There was an emphasis on verstehen, or empathic under- standing, in this research, which means looking at how people feel inside and how they create meanings (Neuman, 2000)—in addition to adopting a phenomenological under- standing of the children’s thoughts and feelings. The Sikolohiyang Pilipino (SP; Filipino psychology) model was likewise employed to make the conversations more appropriate to the behaviors and everyday realities of the ordinary Filipino. My goal as a researcher and as a clinician was to move from a distanced connectedness between myself as a researcher and the children and the par- ents as respondents—termed pakikitungo in the SP model, which belongs to the lowest level of connectedness with respondents—to an intimate understanding and respect of the respondents’ views and feelings—termed pakikiisa in the SP model (Santiago & Enriquez, 1982). Rather than regarding them as subjects in an ongoing study, they are valued more as collaborators in the research process. The narrative form of questioning employed is pagtatanong-tanong in the SP model, which is known as a form of questioning that assumes a deep level of trust (Tuason, 2008) and pakikipagkuwentuhan (engaging the participant/collaborator in conversation; Sobritchea, 2002). The socioaffective concerns then were perceived from the lenses of the gifted children themselves and from the perspective of their parents. Instrument The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children–Revised (WISC-R) was used as the screening instrument for this study because it is a widely used instrument for the identi- fication of ethnically different gifted groups (Johnson, 1994) and has also been used to increase the number of underrep- resented minorities for selection in gifted and talented pro- grams in the United States (Masten & Morse, 1995). Sevier and Bain (1994) also conducted a comparison between WISC-R and WISC-III as a screening instrument for poten- tially gifted children. Their findings demonstrated that ele- mentary schoolchildren being served by specific gifted pro- grams scored significantly lower on the WISC-III than the WISC-R. The implication of this is that a large proportion of gifted students would not have been identified and placed in gifted programming if the WISC-III had been employed. Respondents Multiple case studies were used in this research with 22 gifted children, aged 4–9 years old, who obtained an IQ of 120 and above on the WISC-R as the participants in the study. Eleven children came from the public-school setting and the remaining 11 came from the private-school sec- tor. Purposive sampling was utilized and pseudonyms were used to protect the participants’ anonymity as could be seen in Table 1. The range of the children’s IQs was from 120 (8-year-old Lenny from the public-school setting) to 156 (8-year-old Adrian from the private-school group). A supervisory team of clinical practitioners and develop- mental psychologists from the University of the Philippines also reviewed the research framework and the use of projective instrument for ethical viability. The respon- dents’ anonymity also was protected during the entire data-collection process and identifying marks subsequently were removed to further preserve the confidentiality of the research proceedings. Respondents From the Private-School Setting For the private-school group, 4 children came from a large-school setting (operationally defined as a school with TABLE 1 Case Studies Arranged According to Type of School and Age Group. Pseudonyms Used for Anonymity School type 4-years old 5-years old 6-years old 7-years old 8-years old 9-years old Private Pink Princess JM Jaydee Kitty Amelia JP Adrian Ysabella Donnie Gabriella Jody Public Jaycee Jayjay Ricky Katrize Vic Gerald Lynne Lenny Frank Harry Carmina Downloadedby[UVAUniversiteitsbibliotheekSZ]at11:5405September2013
  5. 5. 242 R. M. GARCES-BACSAL equal to or more than two sections per primary level and have more than 20 students in a single classroom setup and have been in existence for the past 20 years or more) while 7 children came from a gifted-school setting (operationally defined as an institution that specifically claimed to cater to the needs of gifted and talented children with as few as 7 to a maximum of 25 students per class and with one section per grade level). Informed consent was obtained from the parents of the respondents for their participation in the study. Respondents From the Public-School Setting The public school in the study had been in existence since the 1940s in the Quezon City area with a total student popu- lation of more than 2,000 coming from the preschool to the secondary level. On average, there were eight sections per class in each of the primary and secondary level, with a total of 50 to 60 students per classroom. Letters were given to the school principal as well as to the parents of the identified stu- dents and informed consent was obtained for participation in the study. Narrative Semistructured Interviews Conversations (or Pakikipagkuwentuhan) With the Children Two to three sessions of narrative semistructured inter- views were conducted with the gifted children. A voice recorder was used to document the proceedings. With the private-school respondents, the conversations ranged from as short as 15 minutes to 1 hour and 23 minutes per session. There is a wide disparity in the duration of the interviews because some of the respondents were very young (4–5 years old); thus, rapport-building was crucial during the first session to avoid taxing the younger respondents’ attention and energies. Hence, multiple interviews were conducted to follow up on most of the issues raised in previous sessions. Among the public-school respondents, the conversations ranged from 14 minutes to as long as 57 minutes per ses- sion. The younger children (aged 4–5) were given crayons and notebooks and were requested to do some drawings, which was used as a take-off point for the conversation. The children were asked about (a) the things/situations that make them happy, sad, angry; (b) the things they like best about themselves and the things they wish to change; and (c) their dreams for the future. (See Appendix A for Interview Protocol for the children.) Conversations (or Pakikipagkuwentuhan) With the Parents The children’s parents (and in two cases grandmothers) were asked four basic questions: 1. What are the things that make their children happy, sad, angry? 2. How would they describe their children’s disposition? 3. How would they characterize their children’s emo- tional concerns? 4. What are their children’s dreams/aspirations? (See Appendix B for Interview Protocol for the parents.) The narrative semistructured one-on-one interviews with the private-school parents ranged from 47 minutes to 2 hours and 42 minutes and conversations with the parents of the chil- dren from the public-school setting ranged from 1 hour and 4 minutes to 3 hours and 45 minutes. DATA ANALYSIS In all, there were 22 interview transcripts generated from the parent interviews, 24 from the private-school respon- dents (average of two interviews per child), and 25 from the interviews with the public-school respondents—a total of 71 interview transcripts in all. All these interview transcripts were uploaded onto a soft- ware program for qualitative research called NVivo 7.0 for data analysis. Each one was analyzed for emergent patterns and recurring themes. After all 71 transcripts were analyzed, a template was created to record citations from the actual nar- ratives. A citation refers to a particular quotation/narrative that contains a recurrent theme (e.g., perfectionism, indica- tions of overexcitabilities). The parameters for each of the generated themes were not standardized, given the grounded framework and the qualitative nature of the procedure. All transcripts were then recoded, reread, and reanalyzed once the initial template for recording responses had been created. Hence, the themes have been generated from the inter- view transcripts themselves to ensure that the voices of the respondents would be highlighted. Member Checking or Testimonial Validity in Qualitative Research Merrick (1999) defined this as the process of formally and informally checking the accuracy of the interpretation of the researcher as perceived by the participants themselves. The case profiles were shown to 11 out of the 22 parents for their review as active collaborators in the research process, in the event that they wanted to make some changes or mod- ifications on the narrative details. Two final meetings were likewise done with the parents at the end of the research, and the predominant themes and patterns in the data analysis were presented to them for their valuable comments and insights (3 parents from the public-school group attended and 7 parents/grandparents from the private-school setting attended). Peer Debriefing Merrick (1999) defined peer debriefing as collaboratively engaging with other researchers about the data as well as Downloadedby[UVAUniversiteitsbibliotheekSZ]at11:5405September2013
  6. 6. GIFTED FILIPINO CHILDREN—SOCIOAFFECTIVE ISSUES 243 the actual process of obtaining the data. Two of my former colleagues (both assistant professors at the University of the Philippines) who had extensive experience in conduct- ing research using the qualitative paradigm agreed to go through the interview transcripts with three children from the private-school setting and three children from the public- school group and their parents. Except for differences in how the categories were phrased, the emergent themes were likewise apparent to my colleagues and their insights were likewise added into further enriching and refining the final themes generated. Replication and Generalization Coleman et al. (2007) stated the nature of qualitative research quite succinctly with the statement “Qualitative research, in our view, cannot subscribe to the standard of replication and generalization as described by National Research Council because qualitative research intends to do neither” (p. 52). Instead, it uses different criteria (Corbin & Strauss, 2008) for substantiating research results: 1. The results must be relevant to the phenomenon being studied. (This was conducted in the research through peer debriefing.) 2. The participants must be able to understand it. 3. The participants can use the results to have more control of their lives in the given context. 4. Multiple sources are used. For this research, both par- ents and children were interviewed and attempts were made to see how the narratives given by the children were reflected in the parent narratives. Numbers 2 and 3 were done through member-checking in which the actual parent respondents went through the case profiles for greater transparency enabling them to be active collaborators in the process. In adddition, they suggested several modifications, which I noted during the actual writing and reporting process. RESULTS There were four major themes that emerged after a thorough analysis of the interview transcripts: (a) description of the child’s affective states, disposition, and characteristics; (b) manifestations of sensitivities and overexcitabilities; (c) per- ception toward self; and (d) dreams and aspirations of the child. Description of Gifted Child’s Affective States, Disposition, and Characteristics On Articulated Emotional States Consistently, the children’s and parents’ responses about the things that made them happy, sad, afraid, and angry were largely centered around family concerns. They were happy whenever they were granted privileges or provided material things by their parents and when they got to spend time with them (the latter being more salient with the private-school group); they felt sad when they were separated from fam- ily members or when there were conflicts with siblings or extended family members; they felt upset whenever a family member disagreed with them; and they were afraid of being left alone and disappointing their parents when they did not do well during examinations. Among the private-school group, 8-year-old Ysabella mentioned that she enjoys hanging out with her best friends and making bracelets together, and 9-year-old Gabriella noted that she has fun being with her same-aged cousins and friends. Nine-year-old Donnie related that he enjoyed hanging out with his friends and traveling with his family, particularly in Hong Kong, where they get to visit relatives and go shopping. It can then be postulated that in addition to closeness to family, involvement with the peer group happens to be quite salient with the 7–9 age group for the private-school set- ting. For the public-school group, 6 out of the 11 children indicated celebrating their birthdays or going out together as a family to be among the things that make them very happy. Two out of the 11 indicated peer-related activities such as joking around with classmates. No age-group dif- ferences were very apparent. However, it was clearly noted that in the absence of material things that would make them happy, the public-school children seemed to find social rela- tionships rather than material rewards to be more salient in their lives. The impact of such intimate connections with family members was evident with the children’s feelings of sadness and fear whenever there were forms of physical separation from them. Whether the geographical boundaries were con- siderably far (such as the case of 6-year-old Ricky from public school whose mother was in Malaysia or 8-year- old Adrian from private school whose mother was working as a nurse in the United States) or relatively near (such as the case of 6-year-old Katrize whose mother had just recently started working again as a call center agent after being a hands-on and stay-at-home mother to her since she was small, or the case of 7-year-old Gerald whose mother worked a as a news writer who sometimes worked up to 16 hours a day), it was evident that the separation from fam- ily members affected them greatly. Even the separation from one’s grandparents was likewise deemed to be problematic for 9-year-old Carmina from public school. According to Carmina: There is one thing that really made me sad, when my grand- parents left for America, because I felt that the house is not complete if they are gone . . . my grandmother told me not to cry, so I thought that since it was the last time that we will be together, I would make sure to follow what she says. Downloadedby[UVAUniversiteitsbibliotheekSZ]at11:5405September2013
  7. 7. 244 R. M. GARCES-BACSAL Perfectionism and Frustration Tolerance Generally, this appeared to be a trend among the children in this particular study because all of the children from the private-school setting were said to manifest such indications of perfectionism and were frustrated each time that they were unable to execute what they had in their minds. This was based on their own articulations as well as their caregivers’ regard of their children’s temperament. The mother of 6-year-old Kitty from private school clearly indicated this: “When she draws, she wants to make it very realistic, but of course she is still unable to do just that and she gets frustrated.” The mother of 7-year-old Amelia related a similar inci- dent as Amelia struggled to learn how to crochet: Recently, I was like crocheting, and she’s like, ooh, I want to do that, so I was trying to teach her, and her hands were like hard for me . . . and she was like, it wasn’t coming out as well as she wanted, she was actually trying to do it a different way, so it would come out, and she really is getting frustrated on me . . . so when she can’t do something that she knows she can do . . . I was like saying to her, I was already old when I learned to do this, so don’t get frustrated, so like those things can like really make her annoyed . . . not getting what she wants, and knowing she could do it, but somehow she just cannot figure it out. In the public-school group, not all of the parents noted this to be particularly salient in their children. The 4–5 age group was seem to enjoy playing quite a bit more at this point; and the 8–9 age group seemed to focus more on interper- sonal relationships or development of friendships rather than task-oriented activities. Only the 6- and 7-year-olds (Ricky, Katrize, Vic, and Gerald—4 out of the 11) were described as showing signs of perfectionism by their parents. Capacity for Humor Though almost all of the children in the study were observed to laugh spontaneously and smile easily, there were several who specifically mentioned their enjoyment of shar- ing jokes with family members, teachers, and classmates. Seven-year-old Amelia from the private-school setting was seem to have an appreciation of “pun” as her mother put it. Though most children her age would not be able to grasp the elements of a joke that was usually meant for adults, Amelia found them highly amusing and entertaining. Six-year-old Katrize from public school recounted some of the jokes that she heard inside their classroom and 7-year- old Vic shared anecdotes about how laughter was shared in the home and related that he and his older sisters would often have a competition as to who could laugh the loudest: We have a competition as to who could laugh the loudest [so who is winning?] My sister and myself. Before during the olden days, women would cover their mouths with a little fan when they laugh. We should actually change our national flower from sampaguita to kalachuchi now, because now women laugh like this HAHAHAHA, very loud! Capacity for Empathy Ten out of the 22 gifted children (7 from the private school) were described by their parents as having strong capacity for empathy. The mother of 6-year-old Kitty related: Sometimes, even when I am just tired or sleepy, she would ask, “Mommy, why?” Then I would reply, “What do you mean, why?” “You look sad.” Then I would explain that “No, I’m just tired.” Then she’d say “Mommy, I’ll comfort you. Or I’ll kiss you.” The mother of 8-year-old Ysabella has likewise noted her strong powers of observation and her being able to keenly discern other people’s sentiments and her tendency to extend her compassion: She knows when I’m going through something. She would stop by and ask, “Are you ok mommy?” Like a counselor, she would ask, “Do you want to talk about it?” Her sense of empathy and compassion are just outstanding. She’s also a keen observer. I think she has a very tender heart . . . she knows how to actively listen to people. And she would really follow up on things that were shared with or disclosed to her . . . she’d make a good counselor. Manifestations of Sensitivities, Overexcitabilities, and Subsequent Misdiagnosis On Psychomotor OEs Four children from the public-school setting were described by both parents and teachers to be extremely energetic: 6-year-old Ricky, 7-year-old Gerald, and 8-year- old Lenny, who were characterized to be malikot (moves around a lot); 4-year-old Jaycee was likewise described by his mother, who expects him to be well behaved given his high level of intelligence, as being in trouble a lot. Seven of the 22 children were described as having psy- chomotor excitability by their parents. Three boys coming from the private-school sector were diagnosed as having probable attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by developmental pediatricians: Adrian, Jaydee, and Donnie. Further psychological testing demonstrated their very high level of intelligence. When subsequently exposed to a less traditional school environment and provided with challeng- ing tasks in their subject areas, their behaviors changed drastically. Surprisingly, their hyperactivity seemed to have vanished. Downloadedby[UVAUniversiteitsbibliotheekSZ]at11:5405September2013
  8. 8. GIFTED FILIPINO CHILDREN—SOCIOAFFECTIVE ISSUES 245 Other Sensitivities Apart from kinesthetic excitabilities, some of the children likewise manifested sensitivities to sounds, such as 7-year- old JP’s, who used to cover his ears as a child whenever there were loud noises in his surroundings. His developmen- tal pediatrician noted that he may have Asperger’s syndrome, noting his difficulties when it came to forming friendships and his rigid adherence to rules. There also were sensi- tivities to food demonstrated by some of the children, as seen, for example with 9-year-old Donnie, who refused to eat anything solid until he was 4.5 years of age. Six- year-old Kitty, on the other hand, was described by her mother as having sensitivity to texture and was said to be irked by the labels in her clothing; hence, her mother would painstakingly remove them before she would put them on. Heightened Multifaceted Sensitivities to Social Issues and Concerns When the tsunami disaster struck, 7-year-old JP was said to be deeply affected by it and his classmates would actu- ally tease him about it, making him extremely upset. JP’s mother observed that it was essential that a supportive adult was present to explain things to him in order for him to avoid drawing false conclusions based on his fears. Eight-year-old Ysabella, on the other hand, was said to be highly disturbed by Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl (Frank, 1993) and even took it upon herself to read up and research the Holocaust on her own initiative, aghast by what was allowed to happen not too long ago in history. Ysabella’s parents recounted her reaction after reading the book: Ysabella’s mother: When she read Anne Frank . . . it was a very emotionally heavy book, she even watched the film adaptation. Her empathy was outstanding. She studied the Jewish culture, the war. . . . Ysabella’s father: The Holocaust. Ysabella’s mother. The Holocaust. My husband, her papa, really made time for long discussions about it that normal kids would not ordinarily think about. For me what is more significant is the way she views the environment, what’s going on in the world around her. The mother of 7-year-old Gerald (from the public-school setting) also mentioned that they talked about the World Trade Center incident in detail: When the world trade center incident happened, they were like . . . they were affected by it. That there were children who lost their parents. They said they couldn’t imagine that. And they were wondering how people could say there’s something good about that. I told them that with the World Trade Center, it is hard to tell the people who lost their loved ones that there’s something good about it, because they were just working there when it happened. But now, the New Yorkers, they try to find more time with their families. They find time to bond whereas before it was just work, work, work. It is to be noted though that such concerns, though apparent to the 6–9 age group, do not appear to be as significant to the 4–5 age group, possibly because of the greater exposure and deeper cognitive understanding that may be expected from the older age group. There also were differences with the gifted children from the public-school group compared to the private-school group when it came to concerns about social issues. Though the gifted children from the private-school setting articu- lated greater concerns about tsunamis, floods, poverty, and people who live in squatters’ area (as seen in the case of 9-year-old Donnie, who related that if he had a lot of money he would purchase properties and give them to the poor)—these remote thoughts actually were expe- rienced by most of the public-school children, who, by virtue of their financial inadequacies, lived in squatters’ areas and had no lands of their own. If a certain form of reality is “too much with us” it could be the case that it is often taken for granted, given its lack of novelty— which could explain the lack of articulations in this regard by the public-school parents and the children themselves, because they were living in the impoverished conditions that were only imagined by the children from the private-school sector. Perception Towards Self Eighteen out of the 22 students regarded themselves as intel- ligent and articulated this to be the best thing they like about themselves. There appeared to be a matter-of-fact accep- tance of their skills and talents. When 9-year-old Gabrielle was asked how she felt about being smart, she replied “It’s OK” and when further probed as to what traits she pos- sessed that made her regard herself as intelligent, she merely shrugged and stated, “I just know.” Two of the children from the public-school group tempered their “yes” responses to being smart by claiming “hindi naman po masyado (I am smart but not that smart).” Jayjay, a 5-year-old boy from pub- lic school, on the other hand, stated that he is not intelligent since “hindi ko alam lahat (I don’t know everything).” Eight- year-old Ysabella and 9-year-old Jody, on the other hand, refused to answer what they believed to be their best quality or the best thing about them because, according to Ysabella: “I don’t really compliment myself much. I don’t really think that . . . I don’t know. I let other people describe me, instead of me describing.” Several children from the private-school sector (6 out of the 11) mentioned being good-looking or attractive as one of the things they liked best about themselves. Six-year-old Kitty, in a matter-of-fact fashion and with a comfortable air of self-assuredness, announced, “I am beautiful and I like art” and on another occasion she related “I’m smart and I do Downloadedby[UVAUniversiteitsbibliotheekSZ]at11:5405September2013
  9. 9. 246 R. M. GARCES-BACSAL a lot of art, I easily learn them.” Pink Princess, on the other hand, while acknowledging her beauty, was said to prefer being intelligent over being beautiful, as was related by her mother. Seven-year-old Gerald from the public-school group also articulated, when asked what he liked best about him- self: “It can’t be beauty . . . because it will rot and will fade when you’re old.” When asked, “So what do you like best about yourself then?” he replied, “My intelligence.” It is noteworthy, though, that the rest of the public-school children did not mention anything about their looks, in con- trast to the private-school kids, who seem to regard this as salient or significant in their realities given the fact that they mentioned it without being prompted or asked about it. Out of the 22 children, 5 expressed some measure of dis- satisfaction with some aspect of themselves or their body image. Seven-year-old JP (from the private-school group) noted that when he grows up he wishes to lose his baby fat and to be more fit, and Donnie expressed his irritation when- ever he was teased by his classmates about his small Chinese eyes. Six-year-old Katrize, on the other hand, related that she does not particularly like her ears or her nose: Whenever I am at home, they always call me flat-nosed (pango) and they also call me dwarf (duwende) because of my huge ears. I just tell them that what can I do, my mother liked dwarves when she was pregnant (pinaglihi ako sa duwende) even though it’s not really true. Two of the children from the private school conveyed their issues related to wearing eyeglasses. Both 8-year- old Ysabella and 7-year-old Amelia regard wearing their eyeglasses as a burden, a sentiment that was echoed and observed by their parents. Ysabella even articulated that she felt sad about wearing eyeglasses: “I used to be a little sad that I had to wear glasses. Because I thought it will prevent me from swimming . . . soccer . . . running around. Stuff like that.” Over and above what it does to their appearance, the wearing of eyeglasses appeared to be a marked hindrance to alternative forms of self-definition, particularly for Ysabella, who wanted to appear “sporty” for a time. Her mother related: Before she wanted to play soccer but she feels that wearing glasses is a hindrance . . . that is one of her dilemmas that her eyesight is always a hindrance . . . she wants to go into ballet, but she backed out on her own because as she stated, ‘a ballerina doesn’t wear eyeglasses.’ She loves to dance, that’s what she really likes, but she feels awkward with the glasses on. Dreams and Aspirations of the Child Ten out of the 22 children aspired to become doctors, with 6 out of the 10 coming from the public-school group. They explained that they wanted to be of service to people. The responses likewise indicated that the majority of those who wished to become doctors belonged to the 8–9 age group. The professions that received the second-highest rank among the public-school group were teacher, pilot, and scientist, whereas for the private-school sector the second- highest rank professions were being a writer and an artist. The public-school orientation appeared more pragmatic and practical in nature, as opposed to the private-school group, who could afford to indulge in the humanities and cre- ative areas, which are not considered the most stable of professions. There also were indications of a disparity between parental expectations and the children’s own expressed desires, as was noted by some of the parents themselves. This was particularly striking with Ysabella, who seemed to have misperceived her parents’ encouragement for her to try out different forms of writing style as a sign that her parents did not approve of her passion for literature. Ysabella’s mother recalled that it was a very emotional moment for the both of them as they were walking along the beach and Ysabella found the courage to tell her that she felt very disturbed even at the possibility of trying out something that is against her heart’s desire: When we were there in Zamboanga, she was crying, and say- ing, ‘I don’t want to get into that, I want literature writing.’ She was really in tears. I told her, ‘Anak, no one is forcing you.’ She said, ‘I want to go into literature writing, mom.’ And I was surprised, because she was very emotional. I was actually amused but I did not show this to her, she was say- ing: ‘I don’t wanna be like Karen Davila!1 I wanna be into literature!’ Then I said, ‘Ok, anak. It’s a long way to go.’ It’s like . . . you don’t even have to think about that now. But for her it was ‘real.’ DISCUSSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS The research findings indicated that there were similarities between the socioaffective issues, concerns, and character- istics of the Filipino gifted and their Western counterparts, such as manifestations of perfectionism, capacity for humor and empathy, overexcitabilities and sensitivities, awareness of social issues and concerns, and body image issues. Similarities Across Socioaffective Issues, Concerns, and Characteristics Perfectionism Much has been said in the literature regarding gifted chil- dren’s very developed sense of perfectionism and limited level of frustration tolerance when compared to the average child’s (Porter, 2005; Reis, 2002; Schuler & Siegle, 2000). This was linked to the disparity between the very detailed and precise images in their heads and the probable limited output by way of writing or drawing that they note in their Downloadedby[UVAUniversiteitsbibliotheekSZ]at11:5405September2013
  10. 10. GIFTED FILIPINO CHILDREN—SOCIOAFFECTIVE ISSUES 247 works—a trait that most private-school parents in this study used to describe their children. Capacity for Humor The wit and capacity for easy laughter were likewise evi- dent among the gifted children in this study. In the literature, gifted boys have been found to cope better with their gift- edness if they also have a good sense of humor. Luftig and Nichols (1989, as cited by Rimm, 2002) found evidence that “gifted boys hide or mask their giftedness by being funny” (Rimm, p. 14). Sense of Empathy The parents also characterized 10 out of the 22 gifted children in this study as having a strong sense of empathy. The strong link between high intelligence and empathy has been documented in the literature (Silverman, 1993; Porter, 2005). Empathy was defined by Gross (2004) as a “deep understanding of the emotional needs of others which comes from a capacity to ‘visualize’ affectively, the other person’s emotional response to a given situation” (p. 253). Silverman postulated that they could actually “feel the feelings within themselves” (p. 253). Shore and Kanevsky (1993) also noted that gifted children were less egocentric than their age peers and that egocentricity did not mean selfishness but rather the capacity to take note of others’ emotions and actually deduce their cause. Overexcitabilities and Sensitivities One child in the study (7-year-old JP) was observed to show Asperger-like qualities. Neihart (2000) did a study on gifted children with Asperger’s syndrome and proposed guidelines to differentiate characteristics of giftedness from the characteristics of Asperger’s syndrome—an area of research that is yet to be explored in the Philippine context. Among the 22 case studies, 7 were characterized as hav- ing psychomotor excitability by their parents, and 3 were even diagnosed to have probable ADHD by developmental pediatricians. The dangers of such misdiagnosis were quite apparent because, as pointed out by Hartnett, Nelson, and Rinn (2004), “clearly, the psychomotor overexcitability of the gifted child could be labeled as ‘hyperactive’ by the observer uninformed of some gifted children’s tendencies” (p. 74). It is not uncommon, then, according to O’Connor (2002), that many gifted children go through very high levels of intensity and sensitivity that may appear to be qualitatively different from their peers; hence, such peculiarities among the gifted often have been misconstrued as manifestations of hyperactivity symptomatic of ADHD, and there have been numerous occasions of misdiagnosis among the gifted (Hartnett et al., 2004; Moon, 2002). Dabrowski (1964) stated that a child with psychomotor hyperexcitability may get into conflicts with himself and with others because excitabilities extend far beyond what is appropriate to the stimuli of his environment. Sensitivity to Social Issues and Concerns Evidently, this is a characteristic that is likewise shared by the Filipino gifted children in this study, particularly for the 6–9 age group. Their parents could not overemphasize the value of discussing major issues that affect their children’s thoughts and emotions. Lovecky (1998) even mentioned that it may be difficult for children to ask questions that they feel adults are not ready for or are unwilling to discuss; hence, emotional support from adults who can empathize with their feelings and emotions is crucial. The literature also clearly indicates that gifted children manifest this strong sensitivity to social issues (Gross, 2004; Mendaglio, 2003; Porter, 2005) and to show a very deep con- cern regarding what is going on outside of their own little worlds and empathize and feel profound compassion (Gross, 2004; Porter, 2005). Mendaglio referred to this as multi- faceted sensitivity, wherein awareness of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of self and others is foremost and salient. On Body Image and Appearance Five out of 22 children expressed some discontent about how they look. This was particularly evident among two gifted girls who needed to wear eyeglasses. This concern about one’s appearance has been found to be common among gifted girls as well in the literature because uncomfortable peer pressures were found to be dissipated for girls “if they have the good fortune to be pretty” (Rimm, 2002, p. 15) and for gifted boys if they happen to be excellent in sports. Divergences Noted Though there were evident similarities, there were also areas in which the socioaffective concerns, issues, and character- istics differed markedly. One was the very evident influence of family relationships in the affective states of the gifted children (consistently mentioned as part of what makes them happy, sad, angry, or afraid). On Family Relationships Though close family ties are likewise apparent in other Asian contexts (Chan, 2005a; Cheung & McBride-Chang, 2008), there is something quite distinctive in the Filipino culture if one perceives family relationships from within the kapwa framework, which refers to the union of one- self with others in a shared rather than separate identity (Enriquez, 1982). The value pakikipagkapwa-tao is believed to be among the most salient virtues in the Filipino culture— enabling even third-degree levels of kinship to be as close as first-degree ones; hence the high value afforded to extended Downloadedby[UVAUniversiteitsbibliotheekSZ]at11:5405September2013
  11. 11. 248 R. M. GARCES-BACSAL family networks (Enriquez). This was highlighted by Castillo (1979, as quoted by Jones, 1995) who characterized the Filipino household as residentially nuclear but functionally extended. Hence, family is not only defined by the mother, father, and siblings but includes the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. This has very clear implications for professionals who are working with ethnically diverse groups because the notion of achievement as an individual endeavor or striving may not be appropriate for the Filipino gifted whose success is inextricably linked to the family’s well-being and notions of achievement. Dunn, Milgram, and Price (1993) pointed out that when a member of the family has any kind of intellec- tual accomplishment, all of the neighbors are made aware of it and the local paper may even publish the story. The fam- ily, then, is not perceived so much as outside of or merely an extension of the self but rather as a significant part of one’s conception of the self. Sense of Pride in One’s Intelligence Another area in which the socioaffective concerns were found to be different for the Filipino gifted was the evident pride the gifted children took in the knowledge of being intel- ligent. This is in stark contrast to the Western reality whereby there is a greater need to submerge one’s talents or con- ceal one’s intellectual abilities (Gross, 2002; Rimm, 2002) in order to belong or fit in. According to Neihart (1998), though there is no singular, all-encompassing definition of the self there is consensus that it comprises the core of the person- ality inclusive of “identity, self-esteem, and what one brings to the world” (Neihart, 1998, p. 187). Among the gifted chil- dren who may have difficulties integrating socially because they are different, some may have learned to “give up some of their true self in exchange for social acceptance” (Neihart, 1998, p. 187), particularly if their gifts are ignored, denied or rejected by the people around them. The research findings indicate that this is not true in the Philippine context given the premium placed on education in the Filipino culture (Dunn et al., 1993)—at least in the 4–9 age group. Instead of concealing their gifts or being ashamed of them or even minimizing them in order to gain a sense of belonging, there appeared to be a matter-of-fact acceptance of their skills and talents. The cultural context plays a huge factor in this, because the reverence for education could be explained by their perceiving this as a means to enhance their social status and as a tool through which they could raise their entire family circumstances (Dunn et al.). A summary of the highlighted differences in major themes according to school type and age group is provided in Table 2. TABLE 2 Highlighted Differences in Major Themes According to School Type and Age Group Major themes Private school Public school 4–6 age group 7–9 age group Articulated emotional states Centered around family, privileges, material things provided by parents Mostly centered around family Family relationships are more salient Greater mention of peer groups in addition to family relationships Perfectionism and frustration tolerance Highly evident in all children across all age groups Not very apparent across all age groups More concerned with play (4–5); 6- to 7-year-olds are described as more perfectionistic More concerned with peer relationships than task-oriented activities (public school) Capacity for humor Seen across all age groups Seen across all age groups Though the 4- to 5-year-olds are not described to be such, the 6-year-olds manifest this sensitivity More evident among this age group Capacity for empathy Seen among 7 out of 11 students Three out of the 11 were described as empathetic n/a n/a Manifestations of sensitivities and overexcitabilities Three boys were diagnosed to have probable ADHD; tactile, food, and hearing sensitivities were also apparent Four children were described by parents to be extremely “energetic” n/a n/a Social issues and concerns Greater concerns articulated about tsunami, floods, poverty These concerns are actually “lived” by most of the respondents Limited articulations concerning sensitivities related to social issues and concerns Shows greater sensitivity to social issues and concerns Perception toward self General positive regard felt about their intelligence; 6 out of the 11 students also mentioned being good-looking or attractive General positive regard felt about their intelligence; no mention about their looks Not very apparent in this age group Apparent dissatisfaction with body image (wearing eyeglasses, being a little overweight) Dreams and aspirations of the child Articulated wanting to be an artist and a writer in addition to being a doctor Six out of the 11 want to become doctors; more pragmatic ideals noted n/a Articulated the desire to become a doctor Downloadedby[UVAUniversiteitsbibliotheekSZ]at11:5405September2013
  12. 12. GIFTED FILIPINO CHILDREN—SOCIOAFFECTIVE ISSUES 249 This brings into question the conclusion of Robinson et al. (2002) that ethnically different children may have fam- ily and peers who may “actively discourage or passively fail to support their optimal talent development” and that they may “retreat from some opportunities because they find too few of their own group present” (p. 270), indicat- ing that the generalization may not apply across all ethni- cally diverse groups, further highlighting the significance of ethnic-specific research. This becomes even more important in light of the 1965 Immigration Act wherein 40% of the documented immigra- tion to the United States is said to have come from Asia, with the Philippines being the largest source, comprising nearly a quarter of the total Asian immigration and the second largest source of all immigration, said to be surpassed only by Mexico (Espiritu, 2003). Moreover, Filipinos who ini- tially were found to be underrepresented in gifted programs in the United States are now believed to be overrepresented (Saccuzzo & Johnson, 1995). Looking closely at the table presented by Kitano and Dijosia (2002), which indicated the percentage of district students certified as gifted by an American Psychological Association subgroup, there were 306 certified Filipino students (out of 1,093 tested) iden- tified to be gifted—the largest number when compared to Chinese, Japanese, Asian Indian, Cambodian (and other) subgroups. Yet despite the figures, the socioemotional and learning needs of Filipino gifted learners are yet to be found in the literature. It is hoped that a clearer understanding of the socioaffective concerns of children from other countries will be explored in future research. Note 1. Karen Davila is a famous journalist in the Philippines. 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  14. 14. GIFTED FILIPINO CHILDREN—SOCIOAFFECTIVE ISSUES 251 Vespi, L., & Yewchuk, C. (1992). A phenomenological study of the social/emotional characteristics of gifted learning disabled children. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 16, 55–72. Wilcove, J. L. (1998). Perceptions of masculinity, femininity, and androgyny among a select cohort of gifted adolescent. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 21, 288–309. Wong-Fernandez, B., & Bustos-Orosa, M. A. (2007). Conceptions of gift- edness among Tagalog-speaking Filipinos. In S. N. Phillipson & M. McCann (Eds.), Conceptions of giftedness: Sociocultural perspectives (pp. 169–196). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Wu, E. H. (2008). Parental influence on children’s talent development: A case study with three Chinese American families. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 32, 100–129. Zotomayor, P. (1987). Motivation of mentally superior Filipino children and its correlates (Unpublished master’s thesis). University of the Philippines, Diliman Quezon City, Phillipines. APPENDIX A Interview Protocol for Students (the actual interview con- tained more questions but for the purposes of publication, it is limited to the sections covered in this article) 1. Tell me about yourself. Tell me about your day. 2. How was your day in school? 3. Tell me about the favorite things that you do. What do you usually do after school? 4. Tell me more about your family. 5. Tell me about a happy memory that you had. How about a sad one? How about a memory when you were mad? How about a time when you were scared? 6. What usually makes you smile and really happy? What about the things that make you sad? Things that make you angry? 7. What do you like best about yourself? How about the least thing that you like about yourself? 8. What do you wish to be when you grow up? If you could be anything you wanted to be when you grow up, what would that be? APPENDIX B Interview Protocol for Parents (the actual interview con- tained more questions but for the purposes of publi- cation, it is limited to the sections covered in this article). 1. Tell me about (name of child) What is she like? 2. What is she like in school? How would you describe her? How do her teachers usually describe her? 3. How about at home? How would you describe her? What is she like with siblings? 4. What are some of the favorite things that she likes to do? 5. What are some of the things that make your child happy? What are some of the things that make [name of child] sad? Angry? Scared? 6. What are some of the things that affect her greatly? 7. Have you observed any issues/difficulties that your child may be struggling with? 8. What do you think your child wants to be when she/he grows up? AUTHOR BIO Rhoda Myra Garces-Bacsal has a PhD in clinical psychology with a minor in developmental psychology and spe- cialization in gifted education. Dr. Garces-Bacsal is a lecturer at the National Institute of Education in Singapore. Her research interests include socioaffective needs of intellectually/academically gifted, family relationships of the gifted, educational concerns of the gifted, creatively gifted children and their families, and indigenous approaches utilized by family and educators in nurturing giftedness. E-mail: Downloadedby[UVAUniversiteitsbibliotheekSZ]at11:5405September2013