The Progressive Paradigm of Giftedness and the Logic of Neoliberalism: Economic Value as a Determinant of Expectations

Laura Mazzoli Smith, Newcastle University
translated by Chernoivanenko Yulia Olegovna, Institute for Research on Social Phenomena

For citing:
Mazzoli Smith, Laura (2016) ‘The progressive paradigm of giftedness and the logic of neoliberalism: economic value as a determinant of expectations’, Social Phenomena. 2016 3(6), pp. 6-16 (Russian Translation by Yulia O. Chernoivanenko 2016).


The paper sets forth an argument that the global landscape of neoliberalism is shaping the field of gifted education in fundamental ways. The core principles of neoliberalism work in opposition to much of what is referred to as ‘the progressive paradigm’ in gifted education, whilst aligning more closely with traditional approaches to giftedness: high stakes competition, the measuring of the individual and certification work in opposition to the fostering of diverse abilities and labelling provision rather than people; performativity and the reification of big data work in opposition to context-led, holistic approaches to talent development and high ability; technical-managerial structures work in opposition to socio-cultural sensitivity and awareness; and an apolitical discourse of instrumental educational aims works in opposition to a values-led model of the human intellect. Opportunities therefore must be found to engage in dialogue about high ability beyond its exchange value, through actively problematizing, politicizing and historicizing giftedness.

Keywords: giftedness, neoliberalism, expectations, education, progressive paradigm of giftedness, social environment.

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