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Keynote Speaker

"The Gifted disabled student in the regular and the special classroom"

 By Professor Hanna David,

Tel Aviv University (Emerita), Israel




The term "special education" is used, in most cases, for the education of children with learning disabilities, emotional problems, behavioral difficulties, severe physical limitations, or difficulties related to low cognitive abilities. "Gifted education", on the other hand, is used for educating the more able, children with high learning ability or special talents, creative children or children who had achieved highly in school-related or any other area, such as chess, music, painting, etc.

However, many gifted children belong to both categories. Some suffer from problems or irregularities not related to their giftedness, such as all kinds of learning disabilities, e.g. dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia or AD[H]D, or physical limitations, such as hearing loss, blindness, or paralysis. Some have to deal with issues directly or indirectly connected to their giftedness. For example: social acceptance has to with conforming to the class norms, speaking about subjects considered age-appropriate, or being careful not to use "high level" vocabulary. A gifted child might find it difficult to participate in activities he or she has no interest in, not expressing feeling or ideas because they might seem odd to the peers, or thinking before using any rare or unconventional word or expression. A gifted child who is bored most or even all the time in the class might adopt behaviors such as abstention from class activities, daydreaming or becoming the "class clown" and disturbing the teachers with a variety of voice-making, making jokes at others' expense or even at the teacher's. Such behaviors – not necessary a result of the child's giftedness but related to it lead, in many cases, to labeling the child as "badly adjusted", "socially misfit", "isolated", or the like.

In this keynote I intend to describe the social and the educational difficulties the gifted child has to deal with in the regular as well as in the gifted classroom and present techniques which might help overcoming them. I will present in detail four case studies, two of boys and two of girls, all gifted with either learning disabilities or emotional problems, and the successful interventions adopted until reaching reasonable results.


Hanna David (née: Ehrenstein), PhD was born in Jaffa in 1952 to a father immigrating to Israel from Vienna in 1938, and Hungarian mother, a survivor of Auschwitz. The second in a 4-child family she had insisted on starting nursery school at the age of 13 months, together with her 13-months older brother, and since then showed deep interest in public speaking, making friends and initiating social intercourses;   somewhat later she started reading and has not stopped since. At age 15 years she became a youth-writer of "MA'ARIV LA'NOAR" – the youth edition of the then most published daily Israeli paper, which had led her to publishing of Hebrew and English short stories, and translating to Hebrew, mainly from German. At age 18 she graduated from the Ultra-Orthodox girls' high-school in Ramat Gan and started her mathematics, physics, Hebrew literature and high-school teaching certificate studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In 1975 she received her MA from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, and soon afterward started her family. Hanna David received her PhD, "magna cum laude", in educational psychology (minors: didactics of mathematics and education) from Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München, She worked at the Tel Aviv University between 1976 and 2004.

Dr. David's interest in giftedness started when she was 11, with the birth of her brother who, like all males in the family, was gifted. While still in high school she became an expert of accelerated teaching for Ultra-Orthodox boys whose parents wanted them to get "secular" education in addition to the religious one they received in school. Teaching and counseling the gifted became Hanna's recognized expertise in 1995, when she started teaching the course: "the gifted child in the regular classroom" at the Talpiyot Teachers' College in Tel Aviv. Since then she has taught in 5 other high education institutions, including the MA counseling program ot the Ben Gurion University, and instructed many students in the fields of gifted education, developmental psychology, cognitive psychology and educationa pscychology.

In the last 20 years, Prof. David has become a popular counselor for gifted students, with or without disabilities; a known expert of gifted education in Israel and abroad, an often invited lecturer in national and international conferences and meetings; an expert evaluator for the European commission, and a prolific writer of 12 books and over 140 articles.

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