"Giftedness is exceptional intellectual, physical, creative, and/or affective capacity that can be transformed into extraordinary ability."
This belief statement is closely tied to the work of gifted education theorist Francoys Gagne, Ph. D., Professor of Psychology at the Universite du Quebec. Gagne developed the Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent (DMGT), offering what I consider to be the clearest and most common-sense distinction of the terms 'giftedness' and 'talent.' By offering this distinction, Gagne makes a clear case that gifted learners require a special education to lead to superior talents.
"Giftedness designates the possession and use of untrained and spontaneously expressed superior natural abilities (called aptitudes or gifts), in at least one ability domain, to a degree that places an individual at least among the top 10% of his or her age peers."
"Talent designates the superior mastery of systematically developed abilities (or skills) and knowledge in at least one field of human activity that places an individual within at least the upper 10% of age peers who are or have been active in that field or fields."
Gagne outlines four basic giftedness areas:
School most certainly is among the most influential environmental catalysts to facilitate the successful development of talent. Certainly parents, coaches, and other mentors can play a significant part in talent development. But Gagne also points out that intrapersonal catalysts play a significant role in the development of talent. Motivation, volition, self-management, temperament, and acquired styles of behavior definitely influence the development of talent. It is my personal belief that we can help students develop and identify the optimal intrapersonal attributes required to develop talent. I call this area of teaching the "magic" that teachers possess.
For more information on Gagne's work, please see http://www.sfu.ca/~kanevsky/428/Gagne.pdf