Suppression of giftedness and talent: the importance of anti-suppression act

Of course, the term ‘suppression’ is not an often-cited concern but the suppression of gifted and talented persons occurs in different counties at different levels, though talented and gifted persons need to be promoted and protected across countries. A range of persons including students, government officials or employees and political leaders are suppressed intentionally and/or unintentionally at educational institutes, workplaces, political parties and other levels. Moreover, individuals can be suppressed within and outside of national boundaries. But an important point is whether such a culture can be changed or societies can be made more favorable to the materialization of potentials of talented and gifted human beings without suppression.

It is important to say something about giftedness and talent and the suppression of gifted and talented persons. Sometimes both terms are interchangeably used and refer to the abilities to perform at a remarkably higher than average. But there are clear differences between the terms. The term ‘giftedness’ usually refers to outstanding creative capacities or natural abilities of persons, but the term ‘talent’ is usually indicative of the mastery of skills or abilities. A person can be talented with developed skills even if he/she may not be gifted, but gifted persons when develop skills can be more talented than usual talented persons. Moreover, gifted persons may find it easier to be talented than those who are not gifted but acquired talent with hard works. Individuals may be gifted and talented in and contribute to a wide range of fields.

But the term ‘suppression’ usually indicates putting a stop to something or preventing something from its development. Thus, suppression of gifted and talented persons usually indicates putting an end to, or prevent from, the development of gifted and talented persons. To put it differently, suppression of giftedness and talent refers to putting barriers, unintentional or unintentional, to the materialization of diverse developmental potentials of gifted and talented persons. Since there are differences between giftedness and talent, suppression may be somewhat different. While the suppression of giftedness can be indicative of prevention from realizing giftedness into talent, utilizing the talent and realizing diverse developmental potentials of gifted persons, the suppression of talented persons refers to prevention from utilizing the talent and realizing diverse developmental potentials of talented persons.

Undeniably, talented and gifted persons are suppressed through direct and indirect ways such as direct deprivation of deserved opportunities (even when there are available opportunities) and deprivation of deserved opportunities due to intentional changes in rules/criteria. Talented and gifted persons can be intentionally suppressed in educational institutes, government organizations, private organizations, non-government organizations, political parties and others in terms of education, job, political opportunities, businesses, artworks and others. In educational institutes, teachers suppress students in terms of their deserved results and degrees. In professions, high officials and others can suppress gifted and talented persons in terms of depriving them of getting desired jobs and professional promotion. In politics, genuine or high-capable political leaders may be deprived by less desired and other political leaders. Some creative persons having extra-ordinary ability to do other works can be deprived and suppressed by others. Sometimes, some sort of unintentional suppression such as making no legal and/or social arrangements for providing deserved opportunities (even if there is the capacity to do so) can be intentional suppression.

Of course, important questions can be raised: Can suppression of talented and gifted persons be prevented? Can suppressors of talented and gifted persons be brought under justice? Though suppression may not be prevented altogether, the prevention of suppression, promotion of talented and gifted persons and bringing suppressors into justice to an acceptable level is not impossible. Undeniably, there can be various direct and indirect efforts that can help prevent suppression and punish suppressors such as the enactment of laws directly on the prevention of suppression of giftedness and talent, the promotion of gifted and talented persons with the adoption of relevant policies and strengthening general accountability mechanisms in academic institutions, and government, private and other organizations through the existing legal, party-based or organizational/institutional mechanism.

Of diverse measures, a direct measure such as the anti-suppression act is very important because this can help make suppressors accountable and reduce suppression. Notably, there are varied initiatives for promoting giftedness and talent in different countries including free educational arrangements at different tiers, scholarship programs for higher education, merit-based recruitment, merit-based promotion (in some departments or positions), organizational promotion of talent and giftedness with training and skills development programs, and ability-based nomination of political leaders. In some countries (including the United States), there are relevant acts/policies including the Talent Act/ Policy that usually aim at promoting giftedness and talent through various ways including securing the academic growth of high achieving students and building the ability of school personnel to provide supports to gifted and talented students. Undeniably, such measures can help prevent suppression especially unintentional suppression through promoting giftedness and talent.

Moreover, there are various laws and academic and other organizational regulatory efforts that can provide some sort of protection of gifted and talented persons at different tiers and directly hold intentional suppressors of different sorts in academic institutions and government, private, non-government, political party-based and other organizations accountable on some occasions, though these may not directly aim at bringing suppressors into justice. Indeed, different sorts of suppression including manipulation of academic results, recruitment of less qualified candidates in government and other organizations, and arbitrary termination from jobs can be regulated or held accountable by respective/designated authorities in different countries. But a convincing question remains on whether such efforts are enough for dealing with intentional suppression at different tiers, from the lower to upper and from the local to international, and holding suppressors accountable if there is a lack of direct anti-suppression act with the clear delineation of suppression and its different sorts at different tiers.

Thus, an anti-suppression act needs to be formulated and implemented to make sure that gifted and talented persons are not intentionally victimized, their potentials are not intentionally suppressed and persons who intentionally suppress talented and gifted persons and their diverse potentials are brought under justice. But, of course, the anti suppression act should cover diverse aspects in such a way that can deal with diverse sorts of suppression of talented and gifted persons at all tiers. Such an act should cover suppression not only at educational institutes but also at other institutes/organizations, especially wherever suppression of talented and gifted persons occurs, so that that their potentials can be suppressed nowhere in society and they can realize their potentials without any barriers intentionally put by others.

Notably, the anti-suppression act in one country may not prevent suppression of persons caused by suppressors in other countries and bring suppressors of other countries into justice unless other countries have such an act. Thus, formulating such an act across countries, along with options for cross-border cooperation to deal with suppression especially when persons are suppressed in other countries or by suppressors of other countries, may help prevent the suppression of gifted and talented persons across countries. But the type or severity of the penalty for academic, organizational and other suppressors may depend on the level/severity of suppression. It is also desired that the potential anti-suppression act makes sure that only genuine suppression is held accountable with the specification of suppression of different sorts at different tiers.

Of course, everyone has the right to development. For this, everyone needs social arrangements that can help get protected from the suppression of potentials, no matter whether suppression is caused by suppressors of one’s own country or other countries. But suppression can not only put hindrances to the realization of varied potentials and bring harm to gifted and talented persons who are suppressed but also bring harm to their families, communities, national societies and beyond. Contrarily, an anti-suppression act, along with a giftedness and talent promotion policy, can help not only to prevent suppression but also to realize diverse potentials through promoting giftedness and talent and bringing suppressors into justice across countries.

© The Eastern Herald
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Amir Sayem
Studied Masters of Population Sciences from the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Writing about issues including social, political, public health, environmental, and international relations. Contributor to The Eastern Herald from Bangladesh.