An awareness of giftedness in China began more than 2,500 years ago. Current gifted education programs in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, however, depend more on their divergent recent histories than their common cultural heritage. Nevertheless, there is growing awareness that both conceptions of giftedness and the means to identify gifted students need to take into account the Chinese cultural heritage.
In contrast to many other countries and regions around the world, gifted education in China originated more than 2,500 years ago, when its scholars were already thinking about the specific concepts of intelligence, creativity, and giftedness (Chan 2007). At that time, intelligence was understood in terms of “quickness of mouth and swiftness of mind” (Chan 2007, 38), creativity was defined in terms of the uniqueness of one’s ideas and work, and giftedness was said to be found within persons of topmost intelligence. The first intelligence test reportedly was the Chinese Wisdom Board 七巧板 devised during the Song 宋 dynasty (960–1279). Gifted education in modern China is still profoundly influenced by the thinking of both these ancient scholars and by the ideas of Confucius, particularly his ideas about the nature and purpose of learning.