Good Will Hunting, the movie, is about a young man, Will, who is a gifted mathematician, be it unrecognized by his peers, growing up in a rather low economic social class. Even with Will’s genius IQ, he chooses to work as a janitor at MIT. It is here that we see first hand the true giftedness Will possesses after he is able to solve a graduate-level math problem posed by Professor Lambeau that even his own students are struggling to solve. Through a series of events, Will is arrested and facing serious charges when he is taken under the wings of Professor Lambeau and starts to see a therapist. Just like Will Hunting, gifted children can be classified in many of the same profiles or characteristics as described by Davis and Rimm (1988). Hunting is a character that exhibits many attributions of the gifted and talented.
These characteristics include his ability to approach problems creatively especially with his flexible thinking, his nonconformity, and his social relationships with his friends and girlfriend. To begin, Will demonstrates his giftedness in his creative thinking through his ability to repeatedly talk his way out of legal charges through his multiple arrest. With his vast vocabulary and quick on his feet thinking, Will is able to convince the judge that he should be acquitted of what he is being accused. This segways into Huntings ability to non conform to social norms and authoritative figures. Hunting questions these established rules and beliefs of society especially when it comes to his own personal career path. At a point in the movie we watch Will have an internal struggle with accepting a particular job interview. This is a window into how the gifted can often struggle with the direction in which they should go in order to use their giftedness to not only be successful but also find eternal happiness.
In the text this is referenced as, “career decision-making by gifted persons differs in many ways from such decision-making by others. ” (Davis and Rimm, 1988). This means that the way in which a normal individual would approach a problem for decision making and logically come to a conclusion, gifted individuals can have an eternal struggle to make these decisions for fear of the lasting results. Additionally, Will has deep and connected personal relationships but at times often struggles to reveal his truer self to those he cares about. Huntings deep compassion for his friends, whom he refers to as his brothers, is evidenced throughout the movie. In particular, there is a moment in the movie when Hunting comes to the aid of his friend who is being embarrassed at a bar. Hunting doesn’t even hesitate to stick up for his friend and quickly turns the table onto the “bully” by undermining his intelligence in the middle of the bar.
Adversely, however, we watch as Will has a hard time opening up and revealing his more emotional side to his girl friend. Growing up an orphan, Hunting was moved from foster home to foster home. He has had to become his own support system and motivate himself intrinsically. Through his own interpersonal issues of his childhood with physical and emotional abuse, Hunting can be seen pushing away those who try to get close to him emotionally. This movie touches perfectly on the many different characteristics of a gifted learner and the interpersonal struggles they may face. Through this film it is apparent to see how teachers can easily overlook struggles gifted learners are facing outside of school and in their personal lives.
Thus, it is our responsibility to not only help these young learners to achieve academically but socially as well. By doing so we can better understand how students may be struggling with social relationships or even feelings of isolation. Like all gifted and talented students, Will Hunting is unique and acquires multiple talents of the gifted. As a teacher of the gifted it is important for me to recognize these needs of individual students by encouraging them socially and academically in a supporting and nurturing environment. Furthermore, I need to supply this learning environment for these learners so that they may grow.
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