The power of the Minority and the minority of One: Martin D. Jenkins’ Legacy to Gifted Education


Samantha Lobban


Following the enactment of the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act 1988, there was much research into educational provision for culturally different students. However, this research was not an anomalous or instantaneous development; rather, it resulted from decades of academic activism. One such scholar was Martin D. Jenkins. An African-American man, Jenkins was born into a Jim Crow-governed society where pedagogical philosophy was marred by the belief that black students were inherently intellectually inferior. Although a rich literature exists which examines Jenkins’ life and works, these texts limit his work to the ‘historical’, thus ignoring the continued significance of his research in twenty-first century Australia. This article critiques the strengths and weaknesses of Jenkins’ work and his enduring legacy to gifted education. It is argued that Martin D. Jenkins was a seminal scholar within the field of gifted education who highlighted key issues such as identification, cultural disadvantage and the need for tailored support and enrichment programs for gifted students. It is concluded that Jenkins’ work, albeit underappreciated, is not only noteworthy within a historical context, but for its continued significance today.