Robert Winner


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gifted children ... where are they now.

Last week I read that a 11 year old boy had just enrolled at Harvard to study Particle Physics. (Hope I got that right).

We have discussed the gifted before ... My question is this happens quite often ... is there any tracking that goes on after they enter or graduate college. Do they live up to or exceed their potential. Do they burn out? Do they make great contributions? Do they fit into society?

My niece was a gifted student ... she has a wall full of diplomas and certificates. She loved going to school and excelled. She never really did anything with all of that knowledge. She simply loved going to school.

Any thoughts on the gifted ... past ... present. Remember the Whiz Kids ... can you name them ... what were their contributions. Is it good to label these kids?

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    Jul 2 2013: Every child is unique , gifted with an unlimited potential.

    Its up to us as an indvidual, parent ,citizen, society, leaders and a country
    to unearth this potential.
  • Jul 24 2013: I remember three young teenagers - all doing amazing Phd type work, quite a few years ago, some newspaper did a follow up.

    One was in a mental institution, one committed suicide, one disappeared.

    What the moral is... you decide.
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    Jul 4 2013: Gifted children are the norm, until we teach them about being themselves.
  • Jul 2 2013: My experience with "gifted" students has less to do with "giftedness" and more to do with "academic ability" of being academically abled. Rarely do I see students labeled "gifted" and put into "gifted" classes in school who are not academically abled. There are few students who are talented in music or the arts that make it there. They don't fit the mold that people expect or want.

    I always cringe when I hear "gifted" also as I have know to many brillant students who are not successful outside of the school because they don't have the coping skills for when they are not successful. Also, I have seen a whole lot of "gifted" people who were not academically abled early in life.
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    Jul 2 2013: Okay LaMar. I read and understand the MMPI test. I've had one too.

    Now what do we do if we reasonable discern that a very smart child, who has the potential to create a real, working fusion bomb and would more than likely sell it or use it, sometime in their life cycle. Do we just keep an eye on them throughout their life? Can they be -are they- tagged for life?


    LaMar, after reading this information:
    I have concluded that there is serious concern about giving such tests as the MMPI-A , within the school environment. After reading this material, I fall back on my claim that there is too much evasiveness associated with it. If this test is given within the schools system, it creates a record that can fall into the public domain.It offers data that should be private medical data to practically anyone who asks for it with the proper documented request. I don't think we allow this type of testing in Georgia. I will be checking this out.

    The information garnished by this test can tag an individual for life. I'm against such testing unless authorized by a doctor. Because of the type of data this test generates, it should be federally subsidized to offset the need of Insurance companies to pay for its administration and thereby, creating a document that could be accessed by the general public.

    Most people are not aware that by signing the Hepa paper work at the hospital or doctors office, they are actually giving their rights away under the Federally mandated HEPA laws. This is a path to public domain.

    I seriously doubt the average soccer mom/dad is aware of the legal ramifications of allowing a school to administer this test to their child. I further doubt the school will inform her/him and educate them on the matter.
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    Jul 2 2013: Thank you Fritze.

    Is there some type of test that will reveal the nature of a child's mind? That is, can we detect a possible Hitler, a Mussolini, a Serial Killer while they are still children?

    It can be frightening when you read a bio on some killer or bomber and discover you have a lot in common. Even more frightening, is that you have entertained in your mind the same idea. To think that unwavering rationalization is all that prevents oneself from developing the same type of pathogenic thoughts can be sobering.
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      Jul 2 2013: I have no expertise in this area. I think from your own observation you might suspect than any instrument would yield many false positives that could be very damaging to the child, depending on how those privvy to the data acted on them.
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        Jul 2 2013: Yes, I agree.

        With further study, I discovered many people who's lives were destroyed by this/these tests. There is a whole publishing industry pushing them on companies, Education systems, security companies, the list is long and growing. The data base of names also. Pretty soon no one will have to contact the police department to know everything about their neighbors. But, this is for another topic.
        Thanks for looking Fritzy.

        I joined Luminosity, for fun. Have you any experience with them and children using their gaming theories for increased cognitive skills? I took one course and absorbed all of the entirety of The field of Artificial intelligence in two days. It was mind blowing. I'm ready to write the Sentient-Program. As a side benefit, it gives you a broader sense of humor.
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          Jul 3 2013: I have no experience with Lumosity, though I have seen it promoted on Big Think. I will look at it.
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    Jul 2 2013: I hear a lot about prodigies, but what about late bloomers?

    In most biographies written about Albert Einstein it is said he learned to speak at a late age and didn’t read until he was seven. Thomas Edison, Isaac Newton, and Winston Churchill also had trouble early on in school. Countless others, famous or not, were/are perceived as being "slow" in their early childhood years.Yet, they went on to accomplish amazing things later in life. Should we continue to focus on the general population to find Prodigies or is the very word limited to just young children?
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      Jul 2 2013: John, If I were to follow up on your question I would have three classes 1) early bloomers 2) Late bloomers and my category 3) blooming idiots. I finally made it into the majority.

      See ya. Bob.
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    Jul 1 2013: I had a high IQ once and look where it got me.
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      Jul 2 2013: Yeah mike, you still look very young for 10+ years of age. :)

      I don't know, I enjoy your intelligence from time to time.

      Surly that has some value for you?
  • Jul 1 2013: I have thought about this question a lot. I think if you visit Caltech, MIT, or RHIT you will find a lot of kids that have greater than 1300 on SATs and probably more than 120 IQ points. They tend to do well in life, but there are other supporting characteristics that need to be developed at the same time.

    These kids need to all learn how to work hard, be disciplined, be diligent, and mature into adults that are good citizens. This can be difficult, because with great intelligence comes other issues like quickly becoming bored, large egos, and the inability of the "average" school experience from being anything but tortuous for them.

    For both parent and teachers that recognize the gift, the question then becomes 'How do you nurture it and develop it, while still teaching the child right from wrong, hard work, etc?' You become concerned about what might be stifling or channeling the ideas and thoughts into preformed biases.

    Gifted kids also often hate the word "gifted" because the expectations of parents seem to become unbounded and guess what? They still need the same emotional and personal nurturing and praise as other kids. There are exceptions. The few Motzarts of the world seem to follow their own path.

    Does a high IQ really measure intelligence? Something I like to bring up in these discussions is Gardner's discussion on multiple intelligences. This wiki has a nice snapshot of general intelligence and Gardner's categories.

    Interesting note, in some high tech professions, the genius or even the 4.0 GPA guy is not sought after by organizations where good teamwork is essential. They wind up being aloof, not good team players, and often do more group harm than good.

    Solo careers or independent problem!
  • Jul 1 2013: I do not know a statistically insignificant number of people not a lot but........................... You quated a general statement not a discussion of some odd-ball fields like the physical sciences or mathematics. It sounds like the old our leaders are smart. We've seen some that obviously weren't. What do you think Fritzie?
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      Jul 1 2013: I think some of what you meant to type in posing your question to me did not end up in your post. Could you look back at your post and see what I mean?
      • Jul 1 2013: Good point Fritzie I just did not articulate well, but I believe that they are talking about life and academia in general What I am suggesting is that the 120 on whatever scale is not true for all disciplines. Just as I am suggesting that the honors program is not a randomized selection of students in academia. I hope I've done better. It is well known that the Ivy League colleges consider the disciplines of their students in admission. See the cartoon series Millard Fillmore. Isn't it great to be able to cite a cartoon duck? How often does it get that good? Of course, they also have legacies.
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          Jul 1 2013: Yes, you are right. I wasn't going into the details. The "threshold" identified in the research is lower for great achievement in the arts.
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    Jul 1 2013: Lamar, those problems he had were childhood problems that don't necessarily indicate he will turn into the Unabomber. There are no tests that can predicte the future. The data don't line up.
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        Jul 2 2013: I don't know LaMar, sounds kinda invasive to me.

        I don't think schools are allowed to do that kind of testing to students in Georgia. We tend to shy away from such Federalist activities.

        I'm actually going to contact a friend or two and ask them about that. I'll let you know what I find. I think we can ask Fritize. I think she is involved in education in some capacity.

        Fritzie? Are you listening?
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          Jul 2 2013: Normal practice is that a teacher or administrator who notices "red flag" sort of behaviors of any kind would bring it to the school counselor. The school counselor can evaluate the student through conversation to determine whether something seems to be amiss with the child.

          Some buildings have regular meetings of counseling staff and health personnel to discuss cases that might need some unusual support- beyond what the counselor can offer. At this point a meeting with parent or guardian will likely follow.

          In cases in which child abuse is suspected, teachers and counselors are mandatory reporters to CPS. I believe this is true in all states.
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      Jul 1 2013: There is something wrong with this list. For example, there is a young man on our site who participates only occasionally whose IQ is toward the high end of the range described but evidently not known to the compilers of this list.

      In any case, these data confirm the finding that gifted kids do not necessarily accomplish more striking things in or by adulthood than those not classified as of superior intelligence.
  • Jul 1 2013: IQ scores on one test may not mean exactly the same as the same on another. OItis, California, Stanford -Bener,and Cattelll. But I've rarely seem a person with a old SAT of under 1300 earn a physics degree. So much for the 120 IQ thing Fritzie. On Cattell that 1300 SAT is well above 120. Every now and then you will see a story on point, but at what do we look. There are so few real thought leaders in any field. I doubt there are very few low IQ people who have given us paradigm shifts. In fact, there are very few people who have given us paradigm shifts, but most of them have certain personalities, high IQ's, and good EQ's wouldn't hurt. Reread Thirty Years that Shook Physics by George Gamow. This is a collection of undoubted geniuses with high IQ's and varying personalities. Then there is always the Mathematician Poincare laboring by himself or all the people who knew John van Newman. So much to think about so little thought. Probably it's like baseball or football at some point in a competitive environment when you are left behind .... you are gone forever. So the high IQ is necessary to play but there are no guarantees.
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      Jul 1 2013: I don't think your knowing few people with SATs under 1300 to get physics degrees is a very powerful counterargument/counter-evidence to the existing research in this area.
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    Jul 1 2013: I believe this gifted child is still in prison: Ted Kaczynski the unabomber.

    Wikipedia has some good info on him:
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        Jul 1 2013: Yes LaMar, the time I was in Jail, I noticed that most of the inmates were very smart. I once played chess with a gang leader that could carry on multiple conversations with people while playing three games at a time, very fast. It was very intimidating. He couldn't read.

        TEd was mad at the world for infringing on his space LaMar. His bombing were in retaliation for the modern world putting a road through his favorite hiking area. He was what is called a Luddite, someone who is a saboteur and fights against the encroaching of technology on the natural earth.

        As to the test identifying such people. Ted didn't take a turn for the worst till late in his life. I don't think such tests would have identified him in his early years.

        I'm against behavior modification techniques unless everyone agrees to follow the same rules of behavior and everyone is tested and modified. No exclusions.
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      Jul 1 2013: Hi again, John.

      I read about every murderer I could find on wikipedia once after a terrorist, a disocial person from nearby did something horrible.

      Thats just where I live. I do not think he was gifted, just antisocial and just greedy, I made comments about this in a different conversation, you can still find it, it was on guns.

      Here are some different perspectives, if you're interested:
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        Jul 1 2013: Yes Anna Kazcorowska, I remember the case. It set my PTSD in motion for a few months.I don't think he was gifted either. He did have a well thought out plan, but his mental distortions put him squarly in the limelight. He was a sick puppy.I think I read your conversation on Guns but perhaps you could point me to it with a link. I'd like to reread it.
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    Jul 1 2013: Interesting question Robert.

    Back in 1988, I was on the internet and had a very strange conversation with some kid I met on a chat channel. He/she said that their were about 30 of them all living in a government building. They were happy and healthy and very very smart. I asked about their parents but the channel fell.

    It made me wonder. Children with well above average intelligence are a nations most treasured poducts. I've heard stories about how the school system keeps track of them through out their education and how they are pointed in the right directions. I was hovered over and guided by my teachers thoughout my middle school years. I quit school after the tenth grade because of a girl. :)

    It was a hard road after that.

    I was at a sailing marinia one night and about four, black, SUV's drove up to the Tiki bar. Some guys got out, spread out and searched the place, even the bathrooms. Another SUV, blue with airforce insignias dove in and parked. A bunch of the youngest troops I've ever seen got out, about 12 of them. I swear the oldest, whom I talked with, was 19, an officer and in charge of the others who looked to range from 16 to 18.

    We talked a lot . These kids were the Air Forces Cyber warfare team. I won't say what base this was at. I was impressed with these kids (they were all in Air Force Unifoms, jump suits).

    The one bit of conversaton that stuck with me was the comment that, they don't get out very much.
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    Jul 1 2013: There is a lot of research on this question, Bob. While there have been some famous child prodigies who made great contributions, Mozart as an example, most often they reach a place earlier than their peers but do not make earth-shattering discoveries and contributions in adulthood. Super-high intelligence and creativity/inventiveness are not highly correlated. For example, once a person has an IQ of about 120, which isn't typically considered gifted, any additional points above that score make no difference in creativity.(I can find you a reference for this).

    Typically they do just fine, though.

    The designation"gifted" is commonly applied to a very broad range of people. Only the extremely high end have trouble fitting in with many, many others in adulthood.

    There can be tracking in college in the sense of students separating out into honors programs. Some students are admitted specifically into honors programs from high school, some take honors versions of courses, and some choose to write an honors thesis. These pathways are not limited, though, to someone who was labeled gifted in k12. There are certainly later bloomers as well as gifted kids who develop non-academic interests that attract them more. One could also consider admission to elite schools as a sort of tracking, but that depends not on how they may have been labeled starting in first grade but rather what they have demonstrated they can do with their gifts. It's about application and apparent intellectual vitality.

    Some gifted kids benefit from guidance throughout their childhood that helps them cultivate their talents without burning out. On the other hand, some well-meaning adults push gifted kids in a way that stifles their intrinsic motivation. This can turn out badly. Some praise kids too much for smartness, when a growth mindset would be more productive.

    So it varies.

    (Harvard will be a great place to study particle physics).
    • Jul 1 2013: Intelligence is not enough, but it's quite necessary. The real difference though, is persistence. It's the idea that since everything has been developed by people, I should be able to do some great stuff as well, and then work hard and smart. But intelligence with no passion does not work. Persistence alone does not work either. But I agree with you. Above 120 is enough. Then loads and loads of persistence, and we have something good brewing.
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        Jul 1 2013: You are right. The point in my bringing forward what research indicates on this is just to say that the gifted, or the highly gifted, are not more likely to make creative, innovative contributions than the bright but not gifted.
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          Jul 1 2013: Fritzie, One of the reasons I brought this conversation on board is that the lists seem to all differ. In the US a few years ago we had Marilyn Vos Savant who had appearances on all shows, a newspaper column "Ask Marilyn", books etc because she was determined by the book of records to be the highest female IQ on record at 210. She is not on any lists. The highest IQ ever measured is attributed to Michael Kearney at 235 ... he was not on any other lists I reviewed. Included in the Kearney article was that he is a bar bouncer ... LOL.

          One of the common factors for almost everyone on any lists is the ability in math. After that I see little in common.

          I was disappointed that my name never showed up on any list .... guess that I must go through life as just ole "average Bob".

          Thanks for the replies. Average Bob
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          Jul 1 2013: I think everyone in the conversation understands that IQ is only an "indicator" of intelligence rather than a precise measure. I don't think the fact that there is a range for any person biases the measurement of effect in empirical work. Even if the measurement error were heteroskedactic, which is to say correlated with the variable (which you don't claim here), the measurement of effect would not be biased- only the measurement of the variance. Bart could chime in with more up-to-date recollections.

          I think it is also well understood by now that IQ is not static and can increase or decrease depending on a variety of factors.
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          Jul 1 2013: I think what the research says is that in large-sample-based statistical work, increases in IQ that start below that number- say a difference between 90 and 100, does have a difference in the likelihood of noteworthy creative achievement but that differences such as the difference between 120 and 130 or 150 and 160 does not.