Gifted students: individual differences between children of extraordinary intelligence

What characteristics define the gifted girl or boy?

We can say, in general, that his intellectual development is always more advanced than expected for his age. For example, while most children are still able to say a few words a year and a half after birth, a talented child has a repertoire of words twice as large or three times as large when they reach that age group.

Gifted Students: What Factors Make a Child Highly Capable?

When the talented child starts school, what you notice is essentially: quick thinking, an ease in creating much more elaborate answers, and a very good use of information. These children may need appropriate educational strategies, as they may hide their talent in a normative classroom, get bored or drop out of class. For this and many other questions, we could ask the following questions: What are the guarantees of being part of the gifted students? Is a talented child a successful adult?

Not necessarily.

contextual variables

There are some variables that need to be taken into account in the context that each child may have. On the one hand support (Or lack thereof) by their parents, legal guardians or relatives. There are cases where the family does not support them, devaluing studying and investing time in studies and stressing the need to bring home a salary at the end of the month. This can cause the child to put his talent aside and focus on doing what his parents ask him to do. The school may ignore the talent, which causes the child not to receive a proper education and the child to be bored and drop out of class. Or, the friendly environment can cause the child to hide their abilities through the teasing, Which could even trigger a dynamic of intimidation.

Economic circumstances in which the person is familiar also play an important role. There are families who cannot finance their children’s studies because their financial situation does not allow them whatever the work of both parents and there are certain grants or grants. Therefore, the child will have to adapt to the situation, and his talent will not be able to develop as one would expect.

Finally, there are other variables to highlight such as the opportunities that life offers to everyone, or their own health.

Analyze real cases

All of the above is reflected in a study conducted by Melita Oden with Terman, in 1968, where the 100 most successful men and the 100 least successful men in a group were compared; define success as celebration of occupations which required his intellectual gifts. The most successful included professors, scientists, doctors and lawyers. The failures included electronics, technicians, police, carpenters and pool cleaners, as well as bankrupt lawyers, doctors and academics. The study concluded that success and failure hardly differed in average IQ. In any case, the differences between them turned out to be in confidence, persistence and the principles of parental encouragement.

Smart kids and parenting

When talking about intelligent children, the main criterion focuses on IQ and academic environments, but we must also take into account the factors socio-emotional. In the study conducted by Terman and Melita, we can see a clear bias in the sample as it is only the university population. Terman ended up becoming a convinced geneticist, but did not take into account the historical variables of the moment like war etc. Many subjects died there, others from alcoholism, suicide … factors related to socio-emotional characteristics.

Alencar and Fleith (2001) have pointed out a lower importance given to emotional development due to the hegemony of educational plans little focused on strengthening a positive self-concept and promoting social development. They also noted that the vast majority of papers submitted so far on the topic were unrelated to socio-emotional development. Terman, however, recognized that children with an IQ greater than 170 presented difficulties in social adjustment, being viewed by their teachers as isolation (Burks, Jensen and Terman, (1930), Gross (2002)).)

Emotional vulnerability has also been found, in reference to the ability of these students to understand and engage in ethical and philosophical issues, before emotional maturity develops to resolve these issues (Hollingworth, 1942).

Gifted students and school expectations

As external agents, we can observe how students with more intellectual capacities are likely to suffer from what Terrassier called the “negative Pygmalion effect”. This happens when, having gifted students who have more potential than teachers, teachers tend to expect these young people to perform in the average range and then encourage some students to perform well below their ability. real (Terrassier, 1981).

Finally, it is worth mentioning a study carried out on the detection of gifted students, In which the structures of the implicit theories of the intelligence of educators were analyzed and the relationship between the same and the beliefs on the identification of gifted students. Educators who value creativity as an important attribute of intelligence tend to favor more than one method of identifying gifted students.

In contrast, educators who supported the use of intelligence tests as the primary basis for identifying talent generally agreed that the analytical ability it was part of the structure of intelligence (García-Cepero, et al, 2009).

Bibliographical references:

  • Alencar, EMLS and Fleith, DS (2001). Softness: determinants, education and adaptation. São Paulo: EPU.
  • Garcia-Cepero, MC and McCoach, D. B (2009). Implicit theories of educators on intelligence and beliefs about identifying gifted students. Universitas Psychologica 8 (2) 295-310.
  • Terman. LM and Oden, MH (1959). Genetic studies of engineering. Flight. V. The gifted with half-life: thirty-five years of follow-up of the superior child. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.
  • Terrassier, JC (1981/2004). Gifted children or shameful precocity (6th ed.). Paris, ESF.

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