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Gifted vs High Learning Potential

(31 Posts)
chillikate Thu 09-May-13 10:09:35

I've been in here a lot since my DS was about 3, and I must admit I find it can be very negative. Comments like "your child can't be gifted because my child was doing that and so much more at his age" are completely unhelpful.

Parents search out this forum because something has happened that has made them question their child abilities - not because they want to boast or brag.

Interestingly PPUK have not only changed their name but have also changed their own terminology believing that the word "gifted" is misunderstood and outdated. Personally I think that "High Learning Potential" far better fits my own son and lots of other children whose parents come here looking for advice.

Please lets just help each other and not turn it into a boasting match. People come here because they need help & advice.

cory Thu 09-May-13 15:10:03

I don't think it's always wanting to put other parents down. Often it is in response to an OP that suggests that if their (often very young) child is gifted, this is something terribly worrying that requires a great deal of expert handling. The responses to that kind of post tend to focus on three undeniable truths:

a) It is very early to decide if an 18mo is gifted or not, so you may be worrying prematurely.

b) Plenty of highly gifted children do not suffer from social problems, disruptiveness or boredom, so you may be worrying prematurely.

c) Normal family life is actually rather interesting and stimulating even for a highly gifted toddler. You don't have to be an expert in education or spend a fortune to provide stimulation. So you may be worrying prematurely.

I don't see this as putting people down.

treas Thu 09-May-13 19:20:54

Actually, Op I tend to agree with you - some of the responses on this section are very disparaging and sneery.

I have always disliked the term 'gifted' it seems so pretentious, intelligent or advanced might be better descriptions.

lljkk Thu 09-May-13 19:47:04

I don't mind the term gifted.
Agree this topic can be quite bitchy.
High Learning Potential sounds like gobbledigook.
High Achiever or High potential would be okay.
Don't really care.
But I don't like "bright". my children are not lightbulbs. grin

Iluvportobay Fri 10-May-13 12:25:25

Name change for this one - says it all really!

As usual, Chillikate, you speak a lot of sense. Quite honestly, I would rather 'stick pins in my eyes' than talk about my DCs abilities and it would be a very sad person who received any real gratification by boasting on line with a bunch of strangers. I always think that willingness to boast about abilities is actually inversely related to said abilities. Nevertheless, sometimes it is necessary to give some insight as to background, when asking for advice and this is invariably seen as boasting on here.

Often the most negative posts come from teachers. Fair enough if posters are saying 'my kid is reading her name at 3 is that gifted?', but most posters are talking about children who are doing far more than this. I am still laughing about the teacher who described my DD as 'average', we already had ed psych results and those comments said far more about the teacher than DD. Moving to the private sector, DD went on to score 100% in prep school exams, across 4 or 5 subjects just a few months later and I was met by the headmaster at the school gate and he said 'we need to ensure DD meets her amazing potential'. The Headmaster had already talked to us about DD perhaps trying for one the most selective schools in the country, which is local to us, because they also specialise in one of DDs emerging extra curricular interests. We simply were not aware of this and had we not known better and believed the 'your child is average' comment we would never have considered the school for DD. I knew she was in safe hands, otherwise I would have been on here saying 'how can someone get 100%, she is not being challenged appropriately or the exams were set at the wrong level'! That would not have been a boast - but a real worry, when we have had to pay for private education.

I agree with the 'Plenty of highly gifted children do not suffer from social problems, disruptiveness or boredom' but if there are absolutely no problems, no issues to discuss then there is no need to network with like-minded peers and most people would not bother to search out this forum.

The truth is that MANY parents of high potential DC will notice things that are unusual along the way, there may be unusual behavioural problems, albeit often 'just a phase', parenting styles may need to be adapted and many of us will have difficulties with the education system, which by definition, is not set up to cater for the child who sits at the 99th or 99.9 percentile, in the same way it is not set up to support the child who sits at below the 5th percentile.

I also hate the term 'bright', to me it seems un PC and I was shocked to see this appears to be the favoured term on school reports. Neither do I like the term 'gifted' - high IQ is no more a 'gift' than blonde/curly hair/blue eyes may be perceived to be. High learning potential does sound like gobbledigook but it 'does what it says on the tin', these children do not have high potential necessarily, they have a high ability/potential to learn.

We have received good support from NAGC/high potential plus.

Maybe we should set up a yahoo group - or is there already one?

Wow - steps off soapbox and goes off to do the hoovering.......

cory Sat 11-May-13 19:30:09

"I agree with the 'Plenty of highly gifted children do not suffer from social problems, disruptiveness or boredom' but if there are absolutely no problems, no issues to discuss then there is no need to network with like-minded peers and most people would not bother to search out this forum."

That is very true of parents with older children. But if you read this forum over a period of time you will find that quite a few posters are parents of very young children, who are not yet in a position to know whether there will be problems or not: some of them seem to assume that the giftedness they have observed in their children will automatically lead to problems in the future. I think there is a big risk of self-fulfilling prophecies here.

WastedTomatoGuts Sat 25-May-13 22:16:20

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

himagain Mon 04-May-15 15:54:44

i think bad behaved gifted children may just be asserting their authority over a load of dumb adults and peers

CamelHump Mon 04-May-15 15:59:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

var123 Mon 04-May-15 16:21:39

I think things have changed inthe last year or two. It used to be as described in the OP, but not so much any more.

The only exception is when someone is asking about a baby or toddler. (eg their potato paintings are dali-esque! )

Generally though Ive found everyone helpful and supportive when Ive asked for advice.

Wailywailywaily Fri 08-May-15 20:52:57

I do tend to avoid the posts about babies and toddlers. I certainly knew mine were gifted and talented when they were babies smile

I was really wary when I first started to lurk here and suspected that it was all stealth boasting but as I have got to recognise some regular posters I have found it more and more helpful.

Mistigri Sun 10-May-15 07:53:14

I don't think messing with the language of giftedness really changes the underlying problem, which is that (a) any discussion of intellectual ability necessarily risks looking like you are bragging and/or being a bit pfb ;) - but that shouldn't stop you having that discussion as long as you choose an appropriate place for it and (b) children who are gifted/have high learning potential/ whatever are as different from each other as they are from less able children, so the benefits of grouping them under a single "banner" are questionable. Some have problems (often stemming not from the giftedness itself, but from particular learning or behavioural issues). Others don't. It's difficult to know in advance but the more you anticipate problems, the more you risk creating them.

I object to the high learning potential label on the grounds that it's a nonsense (all human beings have high learning potential, compared with all other mammals). Gifted has the benefit of being succinct, obvious and at least outside the UK having a common definition (IQ at least two standard deviations above the average).

JustRichmal Sun 10-May-15 09:41:54

Potential is a possibility of what a child could attain. Without the education it may not be realised. The flip side of this is children with less initial potential could realise more of their ability with better education. If a child is in the top 10% of the class, I would say it is not possible to separate out what portion of that is due to genes or what portion is due to being taught more. Still. both get labelled gifted in the present system. I do not know what my dd's initial learning potential was, I only care that I have helped her make the most of it.

The only reason I dislike any label is it may put off any parent or child from trying to attain, because they have been labelled with a mediocre learning potential. I would much rather a child had the attitude of the potential of succeeding than the attitude of why bother when they're not in that 10% with their magical gifted label and so will never be really any good.

I also think if people were posting "I was able to teach my 2 year old to count to 100", I would be more sympathetic, but these feats of amazing toddler achievement are always presented as something the toddler has gleaned from the ether through the power of their amazing intellect alone.

Also the number of health workers whose jaws drop at the sight of these genius children would raise serious concerns about the state of the NHS. My health visitor just used to check dd's health. The subject of dd's intellect never arouse.

Lastly intelligence itself is not an affliction. The child may have other problems, just the same as other children may.

PiqueABoo Sun 10-May-15 22:27:37

"Gifted has the benefit of being succinct"

Agreed, but there is a lot of embedded hostility in English (state) education to any term indicating relative ability, especially "gifted". With that in mind it was quite interesting to see Hunt revive the words "gifted and talented" via some largely worthless political gesture shortly before the general election.

Perhaps we should start talking about percentiles because they're very difficult to argue with. Well unless you understand error bars etc., in which case you're much less likely to be arguing about terminology.

" it may put off any parent or child from trying to attain"

They might also decide they'll put up a fierce fight to defy expectations. DD is like that i.e. if I want to motivate her then one very good way is to suggest that something is currently too difficult for her because she's too young or something.

It very clearly suits anti-intellectual ideologues to focus on labels, but I think they are a very minor bit-player next to the majority of secondary school children being repeatedly told what they are expected to attain courtesy of their targets, tracking and "flight paths" etc.

"outside the UK having a common definition (IQ at least two standard deviations above the average)."

The problem with 2SD is that's roughly the top 2% and assuming DD's eight-form entry school had a perfect distribution, might mean four children and I doubt that is enough weight of numbers to get the school doing anything much. Not that some do anything much when they use the local top 10%.

var123 Mon 11-May-15 05:49:06

I think the health visitors with the dropping jaws, are, in reality, health visitors who can think of nothing useful to say when invited to marvel at a PFB's accomplishments!

Experience has probably taught them to not contradict.

About the terminology ... I don't really care what they call it, as long as they get on with dealing with it! My concern is that debates about how best to collectively describe more able / gifted /HLP/ clever/ bright children simply gives the people who should be working out how to best educate them an excuse to waste time debating appropriate terminology.

mummytime Mon 11-May-15 05:57:20

As far as I understand "bright" doesn't equal gifted, but just stands for normally clever. In a school lots of children are "bright" much fewer are gifted.

var123 Mon 11-May-15 06:11:22

Its all about perspective, isn't it? From my perspective, i can see that my children are both very bright. They were tested and depending on exactly what type of intelligence was being tested, they were in the top 15% through to off the scale. I don't really know how good they are, but I do know that school doesn't challenge them at all in the subjects in which they excel. I would not call them gifted but only because I think of that as sounding rather egotistical.

However, its all just a name and it doesn't begin to address the important stuff.

tenderbuttons Mon 11-May-15 08:16:27

I actually do thing the terminology makes a difference. The use of the phrase G&T for the top ten percent has really muddied the waters, because the needs of the top 10% are very different from the needs of the gifted, if you take that definition of two standard deviations or above. So now there isn't a word to use to describe that population, and a school will go 'oh we have g&t provision, which isn't necessarily what that smaller group need.

I do actually think that standard deviations are the way to go, not least because they take IQ numbers out of the equation. So one standard deviiation is mummytime's bright. Two standard deviations is gifted. Three is where it gets difficult. I have seen an American document which actually sets this out quite well in terms of the accommodations that are appropriate for each SD, and it's interesting reading. Two standard deviations, and a teacher should be able to cope by setting extra work. Three, and you are looking at skipping (or a dedicated gifted classroom or selective school). By four you are looking at individualised orovision, and five they basically say, yiou are doomed, homeschool them. But what that gives you is the sense that not all gifted children remotely resemble each other, and what works for one child may not work for another.

PiqueABoo. One thing they have in America is gifted magnet schools, where the gifted population in a particular area is all sent to one school, so that provision is possible. But here we have selection by wealth - many private schools will deal well with the gifted, but if you can't afford that choices ar much more limited.

Mistigri Mon 11-May-15 19:49:21

I think that there is definitely an increased likelihood that children will need special provision as you move further from the norm, but I don't think very high IQs are necessarily incompatible with mainstream education. DD's IQ is in the +3SD range, and her verbal reasoning abilities were above the ceiling of the usual tests. She is doing well in a normal French comprehensive school which offers little in the way of differentiation (has skipped one year). If anything, school has been more difficult for her brother who is bright but not exceptionally so.

From what I've seen, bright girls with strong verbal reasoning abilities tend to do well in mainstream schools regardless of how exceptionally able they are. It is much more difficult for boys (perhaps because academic excellence is less easy to cope with for boys generally), for children who have uneven abilities (eg maths and science kid who struggles with writing), and for children who are gifted but also learning disabled (eg dyslexic). It helps if there are other very able students, in order to maintain motivation - dd is exceptionally fortunate to be in a class with two other girls who are extremely able.

jaws5 Thu 14-May-15 11:25:29

tenderbuttons and Mistigri, I completely agree with you! the term G&T as used by schools does very little for children who are more than two or more standard deviations away... it focuses on the 10% brightest, most of whom are one standard deviation. Boys in particular with an IQ of 130+ can find it difficult, especially if there is something else like dyslexia complicating things -- and it's surprisingly common how often these two go together. This is the problem I have encountered with my son, and he doesn't even qualify for the G&T program at primary school because his written work is not good enough. He is top 1% in ability, but dyslexic. He is definitely very different from the top group of "bright" children in his class, and I am aware that he's much more challenging for the teacher and the bright kids are a joy to teach.

Mistigri Thu 14-May-15 11:58:33

jaws yes I am convinced that more needs to be done for children in your son's situation who fall between the gaps on both fronts - too bright to qualify for proper SN provision but too dyslexic to get into G&T programs.

Children like my daughter need very little in the way of extra help other than being in a classroom in which it is possible for teachers to get in with teaching, and a supportive school environment that prevents bright kids being marginalized.

var123 Thu 14-May-15 13:51:31

I also agree that school G&T does very little for those who are 2sd from the mean. It doesn't even try to help them.

However, I'd add that it does very little for anyone at all since the funding was cut (in 2008?). Maybe it didn't do much before then either, I don't know about that.

Wasn't the G&T scheme originally invented so that the state system could compete with the independent sector for the very high ability pupils? If I remember the history correctly, the teachers were supposed to identify the top 5% and use the funding to provide them with opportunities that the high abilities meant the children would be able to benefit.

Then the department of education did a review and found the G&T scheme was not working as expected. So, they broadened the range to the top 10%. Then they left it alone for a few years before withdrawing funding.

That's what I remember reading once but if someone knows better, I'd be happy to be corrected.

If the whole G&T scheme were scrapped today though, and replaced by a scheme to identify the children who are 1sd and at least 2sd from the mean, and then devise an education for them that would develop their abilities, then I'd be all in favour. However, I think that's been tried too... it was the 11+ and grammar school system which was once widespread and now only exists in a few small pockets of England. It would be a very unpopular move, politically, to bring it back.

One of the criticisms of the grammar system was that there were false negatives and false positives when the children were tested at age 11. If you do want to test to find those with the highest potential though, then the tests have to be universal and there has to be some agreed point to do it.

(sorry very long post).

Mistigri Thu 14-May-15 16:09:42

Grammar schools were never about identifying the top 2-3% though - more like the top 10-15%. I took the 11+ in 1975, was in selective classes throughout, yet I was bored rigid for most of secondary school.

My DD's comprehensive actually seem to be doing a better job of engaging her!

jaws5 Thu 14-May-15 17:59:20

The thing is, I'm not sure my son would shine at a grammar school... what I think he needs is a different teaching/learning method, focused on brainstorming and creativity that then connects with the traditional foundations of education, not the other way round.... I don't know if it exists!

var123 Thu 14-May-15 18:03:15

jaws5 - Its certainly not mainstream, if it does exist.

I know grammar's didn't take the top 2% alone, but being in a class of the top 20% say (or even the top 10%) has got to be better than a mixed ability class?

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