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Gifted adults

(46 Posts)
missmem Mon 08-Jun-09 14:46:39

Does anyone have kids who were exceptionally gifted who are now adults. Did they actually go on to do anything amazing or get paid a fortune or are they now just average?

GrapefruitMoon Mon 08-Jun-09 14:52:45

My kids are still kids but I do have a sibling who would probably be classed as gifted nowadays. I don't think she gets paid a fortune but probably gets to do work which is very interesting (to her!) - without revealing too much she works in sort of an academic field but not in a university...

Ime, many people who are "gifted" don't necessarily make a lot of money or reach lofty heights in their careers - I know of a couple who have but very often they have quite "ordinary" jobs and are not likely to become famous in their field...

missmem Mon 08-Jun-09 14:57:10

So that begs the question...

What's the point of getting stressed out about how gifted a child if they just end up like everyone else?

GrapefruitMoon Mon 08-Jun-09 15:03:41

I will probably upset a few people by saying this but I suspect that a lot of people who are erm pushy about these things are in some way insecure about their own abilities or feel they could have done better at school if they had been stretched more, etc.

Most people who have direct experience of truly gifted child will know that it is very much a poisoned chalice.

I would far rather have an "average' child who is happy than a gifted one who is not....

GooseyLoosey Mon 08-Jun-09 15:14:29

The very small number of very, very clever people I have known have all gone on to become accademics. Oddly none of them are in fields which are likely to generate great discoveries. They do very esoteric research in to little known subject areas. However, although they get paid little, they are genuinely happy and interested in what they do which I guess I would see as a greater reward than being rich.

DadAtLarge Mon 08-Jun-09 15:44:27

"What's the point of getting stressed out about how gifted a child if they just end up like everyone else? "
Because unless you get stressed out about it you may not get your child the attention s/he needs - the school system is very geared towards ignoring them.

cory Tue 09-Jun-09 08:00:42

My parents were not pushy as such and did not talk much about clever I was, but they did think I had an unusual gift for languages and they made sure I had all the learning opportunities I needed. I didn't particularly need that from the school, which was just as well as I was in a school system with no differentiation between abilities.

I have not become rich or famous, but I am known in my own small academic sphere and I am very happy doing research in a rather specialised area, so I certainly don't feel my talent has been wasted (except for what I fritter away myself on Mumsnet).
To a lot of academically bent people it is more satisfying to be the expert on a particular area than to earn lots of money (the best paid academic jobs tend to be the ones that involve a lot of administration and not so much research).

sarah293 Tue 09-Jun-09 08:19:14

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iheartdusty Tue 09-Jun-09 08:37:13

but surely the idea is to help gifted children (indeed all children) to reach their potential? To help them understand the world to their best abilities, to 'stretch' their intellectual 'muscles', and simply to do their best for its own sake?

I think it is a different question whether they become well paid or do something that the rest of the world thinks is 'amazing'. It is well known that behind most extraordinary discoveries lies a chain of people working on similar things, some of whom become well known and some completely unknown. Being well paid IMO is more to do with the money in a particular sector (city traders and their bonuses vs brilliant underfunded researchers?)

anyway, I also think that it is equally as important that gifted children get help in developing their emotional intelligence along with their other talents. That's the best way to be fulfilled and 'successful' in life.

sarah293 Tue 09-Jun-09 08:45:01

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RealityIsMyOnlyDelusion Tue 09-Jun-09 08:48:58

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NationalFlight Tue 09-Jun-09 08:53:24

Ok presuming OP isn't just having a dig at people who think their child is gifted...

I'll answer from the perspective of an adult who grew up fairly gifted and has reach some spectacularly dizzy lows.

The point is, that if a child is gifted, they will have a need for extra support and also (unbelievably) protective strategies to prevent nastiness and bullying from among others, their teachers, from making their lives a hell on earth.

I was bullied by teachers and regarded as strange by other children. I was pushed into performing while all the time being utterly terrified of it - this compounded the stress tenfold.

I dropped out of school after consistent underachievement, and my projected 'career' never even started...here I am at 35 on benefits with two small children and no husband, no job, no confidence.

And I still get bullied for being too clever.

Do you see where I am going with this? It's not just a showing off thing, being gifted, It's a condition and unless you have adequate support you are looking at a lot of unhappiness.

NationalFlight Tue 09-Jun-09 08:54:51

Cross posted! <gives Reality a big hug> smile

I still cringe thinking how I can't admit to my IQ without looking like a complete twat.

cory Tue 09-Jun-09 09:26:10

I am not sure it's always a condition; it definitely is for some people but not for all. I was admittedly bullied at primary and secondary school, but I can't say that has affected me in any way later in life. Grown up people are just so much nicer smile.

(I do hope the other bullying victim- a boy who was bullied because he simply wasn't very bright- found the same when he grew up. )

Once I got to uni I found people just like me (or even weirder grin). I don't as an adult think of myself as socially unsuccessful. And I notice that some of the most outstanding academics in my field do seem very gregarious and are clearly socially successful.

tbh apart from keeping the bullies off my back a bit more (which they should have done for all victims regardless of giftedness), I'm not sure there is all that much my school could have done.

To me, there is a bit of a contradiction in terms between "not getting stretched" and "reading all the time". Reading all the time is how I was stretched. With my own library card from an early age, I knew I would always have access to a world of entertainment and challenge that could never give out. And my parents had a well stocked library of their own and never supervised my reading- it was brilliant smile

NationalFlight Tue 09-Jun-09 09:37:54

That's true Cory, I was just venting really...it can be a 'condition' in that it is often a result of AS or similar (as in my case) but also can be just what it is...I suppose I meant it does require a specific kind of handling, in order for it to be a good thing.

DadAtLarge Tue 09-Jun-09 09:54:21

Reality and NationalFlight, my story is very similar. As I've posted elsewhere on here, I was considered gifted in school but ended up being really bored. I got disruptive, set new records for truancy, started smoking at 12, started drugs at 13 ... and it went downhill from there. I left school at 16 and, after a spell of homelessless and other problems, I eventually picked myself up and sorted myself out. I went into business, found interesting and challenging work and am happy with what I do today. It was a long struggle though.

I have a DS who's gifted in maths and who loves working with numbers. No, he has a passion for it! It really annoys me when the bleeding hearts come out to argue he should be given no encouragement ("because" there are disadvantaged kids out there). Worse, they argue that any special provision made for him or any catering for this keen interest of his is "making jack a dull boy". They'd have him sit in the class and do his one times tables all week long.

Not all gifted children go off the rails if not provided for adequately, some just take it in their stride and have perfectly "normal" lives. But the risks are very real here: don't provide enough stimulation for the gifted and they are far more likely to have behaviour and other problems. It takes a particularly ignorant teacher to argue that no gifted children have any "special needs".

People often get lost in the argument of whether it's the top 10% or 1% or 0.01%... but that's not what's important: it's finding the really gifted (rather than just the clever) and monitoring them to see if they have special needs. It's not so they can go on to make a fortune or cure cancer; for many gifted children we need to help them just so they can grow up to lead normal lives.

RealityIsMyOnlyDelusion Tue 09-Jun-09 12:51:54

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TooSmartbyHalf Tue 09-Jun-09 15:17:55

I have been looking at the threads on G&T for a while as I am afraid my own DD may end up with that label.

Thanks to Reality, Dad and NationalFlight for expressing some of my own concerns. FWIW, both DH and myself would probably have been labelled gifted and talented if such things had existed when we were at school. We both managed to make it to Uni and have a collection of undergrad and postgrad degrees between us. We don't have particularly high flying jobs, although I believe DH could have had a spectacular career if he had been able to relate better to other people - the old emotional intelligence thing.

DH comes from a long line of "intellectuals" who trail behind them a series of broken relationships and mental health problems.

Hence my concerns for DD.

lijaco Tue 09-Jun-09 20:18:21

The point is here that academically gifted and talented MAY end up average. The unlabelled / undiscovered gifted and talented can end up very successful. The point being that what do you consider to be gifted and talented. How do you assess this accurately.
Dadatlarge I can relate exactly to what you have stated above. So many gifted and talented kids end up down that road. It is so sad. I have in no way made any personal comments regarding your dc and I do believe that he should be encouraged. You are really taking this personally. I did not target you with all work and no play makes jack a dull boy. I myself at school loved maths not at such ayoung age though. I started to click with it in secondary school and couldnt get enough of it. It isnt always cool to be keen in any subject. That is another issue. Any child in this day and age can go off the rails more due to peer pressure more than anything else. It is difficult for ALL children. For me its about equal opportunity for all children. Its not just the real gifted and talented all children should be differentiated for within lesson plans to keep interest. There are so many types of special needs and labels. I believe that learning should be fun! Pressure can be a bug bearer though and cause problems in later life for some.

lijaco Tue 09-Jun-09 20:19:32

I must say as well dadatlarge i never said that your son should not be encouraged.

lisad123 Tue 09-Jun-09 20:31:23

I know a few adults you would have classed as G&T as children, and ones a piano teacher and the other a builder. I dont think G&T means you'll end up with a fab job. My DD1 is classed as G&T but to be honest, I dont care what she grows up to be as long as shes happy. She wants to be a writer this week grin

DadAtLarge Tue 09-Jun-09 20:52:43

lijaco, it's not about my DS. Or you. It's about a mindless association of gifted provision with stress and pressure on the child. It's about the insulting assessment of parents as being so moronic that none of them can tell between clever and really gifted (even when it's explained to them). It's about the assertion that being disadvantaged confers some sort of superior claim on resources to the exclusion of everyone else. It's about using the government's arbitrary cut-off point as an argument for having no cut-off point. It's about using equal opportunities as a screen for redistribution of advantage. It's about a misplaced class war and dismissing high academic achievers as just reflections of their parents' money and demands.

And that's exactly what some teachers do. Feel free to join my condemnation of them.

Sorry for the rant, everyone. Maybe someone can get this back on topic and prevent the thread from becoming a "stop G&T" copy.

Jux Tue 09-Jun-09 21:03:42

My parents had kids who were exceptionally gifted. We are all incredibly rich and famous.

oneforward20back Tue 09-Jun-09 21:08:08

I think that G&T program is design to avoid the behaviour problems that can accompany G&T children at school. I was not classed as G&T but have a G&T IQ. This was hidden by my dyslexia and cause multiple problems throught out my education. My sister was classed as G&T and never had to work for any exam. Interestingly enough she is a primary teacher and I want to teach 2ndry science.

As for unwanted pressure I believe that it is a general symptom of the current system. I was the last year to avoid SATs and didn't suffer the presurisation that children today get put under to do well. The best piece of advice I was given was that to fail an exam wasn't the end of the world because there was alternative routes. Kids today believe the world will end because they don't get the right grade sad

Getting back on track the best balanced G&T grownups probably do something they love and are focused on that. It is the reality that money doesn't come from academic brilliance -more enterprenuer genius. The main point is that it doesn't matter what you do as long as you are happy. Plus some of the careers considered less desirable are the most important to society. I respect the bin men for what they do - I couldn't do it.

singersgirl Tue 09-Jun-09 21:17:15

Isn't there some kind of 'optimally gifted' range into which most obviously highly successful people fall - something in the 135 - 150 IQ range? I guess, clever enough to be able to do most things if you're interested in them, but not necessarily so clever that you're not on the same wavelength as other people. I'm sure I saw some study hypothesising the IQs of US presidents and most were in that range.

But that's beside the point, really. We shouldn't only provide appropriate provision for children based on how much they might earn or how famous they might become - we should be giving them the resources they need to help them learn now, so that later they can do whatever they want to do. Which might mean stopping them going off the rails or becoming happy and fulfilled stay at home mothers or becoming research scientists or builders or whatever.

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