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    #160254 - 06/15/13 09:46 AM Giftedness in both medieval and ancient times!
    QT3.1414 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/09/13
    Posts: 63
    Hello everyone,

    I can't help but contemplate seemingly mundane and innocuous topics, but there is one I can't seem to shake or mitigate at the moment.

    Input is appreciated!

    While IQ testing is recent, "intellectual giftedness"--or the quest for knowledge and answers amongst extremely intelligent individuals--is not. My question is this:

    Given that religious individuals and wealthy males were the only ones receiving an "education" in the medieval era, how did the remainder of uneducated and likely impoverished --yet gifted and curious individuals--fare? What did they do and how did they overcome their lack of education? What did these people do to educate themselves?

    How was this different in ancient times (i.e. Sumeria, Egypt, Rome, Greece, etc.)

    Forgive my endless questioning. Any thoughts?

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    #160261 - 06/15/13 12:06 PM Re: Giftedness in both medieval and ancient times! [Re: QT3.1414]
    Wren Offline
    Member

    Registered: 01/14/08
    Posts: 1581
    Well, if they were well positioned, like Hatshepsut, they used their brains to gain power. Catherine the great was another great strategist.

    If they were impoverished, wouldn't they have just made a bad situation better? Relatively, they wouldn't have become a scholar, but maybe created methods to provide and build on a family business?

    Lucretia borgia even made pope. I just looked up brilliant women in medieval times and got an interesting list.

    http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-plus-1-ladies-of-the-european-middle-ages.php

    There are and have always been outliers.

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    #160267 - 06/15/13 05:15 PM Re: Giftedness in both medieval and ancient times! [Re: QT3.1414]
    Zen Scanner Offline
    Member

    Registered: 07/13/12
    Posts: 1478
    Loc: NC
    I think 2e issues, vision issues, physical challenges, personality idiosyncrasies all associated with a good chunk of the exceptionally gifted are not a coincidence. A small cultural unit healthy enough to support someone with challenges could also benefit from a bigger, creative thinker. You see medicine men, adventurers, etc. throughout cultures around the world and through time.

    People come to recognize that when Grog says not to eat something they should pay attention. And Grog knew because he was constantly observing, experimenting, and following the caveman version of the scientific method. There is a natural way of learning that kids follow and more people would've in the past.

    You also have oral story telling and when F'lut knows every story ever told in the village and tells them a bit better, suddenly instead of spending as much time milking her cows, someone helps her out and asks for a story. Maybe the one about the young lovers, because he has trouble with a certain girl in the village.

    Once you have writing, then the kind of mind that intuitively learns to read well at three in our times would figure out writing pretty quickly at ten or eleven the first time they see it. Rumors always spread, and someone smart enough would figure out where to go meet someone more like them to learn from. People grouse about being stuck with a school nowadays, but back then a twelve year old might've set out on a ten month journey north in hopes of finding that guy who knows more about plants.

    Then you have the "smart enough" people who recognize the too smart people and can capitalize on their abilities to make them advisors or such. Or play with the hypothesis that religion was invented by gifted people to protect themselves from people who couldn't intuit a moral code and as a means of storing and transmitting knowledge unbounded by mob mentality.

    Look for autobiographies by naturalists like Benjamin Franklin to fill in the gaps.

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    #160269 - 06/15/13 05:47 PM Re: Giftedness in both medieval and ancient times! [Re: QT3.1414]
    Michaela Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/18/09
    Posts: 529
    Loc: The bottom of my cup
    Authr in Djuputhga is my pet example.

    "Djuputhga" means "deepminded," which is just an awesome turn of phrase. She settled the North Quarter of Iceland in the late thenth century, after seeding her granddaughters across the faroes and orkneys.

    Laxdaela saga is the main version of her story. It's short, but sweet smile
    _________________________
    DS1: Hon, you already finished your homework
    DS2: Quit it with the protesting already!

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    #160293 - 06/16/13 07:39 AM Re: Giftedness in both medieval and ancient times! [Re: QT3.1414]
    QT3.1414 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/09/13
    Posts: 63
    thanks so much! I'll have to check this out, Michaela.

    Zen: how are vision issues related to/comorbid with giftedness? I'm curious.

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    #160296 - 06/16/13 08:46 AM Re: Giftedness in both medieval and ancient times! [Re: QT3.1414]
    Ellipses Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/22/09
    Posts: 402
    Loc: Colorado
    I was just thinking of this while watching "Game of Thrones". Good topic!!!

    I do think it would be frustrating to be gifted, but not from a good family. Would end up being a very frustrated slave.

    I am sure there were gifted blacksmiths and such.

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    #160299 - 06/16/13 08:54 AM Re: Giftedness in both medieval and ancient times! [Re: QT3.1414]
    HowlerKarma Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/05/11
    Posts: 5181
    From what I've been able to tell, many highly gifted persons wound up in religious orders.

    Augustinian principles weren't really applied across all of Europe until the late 8th-9th centuries, so until then, clergy could (and did) still marry, etc.

    After that, of course, it became a choice that must have led to profound sadness for those from less affluent means... but it would have served as an escape from a life with little meaning and opportunity, at least.

    The Medieval period in Europe, at any rate, is a fascinating time for studying what happened to people like that. There seems to have been a surprising degree of social mobility available given the other constraints inherent in the era.

    Broad categories which I've found shed interesting light on some perspectives there--

    Irish history ca. 700-1000 AD
    Hanseatic League and German states during the period
    Jewish history on the Iberian peninsula (ca. 600-1400 A.D.)

    _________________________
    Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.

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    #160300 - 06/16/13 09:02 AM Re: Giftedness in both medieval and ancient times! [Re: HowlerKarma]
    JonLaw Offline
    Member

    Registered: 07/29/11
    Posts: 2007
    Loc: The Sub-Tropics
    Originally Posted By: HowlerKarma
    The Medieval period in Europe, at any rate, is a fascinating time for studying what happened to people like that. There seems to have been a surprising degree of social mobility available given the other constraints inherent in the era.


    The entire High Middle Ages was a time of significant social mobility.

    One example of the way for a cobbler's son to become Pope.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Urban_IV

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    #160301 - 06/16/13 09:16 AM Re: Giftedness in both medieval and ancient times! [Re: QT3.1414]
    Zen Scanner Offline
    Member

    Registered: 07/13/12
    Posts: 1478
    Loc: NC
    Originally Posted By: QT3.1414
    thanks so much! I'll have to check this out, Michaela.

    Zen: how are vision issues related to/comorbid with giftedness? I'm curious.


    Here is one research article:
    http://www.iovs.org/content/45/9/2943.full

    Essentially, they were finding IQ was a better predictor for near sighted ness than even parental vision.

    My running take on it, based on too many factors is that the brain ends up making use of resources that initially are under or mis-utilized by basic sensory processing. Such as in my case I can build extremely complex mechanical systems in my head but I can't catch a baseball. It isn't an exclusionary thing and there are many other sources that may crank up intelligence and someone can have a vision problem and not have an increased IQ, etc. But not to take it too far off track, as I think your basic question is interesting as it stands and I've asked variations of it myself most of my life.

    Part of the question being things like how come say smart and uncoordinated wasn't weeded from the gene pool. At some threshold value having the intelligent home inventing fire and not out getting mauled by a saber tooth tiger is better for the survival of the village.

    Along the lines of what HK mentioned, religious institutes ran orphanages and would elevate the smart kids into the ranks of their scholars. You could probably also chart the development of civilization which often followed more of a revolutionary change pattern than evolutionary to individual contributors who brought about big ideas. We even idolize the intellectual and artistic heroes as a way encourage the masses to seek them out, it seems.

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    #160302 - 06/16/13 11:00 AM Re: Giftedness in both medieval and ancient times! [Re: QT3.1414]
    Michaela Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/18/09
    Posts: 529
    Loc: The bottom of my cup
    Oh! It just dawned on me that this is not specifically gifted *girls*

    In the VA Scandinavia, education was informal, gifted individuals were sought out and tutored by people who thought them gited... in a number of fields: they had special words for differing types of intellectual skill, including factual knowledge of history/genealogy, poetics, and law, which is kinda cool. Like early medieval fields of study smile There's a classic ghost story formula where someone goes to a gravesite and demands that the ghost teach him.

    A voyage away from home was seen as crucial to the education of a young man, but it's hard to tell, as far as I know, exactly which classes of men got which kinds of opportunities.

    Literacy (in runes, not roman letters) seems to have been fairly general eg Maeshow). There is at least one description of a houseman putting effort into identifying the talents of someone in the house, and then encouraging the skill of carving (Cant...remmeber...ref...arg).

    Vikings seem to have had a way of thoroughly enjoying giftedness of any kind. smile

    The history from the sagas is of variable reliability, but it's lots of fun:

    Check out Viking age court poets, in general. On precocity, Egil Skallagrimmson was said to steal a horse and ride to a party his dad wouldn't let him come to, and upon arrival, recited a complex stanza (at 3 or 5 or something). The Saga of the Confederates is about a gifted lawyer. (but I'm not sure I want to know what jokes Jonlaw will come up with if he reads it wink ) Snorri Snorrason kicks a** in many many ways. Sneglu Halli is hilarious, not in any way about a real person, but definitly about an intellectually gifted yet physically... erm... not... individual who grows up to overcome his weaknesses... well, except for porridge. That one kills him.

    Steinunnr and Jorunnr are two female poets, just while I'm stuck on chromosomes. We dont' really know how they came to be poets, but they did.


    Sorry, that was ajumble, but I'm being called, and don't have time to edit.... eh
    _________________________
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    DS2: Quit it with the protesting already!

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