The (Gifted) Kids Are All Right

Posted by: Bostonian

The (Gifted) Kids Are All Right - 09/17/20 12:41 PM

The (Gifted) Kids Are All Right
A new study suggests that teenagers who take challenging courses and skip grades are happy and well-adjusted in later life, contrary to stereotypes

By Susan Pinker
Wall Street Journal
Sept. 17, 2020 12:52 pm ET

What do Lady Gaga, Rep. Katie Porter of California and Fields Medal-winning mathematician Terence Tao have in common? As teenagers, they were all selected to participate in programs for the gifted and talented. Or they got the chance to enter college early. Or both.

It’s widely thought that being identified as different or skipping ahead academically at a young age comes at a social cost. “There is the belief that individuals who are academically talented are emotionally vulnerable, and changes in routine such as grade-skipping will trigger that vulnerability,” says Frank Worrall, director of the school psychology program at the University of California, Berkeley. Examples abound in popular culture, he notes, citing the brilliant but socially inept main characters in the TV series “The Big Bang Theory.” In this view, it’s better for gifted children to stay in class with their age-mates instead of being bumped up a grade or challenged by an advanced curriculum.

But the idea that intellectual prowess makes young people vulnerable snowflakes is a myth, according to fresh data collected and analyzed by David Lubinski and Camila Benbow, professors of psychology and education at Vanderbilt, who have followed the lives of gifted kids for decades. In a study published last month in the Journal of Educational Psychology, the two professors, along with doctoral student Brian Bernstein, followed over 1,600 highly gifted American teenagers who were identified in the 1970s and ‘80s as among the top 1% in their age group in math and verbal abilities. These students were selected for advanced educational opportunities before they graduated from high school. Did early acceleration interfere with their happiness in the long term?

To answer that question, the researchers looked at how these students are doing at age 50. Using several standardized tests, the team found that there was no relationship between an accelerated academic program—such as being targeted for an enrichment program, skipping a grade, entering college early or taking an outsize number of AP courses in high school—and the students’ ultimate psychological balance.

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ungated
Posted by: indigo

Re: The (Gifted) Kids Are All Right - 09/17/20 01:19 PM

Great stuff, Bostonian!
Thanks for posting.
I'll add a link to your post, to the roundup on Acceleration.
smile
Posted by: Eagle Mum

Re: The (Gifted) Kids Are All Right - 09/19/20 07:07 PM

The character portrayals in ‘The Big Bang Theory’ seem like a ‘tall poppy syndrome’ based attempt by the creators to reassure the rest of the population that those with intellectual gifts have matching deficits in other areas, whereas in my personal experience, many individuals with superior cerebral functions also have better than average overall neuromuscular development. In a society where sports & dance prowess are highly valued, I encouraged my kids to develop their sports & dance skills and engage in these activities, which have brought a lot of social currency. It is, of course, also important to always be a considerate team player. My kids have received early entry and radical subject acceleration and are all happy, well adjusted and enjoy great social popularity.
Posted by: MumOfThree

Re: The (Gifted) Kids Are All Right - 09/20/20 11:25 PM

Originally Posted By: Eagle Mum
The character portrayals in ‘The Big Bang Theory’ seem like a ‘tall poppy syndrome’ based attempt by the creators to reassure the rest of the population that those with intellectual gifts have matching deficits in other areas, whereas in my personal experience, many individuals with superior cerebral functions also have better than average overall neuromuscular development. In a society where sports & dance prowess are highly valued, I encouraged my kids to develop their sports & dance skills and engage in these activities, which have brought a lot of social currency. It is, of course, also important to always be a considerate team player. My kids have received early entry and radical subject acceleration and are all happy, well adjusted and enjoy great social popularity.


It was certainly Miraca Gross's finding that exceptionally gifted children fared better when accelerated if they had socially acceptable interests, and especially if those interests and other strengths included success in sports.

I would postulate that it is, sadly, very common for 2E kids NOT to "have better than average overall neuromuscular development", and in fact to often have worse than average neuromusclar function, or at least to have very uneven neuromusclar function... My own children each have issues that significantly impact their competitive sport capacity, but (actually quite unexpectedly) do no limit their music or visual art ability. Sadly neither art nor music are as good a foil for their difference as being athletic would have been.

Each of them have the potential to enjoy, or even do quite well at physical activities which are not the sort of sports which are favoured by schools here. But that potential for "other" physical activities will make little difference to being mocked for their lack of ball sport skill while at school.
Posted by: Eagle Mum

Re: The (Gifted) Kids Are All Right - 09/21/20 03:52 AM

Sports and dance are definitely the most popular activities over here, but I’d always thought that being a member of a band and/or orchestra was also socially advantageous. It is also my understanding that orchestral performances are physically demanding and most professional members are quite physically fit and coordinated.
Posted by: pinewood1

Re: The (Gifted) Kids Are All Right - 09/21/20 09:25 AM

At least in the US, music is pretty much neutral for your popularity. (I was another one of those kids who was hopeless at ball sports. There's basically nothing that can make up for that here.)
Posted by: MumOfThree

Re: The (Gifted) Kids Are All Right - 09/21/20 04:48 PM

Originally Posted By: Eagle Mum
I’d always thought that being a member of a band and/or orchestra was also socially advantageous.

My experience watching my children (I am utterly unmusical myself) is that it is a wonderful social experience to play in ensembles, large and small. BUT like pinewood1 says, it's fairly neutral re popularity and general social "fitting in" across the wider school community. And that is at schools with a large and successful music programs. Discussing this with my kids' various music teachers it seems there are many schools where it's "weird" and "geeky" to be involved with the music department and their own quite musical children have been deterred from being involved in music at school because it was socially disadvantageous. Notably these schools also had poor offerings which were often boring to embarrassing to be part of, and as music gets stripped from budgets this will presumably be more and more the case.

Originally Posted By: Eagle Mum
It is also my understanding that orchestral performances are physically demanding and most professional members are quite physically fit and coordinated.
It does depend quite a bit on the instrument in question how fit one really needs to be in order to play to the highest standard. Some brass instruments require really very high cardiovascular fitness to play at the professional level. But yes, this was one of the reasons I mentioned that it was surprising that our children's developmental other "Es" have not prevented them from excellence in musicianship. Our child who is currently attending a conservatory attached highschool should not be physically able to play their instrument, not at the level they do, or having achieved that level with the ease they have. The OT we've been working with for years was sure it would not be possible and pretty much did not want them to even try.
Posted by: aeh

Re: The (Gifted) Kids Are All Right - 09/21/20 07:02 PM

From my observations of the types of individuals who comprise data points in the above-referenced research, I think one of the key contributions of radical acceleration in their generally positive life outcomes outside of academics and careers is that this was one of the ways they were acknowledged and accepted for who they were. I wouldn't say the ones I know were particularly above average in some of the skills listed above as bringing social currency (sports, dance, etc.), with some definitely below average. But they -were- comfortable in their own skin, which is a trait that has increasing social currency as one develops, and I think part of that comfort came from having their intellectual (and other) gifts accepted and allowed to unfold at something more like their own pace.

And to the question of music as social currency: well, if you write or perform certain kinds of popular music, it has a little bit of social currency with some subgroups, but generally, adolescent musicians in ensembles are more likely to be classed as band or theater "geeks".

Also, cardiovascular fitness does not equal general athleticism or fitness. Exhibit A: Pavorotti, especially prior to his late-in-life weight loss.
Posted by: MumOfThree

Re: The (Gifted) Kids Are All Right - 09/21/20 08:04 PM

Originally Posted By: aeh
But they -were- comfortable in their own skin, which is a trait that has increasing social currency as one develops, and I think part of that comfort came from having their intellectual (and other) gifts accepted and allowed to unfold at something more like their own pace.

Such a great insight thank you AEH!
Posted by: aquinas

Re: The (Gifted) Kids Are All Right - 01/27/21 07:04 PM

Originally Posted By: MumOfThree
Originally Posted By: aeh
But they -were- comfortable in their own skin, which is a trait that has increasing social currency as one develops, and I think part of that comfort came from having their intellectual (and other) gifts accepted and allowed to unfold at something more like their own pace.

Such a great insight thank you AEH!


This is exactly it, aeh. Love and freedom to be.