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How America Turned Against Smart Kids

Most high-IQ children do not win Fields Medals [1] or become billionaire tech entrepreneurs. Even the most banal achievements often elude intellectually precocious children when they become adults. But among those who do make profound intellectual contributions to the world, several decades of research suggest that their potential can be discerned in childhood. The odds that any one gifted child will achieve eminence may be small, but a wise gambler searching for the next great scholar, physician, or titan of industry would bet on the precocious over the average child.

Rather than investing in high-IQ children, however, American society has moved in the opposite direction. An educational establishment seduced by egalitarian zeal, and an anti-intellectual American culture more generally, has turned the very idea of investing in our most intelligent kids into a sort of heresy, an uncouth departure from a conventional wisdom that has hardened since the 1930s.

Those who believe that intellectually talented children are owed something special, or, in any case, that it’s prudent to cultivate their abilities, are losing the political and cultural debate. Parents of gifted children, as a consequence, are pursuing enrichment outside of mainstream institutions.

The History of Gifted Education Research

It was largely the work of Stanford psychologist Lewis Terman [2], beginning in the 1910s, that kicked off America’s debate over intellectually talented children. Terman suspected that the prevailing stereotype of highly intelligent children as being feeble misfits was off base, and that these children were, in fact, healthy and brimming with potential. IQ tests at the time were generally untested among American academics. But Terman maintained [3] that IQ was “one of the most important facts that can be learned about any child.” He identified over a thousand children with an average IQ of around 150 and recruited them for an ongoing longitudinal study. The “Termites,” as his high-IQ subjects were endearingly called, steadily attained academic and financial achievements at rates considerably higher than the national average.

More generally, the emerging “gifted child movement” was advanced by the work of Terman’s contemporary, Columbia University psychologist Leta Hollingworth [4]. Hollingworth’s groundbreaking research, which pioneered above-age and grade-level testing [5], focused initially on 133+ IQ children [6] and later turned toward children above 180 IQ [7]. (To put these numbers in perspective, the average IQ of a white or Asian student at MIT, by one estimate [8], is 138.) Hollingworth, like Terman, found unique promise in gifted children, provided they were raised and educated under particular conditions that accounted for both their intellectual precocity and unique emotional sensitivities.

A major breakthrough in the field came in 1968 with the development of the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth. Interested in identifying the most promising STEM students, professor Julian Stanley [9] began to administer the SAT to middle-school aged children. Those who scored at the very top were enrolled in enrichment programs and, like the Termites, observed into adulthood. The program’s success led Stanley to launch Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth [10] (CTY) in the 1980s. Among its alumni [11] are Google co-founder Sergey Brin, mathematicians Terrence Tao and Lenhard Ng [12], and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The ongoing longitudinal survey is providing insights into intellectually talented children.

Characteristics of Gifted Children

Research on intellectually-talented children is still, in many ways, in its infancy. The definition of giftedness itself is a matter of debate. Harvard developmental psychologist Howard Gardner, for instance, has proposed [13] theories of multiple types of intelligence that deemphasize IQ. New research and, perhaps more significantly, technological breakthroughs [14] in areas like gene therapy and nootropics (cognitive enhancers), are likely to upend the field.

Still, the literature to date supports a number of generalizations on intellectually talented children. As measured by IQ and other measures of general intelligence, America’s gifted children:

Reflecting on the latest findings of longitudinal studies on gifted students, Jonathan Wai, a psychologist at the Duke University Talent Identification Program, concluded [11] that children with early cognitive ability “control our society…The kids who test in the top one percent tend to become our eminent scientists and academics, our Fortune 500 CEOs and federal judges, senators and billionaires.”

Whether or not they control our society, the preponderance of the evidence does suggest, at a minimum, that gifted children are endowed with unusual potential that manifests in adult eminence. Although gifted children do inherit certain genetic advantages, their overall life outcomes are contingent on the degree to which their capabilities are nourished and the extent to which they are protected from environmental hazards.

Ideological Resistance to Gifted and Talented Education

The intriguing literature on intellectually gifted children has not produced a corresponding interest in American society on how to cultivate their talent. In many ways, the opposite has occurred.

As eugenics fell out of fashion in the 1940s, the aspiration to help gifted children was increasingly likened to a concept that, in the name of improving the genetic fitness of the population, legitimated elitist and racist excesses against underprivileged groups. Whatever interest U.S.-Soviet rivalry rekindled [29] in gifted and talented education was again quashed with the civil rights movement and its aftermath. The dream of racial and gender equality underscored to the political and educational establishment that opportunities for gifted students were distractions from the more pressing imperative of elevating lower performing children. As Peg Tyre of the Edwin Gould Foundation reports [30], programs for the intellectually-talented today are generally “spurned by equity-minded school administrators and policymakers who see them as means by which predominantly affluent white and Asian parents have funneled scarce public dollars toward additional enrichment for their already enriched children.”

The Rise of Gifted Homeschooling

Against this backdrop, parents began to seek enrichment for their gifted children outside mainstream institutions. In 1978 a district court issued an arrest warrant for Dr. Peter Perchemlides, a Massachusetts-based biochemistry Ph.D. from Duke University, along with his college-educated wife, for refusing to comply with Massachusetts’ compulsory schooling law. The national attention and the couples’ ensuing superior court victory drew attention to the fact that the profile of homeschooling families was changing. The Perchemlides were part of a new wave of homeschoolers [31]—well-educated middle and upper class parents of diverse political persuasions who were removing their children from formal schools for educational rather than religious reasons.

Precise data is not available but reports since the 1980s indicate that the trend has continued. Last month, the National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT) observed [32] that homeschooling was becoming more popular among gifted children, an impression consistent with the latest data [33] on American homeschoolers. In 2010 about 30 percent of homeschooled students have fathers with at least a master’s degree and almost 9 percent are in families with a household income of over $150,000.

The Role of American Culture

Should any of this come as a surprise? Are democratic societies inherently incapable of acting in the interest of the brightest children—an upper echelon who relate to the world in ways unfathomable to the average citizen?

If there’s a common theme that recurs in the memoirs of gifted children and their parents, it’s the lack of empathy with which they’re greeted in mainstream society—a misunderstanding that too often veers into shaming and contempt.

It’s noteworthy as well that successful [34] ventures like the Reno-based Davidson Academy [35], which accepts only the top .01 percent of scorers on achievements tests, are not being replicated to any significant extent—not even in highly educated corridors of the country. Specialized schools that do exist for gifted students are battling legislation [36] and lawsuits [37] aimed at eliminating intelligence testing.

The reason [38], according to professor Linda Gottfredson [39], is that gifted children “epitomize our ambivalence over talent”; they are “the natively gifted who remind us starkly that we are not all equally capable, no matter how many hours we study or practice.”

But fatalism is premature. Consider that America’s wariness is not the norm in other democracies. Rising democracies like South Korea [40]—unencumbered by the same anti-intellectual [41], egalitarian dogmas—are investing heavily in giftedness programs.

Establishment resistance to gifted and talented education stems from a broader apathy in American culture toward intellectual enrichment. Insofar as there remains an identifiable culture that unifies the American nation, it is defined by the behavior of mainstream society. One is hard-pressed to think of anything more distinctly American than junk food [42], sedentariness [43], and televised cartoons [44]—all correlates of IQ reduction and diminished executive function in children. American children watch [45] more than 24 hours of television per week, a strong correlate of negative effects [46] on children’s verbal IQ. One can presume that they are modeling their parents—the millions who squander their Sundays marveling at the brain-damaging athleticism of NFL linebackers, but rarely indulge even a fraction of that attention in admiring experts at chess [47] and other activities linked to IQ improvements in children.

Nor do children, or at least their intellectual cultivation, rank particularly highly in the minds of American parents. In a joint 2011 survey from TODAY.com and Parenting.com, 45 percent of American mothers admitted [48] that they would “choose to weigh 15 pounds less rather than add 15 points to their child’s IQ.” Many of these women undoubtedly comprise the growing ranks of America’s single mothers [49], whose out-of-wedlock births and no-fault divorces often deny children the cognitive benefits of educated [50], involved [51] fathers. Yet in the face of these realities, public intellectuals like Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum, continue to chide [52] the United States for being “a society unusually obsessed with its children.”

Even if the more hereditarian theories of intelligence are true, and even if there are limitations on how much baseline IQs can be raised, the state of American culture is almost certainly harming the intelligence of children who might otherwise have the capacity for outlier intellectual performance.

A Welfare State that Hurts Gifted Children

America’s civic culture is in turn spawning a welfare state that undermines gifted children. Government intervention would perhaps serve the interests of gifted children were it aimed at combatting exposure to such neurotoxins as fluoride [53], lead [54], and indoor mold [55] that are correlated with declines in children’s IQ.

What we have instead is a ballooning welfare state [56], financed by progressive taxation [57], that indulges crony capitalist pollution of neurotoxins, but feels little compunction about seizing property, liberty and discretionary income from the most talented, and handing it to those whose children, statistically, have little chance at outlier intellectual performance.

Indeed, wealth redistribution is increasingly justified under the pretense of high principle— “social justice” on the left, “economic nationalism” on the right. This is hardly a national ethos that celebrates the enrichment of gifted children as a noble end in itself. Nor does it foster an enlightened self-interest, guided by the recognition that investments in intellectually-talented children will ultimately redound to the benefit of society through innovation, scientific breakthroughs, and wealth creation.

Elites Going Their Own Way

If there is a case for optimism, it is that a growing number of parents are no longer allowing their gifted children’s talent to be stultified by mainstream America’s egalitarian sensibilities in the realm of education.

More so than their middle and lower class counterparts, couples in the “cognitive elite” [58] are staying married [59] and raising the type of “child-centered families” [25] that produce gifted children. A case in point is the rise of stay-at-home motherhood among Ivy League graduates [60] and other highly-educated wives, who, as The Economist puts it [61], “would rather spend their time hot-housing their toddlers so that they may one day get into Harvard.” Among college-educated Asian stay-at-home mothers, “the necessity and irreplaceable value of parental care” is among the most significant motivators [62].

Parents of gifted children are able today, with unprecedented ease, to pack up and pursue new opportunities. With remote offices and online businesses, they can move across state lines for less restrictive homeschooling regulations [63]. Rather than bothering with the Sisyphean task of “education reform” one PTA meeting at a time, parents now have the liberty to opt for individualized regiments with private tutors and coaches. This is among the reasons why top American students, notwithstanding the United States’ middling standing overall [64], have started to prevail in international math competitions after two decades of Chinese, Russian, and South Korean dominance. The accelerated-math community is abandoning public schools and turning to private enrichment camps, creating, as a recent report in The Atlantic described [30] it, “a new pedagogical ecosystem—almost entirely extracurricular—that has developed online and in the country’s rich coastal cities and tech meccas.”

Who can blame them? So long as American society pits its aspirations against its most gifted children, expect intellectual elites to go their own way.

Pratik Chougule is an executive editor at The American Conservative. Follow him on twitter @pjchougule. He can be reached via email at [email protected] Sign up for his email list here [65].

49 Comments (Open | Close)

49 Comments To "How America Turned Against Smart Kids"

#1 Comment By John_M On April 22, 2017 @ 12:37 am

By no means are my kids in the top .01%. But the anti-intellectualism in the American popular culture limits all bright kids. Middle/junior high school is a particular wasteland. And the common core standards that are being adopted are so low as to limit the educational opportunities of student who follow it. Taking Calculus by 12th grade is not an elite level of education – it is essentially necessary for all students heading into engineering, math, and the physical sciences.

My local school district in the Seattle suburbs has an excellent reputation. But my daughter was not challenged in 7th grade. So halfway through the year I went in and gave the principal grief and walked away with a > 50% online and home study program. We found the on-line program to be simple enough that she knocked off a year’s study in each subject in a month, so we returned the material and they gave us the next year’s material. A month later we did it again. So at my expense I enrolled my daughter in a High School Honors Geometry correspondence course over the summer. She skipped 8th grade and went right to the honors program in High School, which she found to be easy. So I gave the principal grief. They told me that they had to follow the state graduation requirements and I told them I didn’t care – we were doing her education my way. So we did. She took Calculus for college credit in 10th grade and a full load of IB and AP classes. At the end of 10th grade, she dropped out of high school at 14, and was admitted to the University of Washington early admission program. She is now 19 and more than half though her Masters Program in Structural Engineering.

The University of Washington admits a class of ~ 18 students after 8th grade, and a class of ~ 36 students after 10th grade – into the university honors program. The 8th graders get a transition year. The 10th graders do not. In general the students do very well. More universities should follow suit. These programs have been around for decades now and are very successful.

My 17 year old son, who is less diligent than his older sister, is doing Running Start. He will be carrying a heavy load, but he expects to come out of his senior year of high school having completed the full prerequisites for both Industrial Engineering and Business and plans on doing a double degree at the University of Washington (entry into the UW, and into both programs is competitive).

My brother had a somewhat similar experience with his son, who ended up going to MIT / Cal Tech / Stanford / Harvard on his way to his research position in molecular genetics.

We didn’t try the private tutor route. My wife has a Masters in Education and I am a Physicist with a Ph.D. in Engineering. So we did the needed guidance and tutoring ourselves. My brother is a department chair at a major medical school with a wife who has a Ph.D. from MIT.

#2 Comment By Axxr On April 22, 2017 @ 1:30 am

I was one of these kids. After years in middle school and high school skating along on what I’d learned largely at home with my parents by age nine or ten, and facing a high school system that openly said that the requirements were “seat time, not learning or progress,” I dropped out of high school, much to my parents’ chagrin.

Luckily, local figures who were aware of me took an interest in me and worked to have me enrolled early at the local state university—and luckily local state U was flexible enough to work some magic and get me enrolled.

I went on to attend an ivy for graduate school and earn my doctorate—a far cry from the “smart but troubled” child I’d been labeled to be in the high school system.

I was troubled because I was essentially imprisoned by the school system for a good chunk of my early life, and the effects of this label and of their obstruction haunted me for years. With help and encouragement, rather than annoyed management, I might have earned my doctorate a decade or more earlier and been able to contribute in my youth, when energy and motivation tend to be at their highest.

Much was lost for me personally, but more importantly, much is being lost to our society, not just as the result of legislated standards, but also by invariably small-minded administrative fiat in the margins along the way.

The culture of enforced egalitarianism means that we must all march to the beat of the least competent drummers amongst us. It’s no way to run a society.

#3 Comment By Claire On April 22, 2017 @ 2:32 am

I don’t know if going a different route is necessarily better for children than the typical public school system. My brother and I are both CTY alumni (I don’t know if this makes us geniuses, but we did take the SAT as kids and pass it), and I went to a boarding school while he stayed home in public school. My brother ended up with all of the social development he needed, entrance into an Ivy League School, and a plan for a valuable career in engineering. I went to an equally ranked school (they ranked as the same in US News), didn’t have nearly as many friends, and also have a career plan. But the difference is that my parents spent exactly 0 dollars on my brother’s education. The system doesn’t actually do gifted kids a disservice, at least from our perspective. (Note: we live in the inner city of a city with a failing school district, so it’s not like I’m speaking from behind a white picket fence.) I think it’s more the home life that matters. If you send your kid to public school so that the actual homework/tests are easier, and then spend the extra time on helping them develop their own interests like publishing an article, writing a book, working on chemistry at a local university, etc. that’s going to have a much bigger impact on your kid than homeschooling them and making sure they have calculus under their belt at 14. ALSO, the system actually has some really great programs for gifted kids. My brother maxed out the math program at the public school by either sophomore or junior year and was sent to a local college to take further math classes. He started his freshman year in college in Calc III/IV.

That said, the fact that there needed to be involvement from my parents to get us into CTY, to know that we should be taking the SAT at age 12, etc., that stinks. Teachers said things to my parents so they knew to look into it, but it was very much on them, and that’s where I think the big failing is. We’re letting a lot of kids through the cracks, even though the current system is equipped to handle smarter kids through 12th grade.

#4 Comment By Balconesfault On April 22, 2017 @ 4:20 am

“What we have instead is a ballooning welfare state, financed by progressive taxation, that indulges crony capitalist pollution of neurotoxins, but feels little compunction about seizing property, liberty and discretionary income from the most talented, and handing it to those whose children, statistically, have little chance at outlier intellectual performance.”

For the most part, those favoring progressive taxation are also the strongest supporters of eliminating brain damaging neurotoxins from our environment. Note how quickly chlorpyrifos usage was approved once supply siders got their hands on the Executive branch?

I seriously doubt that there is data to buttress a claim that wealth distribution penalizes our ability to create educational opportunities for the gifted … But there’s ample evidence that there are gifted students who would never have a chance in life without those handouts you decry.

But we need to face up to the reality that when we measure schools based on performance on standardized tests that any gifted child can pass with ease
… And provide schools with no incentive to demonstrate excellence in achievement by the truly gifted who sit in their classes … They will out of economic necessity focus attention on the mediocre performers.

Also, gifted children require truly talented teachers. How do you recruit the talent with entry level salaries that are a fraction of what business and industry pay our top college grads?

#5 Comment By Lee On April 22, 2017 @ 4:24 am

Well, I skimmed the write-up, which isn’t to say I’m not interested enough in the research cited not to be a bit more than curious.

My IQ tested out more than high enough to be slated “gifted”. My mom worked in “Gifted” administration for the school system and strongly discouraged having me admitted to the program.

Why? Because those “gifted” kids, in absence of social skills on average don’t do very well…vs. less intelligent more socially skilled amongst the dregs for whatever context we’re individually handed to navigate.

Did mom make the right choice? Absolutely.

Least I’m most certainly content and on a pure income basis, infinitely more successful than them “gifted” kids on average from that particular period of “pre-head start” history.

My own thoughts, there’s one hell of a lot more to being “gifted” vs. the well researched and nuanced fact, most folks are absolutely completely unaware of as a given perspective. Would you believe that Einstein, wasn’t particularly good at Math?

Some where in that last sentence exist pure wisdom, albeit not my own realm of expertise.

#6 Comment By KD On April 22, 2017 @ 6:48 am

The article does get at the essential problem of socialism.

From a profit-maximizing perspective, you invest capital into an opportunity that will generate the most profit, that is to say, generally, the most efficient means of production (“bang for the buck”). In mining, this means using only rocks with the richest and most easily extracted ore. In an educational system, this means identifying the individuals with the most cognitive potential and devoting resources primarily to those individuals.

From a socialist perspective, you invest capital into an opportunity that will generate the most jobs of long-standing tenure, which favor structural inefficiency. You want to use low quality rocks from which ore can only be extracted through tedious and expensive refinement processes. This means the result is both more expensive and generally inferior to the capitalist product.

Throwing money at students with low cognitive potential is a great way to enshrine a permanent caste of public servants, who will work diligently spending the public’s money without any real results.

It creates a permanent industry within the Cathedral vested with the transmutation of cognitive lead into cognitive gold. Of course, the Cathedral hasn’t solved the alchemical problem of the transmutation of the elements yet, but they are working hard on the solution, and social justice is just around the corner.

#7 Comment By JonF On April 22, 2017 @ 7:33 am

I can relate to some of this article as once upon a time I was one of these gifted children, but in a working class family and stuck in a fairly mediocre (though not horrible) school system.
Where this goes utterly off the rails is in the Randite whining about the “welfare state”. This has nothing to do with the topic, the point of which should be to foster giftedness in children, not bash the non-gifted and the intellectually deficient. Vast sums of money are not needed for that purpose (the best thing my parents did for me was to have lots and lots of books around– this was pre-Internet– and, by example, to have a culture of reading in our household). We need not starve Peter to help Paul! The article notes an unusual degree of empathy among the gifted– well, that empathy has made me, I guess, into a flaming liberal who favors a string safety net. High intelligence need not be rewarded with great heaps of cash– in many ways it is own reward as those who possess it may well enjoy and comprehend life to a greater degree. I would far rather live in a just society of ordinary people doing well, than a brutalist society of people like me living like gods while everyone else is miserable.

#8 Comment By libertarian jerry On April 22, 2017 @ 8:04 am

Public education,which is the 10th Plank of the Communist Manifesto,is designed to homogenize young minds into the conformity of the worldviews of the current political class. This conformity consists mainly of the equality of results. That is,no matter how much more one student excels in their subjects that student must be penalized for being successful. This is sort of like the progressive tax system which penalizes higher earners and rewards the mediocre.
In the end,public education is about indoctrination not education. With that said,in today’s world and in the their best interests,it would be better to home school your children. Teach them to think for themselves,to act responsibly and to be self reliant and not to be just a cog in the wheel.

#9 Comment By JLF On April 22, 2017 @ 9:09 am

Some states have residential high schools for high achieving sophomores, juniors, and seniors, Admission is competitive and based upon standardized tests, including ACT/SAT scores, teacher recommendations, and personal interviews. Ironically, the first two of these schools were in North Carolina (1981) and Louisiana (1983) and continue today in spite of legislative indifference to the results and hostility to the costs, both a consequence of the anti-intellectualism endemic to the South.

#10 Comment By Oakinhou On April 22, 2017 @ 9:33 am

I was a gifted child (fortunate enough to have parents that bought me encyclopedias and as many books I wanted to peruse at my leisure). I graduated with honors in high school, undergraduate, and a M.Sc degree. I have an IQ in the mid 140s

I am the kind of person this article talks about.

So why in God’s name do we have to stop in the middle and do a detour into conservalibertiaGOPublicanland and include this:

“What we have instead is a ballooning welfare state, financed by progressive taxation, that indulges crony capitalist pollution of neurotoxins, but feels little compunction about seizing property, liberty and discretionary income from the most talented, and handing it to those whose children, statistically, have little chance at outlier intellectual performance.”

What does this paragraph add, except being a gratuitous zing at liberal strawmans?

Or is it mandatory that The American Conservative must not publish an article without decrying how horrible liberals and the welfare state are, even when in has nothing to do with the subject?

#11 Comment By Johann On April 22, 2017 @ 9:50 am

Thank you for this informative article.

On a side note, regarding the sentence “Indian-Americans, Jews (particularly Ashkenazi Jews), and northeast Asians are consistently overrepresented in U.S. samples of gifted children.”, I only recently learned that the term “oriental” is now a bad derogatory racist term, and that the term “east Asian” or “northeast Asian” should be used in its place. And yet apparently its still ok to use the word “caucasian”. Its frustrating. Keeping up with the correct non-insulting words is becoming tiresome.

#12 Comment By Robert Anderson On April 22, 2017 @ 9:57 am

While I agree that there is a streak of anti-intellectualism in American society, intelligence is also very important to people these days. Just intelligence of a different sort, that being machine intelligence. I suppose the thinking is that if we have machines run everything humans can all be equally useless.

Being tangentially related, I would point out one of the relative pitfalls a society that focuses too much on intelligence. I’m thinking specifically on “Player Piano” by Vonnegut where they make it into a caste system.

#13 Comment By connecticut farmer On April 22, 2017 @ 11:22 am

The author’s comments should have been directed towards the current state of education in this country as it effects the overwhelming majority of kids who will never get to Harvard or, possibly, even get to college. Sorry, but I can’t muster a great deal of sympathy over the plight of these kids or their parents. The Ivies, Stanford, MIT, CalPoly etc. are filled with kids with 130+ IQs. To say that the parents of such children “are losing the political and cultural debate” runs contrary to reality. Ever hear of the word “Meritocracy”? It is they who comprise the nation’s elite. If anything, this country worships at their feet. And among the consequences has been the wholesale transfer of wealth from the overwhelming majority to a tiny minority–quite the opposite of “wealth creation”.

It is ironic (if not a symptom of a kind of cognitive dissonance) to hear a member of The Elite decrying the absence of “equality” in American society. As Professor Gottfredson (quoted in the article) writes “we are not all equally capable.” Indeed. Having a high IQ is indeed a gift, but it is abundantly clear that the resources are there to cultivate this gift. Our main objective should be to improve the minds of the less gifted to the fullest extent as possible.

#14 Comment By SteveM On April 22, 2017 @ 11:57 am

I was a “gifted” kid, but in a mostly blue collar environment. The all-boys Catholic high school I attended tracked students based on academic ability. I had a lot of fun with my honors classmates who I mostly paled around with and also a lot of fun with the regular guys I played football and ran track with. I don’t feel shortchanged a bit.

Our parents were not positioned to expose us “gifted” kids to the sorts of intellectual experiences described by Pratik Chougule, but I’m not sure that was such a bad thing. Make no mistake, if we wanted to try something in an intellectual vein on our own, our parents generally supported our initiative. However our play and social lives were mostly spontaneous and self directed.

What Chougule is describing suggests to me the hyper-competitive, hyper-stressful “Tiger Mother” environment that obliterates self-directed fun for the cause of an academic pedigree. That’s not fun, that’s work. I’m guessing that a gifted kid with a more independent upbringing will more probably end up doing what he wants to do, not what his parents want him to do.

If high IQ parents want to run off and force feed the kids (gifted or not) intellectual experiences till the cows come home, that’s their business. But believe it or not, some “gifted” kids often just want to shoot some hoops after school…

#15 Comment By MikeS On April 22, 2017 @ 12:44 pm

Great ideas. The educational bureaucracy is not your friend, it is not primarily about education, it’s about being a jobs program and social engineering. It’s up to parents to independently find and implement the best education solutions for their children. (Sort of equivalent to Mr Dreher’s Ben Op). Fortunately it’s still legal to do so.

#16 Comment By Donald On April 22, 2017 @ 1:24 pm

This isn’t true in the suburban area where I live. The towns all have superb public high schools, so good it seems almost decadent for the parents who send their kids to the extremely expensive private school ( tuition nearly 50,000 a year). In the local paper there are constantly articles about gifted kids in one of the local public high schools doing impressive research projects or in some other way excelling. If you live in affluent suburbs full of well educated parents who expect their kids to go to very good colleges, the problem described here doesn’t exist.

It might very well be different in other places. I am just reporting what I know about my social group.

#17 Comment By collin On April 22, 2017 @ 2:19 pm

Can TAC make up their minds about Smart Kids? Donald Trump whole campaign was against evil smart kids on the coast outsourcing jobs and using illegal immigrants mowing their lawns. And how often to hear complaints from TAC and small c conservatives about meritocrasy and the Ivy League schools? (Or the ‘diversity’ of Tech companies which sounds like a swipe at Asian-Americans.)

In reality smart kids at 90%+ of public schools can thrive and in fact, living in a minority heavy area California, my kids High school was better than 1980s experience.

#18 Comment By Let Me Recover My Sight – Mk 10 On April 22, 2017 @ 2:41 pm

Maybe all the smart kids and smart adults should go on strike, per the example of Ayn Rand’s John Galt.

#19 Comment By Dana Pavlick On April 22, 2017 @ 3:07 pm

Gilbert Keith Chesterton, identified by George Bernard Shaw as a “colossal genius” wrote,

“This is the one eternal education: to be sure enough a thing is true that you dare to tell it to a child.”

The remedy is that simple. And that profound.

#20 Comment By Ivy Mae On April 22, 2017 @ 3:13 pm

“If high IQ parents want to run off and force feed the kids (gifted or not) intellectual experiences till the cows come home, that’s their business. But believe it or not, some “gifted” kids often just want to shoot some hoops after school…”

Do gifted kids like to do regular stuff sometimes? Sure. But parents of highly gifted kids know that the main hallmark of their intelligence is a need for more stimulation. They actually get anxious, angry, and stressed if you don’t provide (seemingly endless) resources for them to engage their minds. I used to worry about folks perceiving me as a hothouser until I realized how much happier my kids were when I made it a priority to constantly stoke their intellectual fires.

Comments about “force feeding” and “hothousing” are part of culture’s suspicious attitude toward the highly intelligent.

#21 Comment By SteveM On April 22, 2017 @ 4:19 pm

Re: “Comments about ‘force feeding’ and ‘hothousing’ are part of culture’s suspicious attitude toward the highly intelligent.”

What “culture”? I’m considered “highly intelligent”, so why would I be suspicious, unless my suspicions had some grounds for them? (BTW, being highly intelligent and 2 bucks will get me a cup of coffee.)

My dad graduated from high school worked as a draftsman. My mother was a high school drop-out. My parents were anything but hyper-aware of my need for stimulation to engage my mind. To amuse I myself I read voraciously and sometimes watched PBS. My parents bought us books. In those pre-internet days there was little else.

In high school I gravitated to guys who thought like me. I and my highly intelligent peers (honors track classmates) were anything but angry, anxious and stressed. We actually enjoyed a balanced life and then as first generation college grads went on to make decent living. All without our parents falling over themselves to keep us intellectually satisfied.

The kids these days that are angry, anxious and stressed are the ones stuffed into the meritocratic sausage grinder to satisfy the warped aspirations of their “highly intelligent” and often very neurotic parents. What fun is that? And too often, the cycle then repeats itself…

#22 Comment By Jmark On April 22, 2017 @ 4:48 pm

“The kids who test in the top one percent tend to become our eminent scientists and academics, our Fortune 500 CEOs and federal judges, senators and billionaires…”

And so the conclusion is that we live in an egalitarian society that’s holding smart kids back? This article is confusing. It contains several statements like the above suggesting that smart kids end up at the top of economic/social/political food chain, and yet seems unaware that this undercuts its premise. And it’s not like we live in a society where the top of the economic food chain is anywhere near the bottom. The top 1% of earners takes in roughly 20% of the income in this country, and the wealthiest 1% owns 40% of the wealth of this country. And this article admits it’s the smart kids who end up at at the top of this steep pyramid, so how exactly are we an equality-worshiping nation that’s “turned against smart kids?”

#23 Comment By Jmark On April 22, 2017 @ 5:06 pm

Collin: “Can TAC make up their minds about Smart Kids?”

Yeah, it’s crazy. Almost like TAC isn’t just one person or a Cyborg. Sometimes it almost seems like it’s a magazine written by several different individual authors with differing and sometimes conflicting opinions; like they intentionally accept and maybe even seek out diverse conservative opinions. One might even conclude that not all conservatives were on board with Trump’s populist message.

#24 Comment By education realist On April 22, 2017 @ 6:23 pm

We’re definitely not holding smart kids back. What is happening, and the writeup shows it, is parents and schools confuse “faster pace” with “more learning” and therefore, they really only have a plan for math.

“My kid took Calculus in 11th grade.” “So what? Mine took Calculus as a sophomore!”

And Asian immigrants render all that moot, since they’re shoving math into their kids at an earlier age each year. Yet I run into a ton of Chinese and Korean Americans with high SAT scores and 5s in BC Calc who don’t understand how the quadratic formula is derived or logical arguments as to why we don’t divide by zero.

And we have absolutely no game plan for kids with tremendous verbal skills (raises hand) and no way to teach or manage their progress.

The reason gifted education has largely ended is because wealthy white and Asian parents game the “gifted” definition, while wealthy white progressives teamed with blacks and Hispanics to complain the whole thing was unfair.

What we need is tracking, not “gifted education” for all but a few kids. Genuinely gifted students should have IQs higher than 145, and should be able to deal with deeper study, not just gobbling down math sooner.

Tracking would cover a lot of the rest, but that won’t be allowed.

And we call them snowflakes and hothouse kids because their parents are insufferable ninnies.

#25 Comment By Ken’ichi On April 22, 2017 @ 7:04 pm

Are democratic societies inherently incapable of acting in the interest of the brightest children—an upper echelon who relate to the world in ways unfathomable to the average citizen?

If you mean Western-style multi-party democracies, then the answer is clearly yes. Western mistake of egalitarianism is corrosive to pursuit of excellence or talent, and dooms to mediocrity, or even to “the lowest common denominator”, as compared to more properly hierarchical, Confucian societies.

If there’s a common theme that recurs in the memoirs of gifted children and their parents, it’s the lack of empathy with which they’re greeted in mainstream society—a misunderstanding that too often veers into shaming and contempt.

As opposed to the ways academic success are praised, and top students are looked up to by their peers, in Japan.

#26 Comment By FL Transplant On April 22, 2017 @ 9:03 pm

Dude–I’ve got news for you. It ain’t political, and it’s been this way for a long, long time.

I’m a child of the 50s and 60s, and I can tell you that academic success has been pissed on in K-12 for as long as I’ve been alive. Kids who liked to read? Dissed as “four eyes”, Mama’s boys, or wimps–real boys hunt and play sports, they don[’t read and excel in school. Do well in school? Teacher’s pets in elementary school and suck-ups when they get to high school. Zero social cred in high school for doing well academically–you were better off being second string on the football team than in the National Honor Society. Never saw a pep rally for academics, but spent quite a few Friday afternoons in the gym with everyone else in the school cheering for the football team to “Beat XXX!” that night. Jocks had (and of course still have) special ceremonies when they sign their college letters of intent–pictures in the paper wearing the hat and jersey of the school they’re going to play for. But my buds who went off to MIT, Harvard, and CalTech? No recognition and not a peep. Lots of complaints about “everyone gets a participation trophy” in youth sports–but that HS diploma is nothing more than a participation trophy for the vast majority of kids and no one seems to complain about that.

I’m not bitter despite how the above may read–I was a smart kid, worked hard, got a full ride to a highly selective school, and have had a great life as a result. I far surpassed those whose life peaked in high school and plummeted the day after they graduated, and I was smart enough to figure out that there was life after high school and education was the key to success in that life (not to mention that I enjoyed my school years). But don’t try to tell me that there’s some librul leftist plot against smart kids of the “the tall poppy gets cut off, the nail that sticks out gets hammered” type. American culture’s been cutting and hammering smart kids since at least Eisenhower was President–and from what I see it still is.

#27 Comment By Nelson On April 22, 2017 @ 11:33 pm

Why did this have to end up as an attack on welfare? Wealth redistribution can only help give opportunities to people who otherwise wouldn’t have them. That’s one reason I no longer call myself a conservative. According to so-called conservative philosophy, every little problem is caused by us feeding and schooling poor people with money that rightly belongs to people so rich they couldn’t possibly spend everything they have.

#28 Comment By Thomas Hobbes On April 23, 2017 @ 2:46 am

Yes, America hates overachievers and doing well in school will mostly hurt children socially unless they are at an elite school where everyone is expected to be smart. America loves the fabulously wealthy though, whether they made their money through investment, sports, movies, inventions, music, internet ponzi schemes, inheritance, shady real estate deals… We just need to spend more of our education dollars to insure those .01 percenters in intelligence make it to the .01% in income as well to compensate for unpopularity in high school. We can’t let them be stuck in just the 1% because that would be a waste of brain resources, besides nobody who isn’t one actually likes the doctors, lawyers, engineers, dentists, actuaries, and mid/upper level managers who make up that 1% group.

I have dealt a lot with college and grad school level kids in that 1% to .001% IQ range, and have been generally unimpressed by the hyper accelerated ones. It’s great for getting them successfully into top level post graduate academic programs and an early start at a high earning career, but doesn’t seem to translate into any increased likelihood of long-term success compared to their similarly smart peers who went through school at a normal pace. The hyper accelerated ones do seem less happy and more socially stunted though. Super smart kids’ brains don’t mature appreciably faster than those of normal kids, puberty does the same crazy things to them as normal kids, and they need the same social and emotional support normal kids do. If any of my kids can get a perfect score on the SAT when they’re 8 I’m still gonna have them go through school at the normal pace (I admit, I’ll give all my kids additional education in whatever they’re interested outside of school). Maximum possible efficiency and achievement isn’t what I want from my children, I want them to be good people who are well adjusted and can function happily in and contribute to society.

If we want to improve education for the super intelligent it would probably be better to shift our culture so that education is actually valued and those kids can go to school with everyone else without being shunned as outcasts (who am I kidding, anybody different is destined to be an outcast amongst 13-18 year olds). Nice as it might sound to libertarians, trying to build a meritocratic caste system in the US is bound to create severe blowback and contribute to eventual marxist/trumpist revolution that takes society back to pre-enlightment living.

#29 Comment By Thrice A Viking On April 23, 2017 @ 3:58 pm

I believe that I could be classified as gifted, and yet I empathize strongly with those who are skeptical of additional programs for such kids as I and a whole bunch of others on TAC were. We have, after all, an economic system that is increasingly failing to provide any but low-paying jobs – if that – for those of average or low intelligence. In the meantime, the top few percent continues to rake in higher and higher portions of the system’s rewards. And the poorly paid should be asked to shell out additional taxes to further consolidate the financial hold of the “best and brightest”? I can well understand their reluctance, if not outright opposition. Can’t all of you?

#30 Comment By Angela Tanner On April 23, 2017 @ 6:16 pm

Thank you for this poignant look at the realities faced by America’s brightest children, and the families who endeavor to support them.

As a founder of a small independent school for gifted students in Santa Barbara California, I applaud the attempt to bring awareness to a largely under-served and marginalized population.

The results of years of research underscore the need and responsibility we have to provide optimal educational opportunities for gifted individuals to receive support early to channel their talents for the positive development of the individual and the benefit of society.

This neglect is unjust and unethical for the students impacted. Education is a great equalizer, and we know giftedness exists in all populations and that families, teachers and the community have a moral obligation to help children from all backgrounds grow, develop and flourish.
As any parent or teacher of a gifted child knows too well, gifted students face unique challenges and require specialized and focused attention to overcome impediments and maximize their talents. We must drive stakes through absurdities such as gifted kids will do just fine on their own and that gifted kids don’t exist in disadvantaged communities.

#31 Comment By Whine Merchant On April 23, 2017 @ 6:59 pm

I would like to echo some of the sentiments expressed in the comments that a public issue worthy of serious debate is hijacked as a platform for rabid social Darwinism. We can cherry-pick anecdotes all day long and not actually make any progress.

What is disheartening is the commentary that reads like an erudite version of faux news liberals-are-to-blame-for-everything sentiment.

#32 Comment By Forbe On April 24, 2017 @ 7:27 am

I would agree that more attention should be given to the tiny, gifted proportion of students in our schools, but find odd your assertion that wealth distribution is holding this back.

Our country’s wealthy will for the most part not be in that 1% of IQ. Some certainly, but most inherited their wealth. The kind of enrichment necessary for gifted kids will be difficult in mainstream schools, due to numbers alone (i.e. 10 kids of different ages in a 1000 kid school) and will require other, publicly funded, schemes to reach these kids. How do you propose to fund those? Most of the research which provides the start point for these genii and is key to our country’s economic and military success is publicly funded? A society lacking wealth distribution is one rewarding an ever richer, ever less deserving elite to the detriment of their nation and society.

#33 Comment By bkh On April 24, 2017 @ 9:38 am

Who cares if you were a gifted student 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago? The education system of today is different than the past. Kids are different than the past. Parents and society are different than the past. The one true constant is the NEA and its ever money grubbing garbage about how much more money they need to make the system the best it can be. It is not money that has failed the Education system, it is the downward spiral of American society that has led to our current educational dilemma. We may not lead the world in Math or Reading, but atleast we have good video game players and some fast texters. Having a trained population on how best to use Facebook will be more beneficial in the long run while we work for foreign-owned companies and bosses. Let someone else figure out advanced math and science, they will produce far better video games and electronics to keep our ever failing society busy trying to beat each other’s high scores.

#34 Comment By Marie On April 24, 2017 @ 10:04 am

My kids had a rough time in school (with the teachers and admin, not other students) because they were above average achievers.

I thought a gifted program would address some of that. Instead, the programs were low quality, mistook indoctrination and extra structure for enrichment, were taught by teachers who themselves were not smart enough to teach creatively or productively, and were basically used to shut up parents by flattering them.

I had one counselor tell me my kid should be in a gifted program because when a group of kids are together calling clouds dragons or rabbits and another says, “that’s cumulonimbus”, that kid feels sad. Goodness, I hope gifted doesn’t mean too stupid or unimaginative to be unable to see a dragon in a cumulonimbus cloud, or so fragile her world falls apart if she says something different from what her peers say.

I had another gifted teacher tell me the main benefit of the programs is that it kept my kids away from the “riff raff” — verbatim. And a friend of mine with a kid in a gifted program talked about her kid having one hour with the “general population” every day. Since when is limiting experience of the world an educational tool?

No, gifted programs are in ill repute in part because they were so poorly used for so many decades. My “gifted” program pulled us out of class to learn now to write in italics and we got to see a pet snake. Whoop de doo. That was 35 years ago. Public schools can’t overall teach smart students any better than they can teach average or below average students.

We home school now. I don’t know if my kids are “gifted” or not, but they are reading Verne and Steinbeck and studying Kepler’s laws and get to hang out with kids of all sorts of ethnicities, socio-economic levels, and academic abilities. I’m glad they know both young people who have a couple years of college under their belts at age 16 and young people who have average test scores but who could put in a full septic system if they were allowed to at that same age.

#35 Comment By collin On April 24, 2017 @ 12:13 pm

Yeah, it’s crazy. Almost like TAC isn’t just one person or a Cyborg.

Ha, Ha, Ha…I am simply finding that the TAC is not consistent on how to deal with smart kids. So we to make sure the smart can thrive in education and go to a good school and run productive companies that employ lots of people. Which is happening and, say, Tech companies are run by extremely smart people. But they are also going to Ivy League schools (Leftist multiculturalism!) and these companies outsource a lot jobs. Or the smart kids of 1990s went to Ivy League schools and worked in Finance Wall Street. (And few become government bureaucrats.)

My guess hard working smart kids are probably doing better in today world than any other time in our history.

#36 Comment By carr klaub On April 25, 2017 @ 11:07 am

When my son starting coming home from 6th grade in tears every day because he was bored, the highly rated district told us his “maps were too messy for harder work.” 5 years and $125,000 later (most of his college money perhaps) we have an engaged student who is successfully delving into deep inquiry at an experiential school, and about to travel to Peru to study development in the Andes.So we were lucky to have our savings and a good private school in town. Without this money and an alternative to the public school, we were looking at a drop-out, disconnected teen with potentially some big problems.

But it became clear to me that some per centage, possibly quite large, of troubled kids start out bored by school as teens and basically told to “suck it up.” That’s a cost to all of us, those nonproductive, wasted lives that end up incarcerated, self-medicated, or just drifting at the edge of society, that is both immoral and expensive.

(As an aside, when the school finally agreed to test him, he scored very high but was still not offered any alternative. The educational attorney we consulted told us flat out-if he were at the low end of the spectrum, we would have some recourse, but at the high end-we were simply out of luck.)

#37 Comment By LouB On April 25, 2017 @ 11:22 am

John Taylor Gatto’s books make for an interesting read.

#38 Comment By Mia On April 25, 2017 @ 4:56 pm

“I’m a child of the 50s and 60s, and I can tell you that academic success has been pissed on in K-12 for as long as I’ve been alive. Kids who liked to read? Dissed as “four eyes”, Mama’s boys, or wimps–real boys hunt and play sports, they don[’t read and excel in school.”

So much to comment on here. I seem to recall reading that even in modern studies of bullying (and this goes for adults too – see the Workplace Bullying Initiative for their study), kids usually get bullied primarily for overachieving. It certainly is not because of social skills, there is a very strong streak of anti-intellectualism that has always been in US culture for some reason. You’d think we wouldn’t have it given people in our history like Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and others who were major contributors and certainly overachieving.

I see a lot of comments here who pooh pooh this problem, usually from an upper class stance. My family background was poor rural whites, blue collar, very very very anti-intellectual. If they had a child who showed any talent for anything, they were sure that talent was evil and needed to be suppressed. I’ve only maybe 10 years ago figured out where that attitude came from, that demographic profiles of poor whites is very similar on education to urban black culture, which also denigrates it.

What this meant for us kids in actual reality was if you were too studious and of course wasn’t sleeping around by age 13, then you were assumed to be gay. One member of my family, a boy, who showed unusual natural talent for engineering was beaten for it, and his mother deliberately refused to allow him to take classes in school that would develop those abilities. There was also huge controversy over educating girls in our family, so I didn’t get my understanding of feminism from school but from having to defend my right to learn to read from the social pressures of my own family.

Another aspect of this anti-intellectualism is what is happening now in business. There are extreme prejudices against intelligent workers, I think mainly because many managers push workers to do illegal things that someone smarter may question, or they’re afraid you’re going to steal their job. Sometimes it’s an ego thing too; you can’t do anything better than the boss, be cooler, smarter, better at your job, more popular with coworkers/clients, nothing. But also the one place where this came up for me happened to be a place that emphasized binge drinking all the way through to retirement, even to the point where they went on vacation and sat in bars the whole time, drunk by 4PM. It’s impossible to carry on a conversation with them unless it’s about being drunk, acting stupid while drunk, and probably once drugs are legalized, getting high.

So what happens is these days, they screen out some of that by using terms like “overqualified” and “bad cultural fit”. I’ve been appalled to read articles about how people who used to work at like Boeing or NASA or other highly technical jobs who get laid off and never get hired anywhere ever again. In a lot of countries and in different historical times, they wanted people with talent to use for the collective success of the country, but we live with such a different mentality here today. I’ve had students from overseas describe their own incomprehension at how frivolous we seem in comparison, worrying about sports, play and “social skills.” These days, “social skills” means understanding all 52 varieties of gender, right? It’s all in the eye of the beholder with that particular question.

#39 Comment By Tony On April 29, 2017 @ 6:29 pm

Gifted Children from Ellen Winner is still the go-to book, but it needs updating for the rise of the Internet.

This piece spends more time mentioning the chestnuts and old wives tales parents have heard of, plus the chestnuts and old wives tales conservatives have heard of, both to max out on likes from this website’s audience, and to cobble together a coalition large enough to make this piece buzzworthy enough to publish, than it adds anything, or cuts through any bs. After all, cutting through bs would cut down on audience size, wouldn’t it?

What’s worse, it’s long.

The local curse of giftedness is easy to understand given an anti-tribal society where families and communities are easy to leave.

Unless a family and/or community are at the top of the heap, then the more gifted a child is, the earlier everyone around him or her will realize they’ll leave. The brain drain rate is highest for the most gifted.

So one has to find refuges. They can be tribal, national, philanthropic, or even zoo-collecting (private schools who say we have smart kids in our zoo so your kid can play with them …). In really insightful countries, such as Japan, refuges can be adoptive — well-off families have adopted gifted youth for centuries.

When I was a child, I had two major refuges. One was a YMCA where I could avoid bullying at my elementary school. The other was a Carnegie library, with all the books I could ever want. In JHS, I discovered competitive chess. That was a sports-like network over two states. Finally, in HS, I got accepted at a summer program, and that was like a magic carpet for me.

One of the best things for me may have been when I was 5 and my school principal explained to my mom in my presence that I was exceptional and there was not much the school system could do for me. Later on, I saw the movie Oliver! and read The Jungle Book, and I saw models for me to teach myself.

That was in the 1970s. But even then, there were gardens of resources any kid like me could pick from. As a small child, there was TV. Gifted kids can jump years ahead via TV because it’s attuned to kids older than they are. Later, there were bookstores. I could buy The Portable Jung and The Portable Nietzsche from my local mall bookstore, at age 13 and 14. Those bookstores didn’t carry such books because anyone after graduating from HS would buy them. We students bought them.

This was in Southeastern Mass. I schooled in the lowest income city in New England, a mill city of empty and second-hand factories.

Today, there’s a big Internet. A big garden, with chats. Wow.

If you’re a gifted kid, don’t depend on your parents or school to do their best. You do your best! The earlier you realize you are you’re best resource finder and consumer, the better it will be.

#40 Comment By Le Sigh On May 3, 2017 @ 2:29 pm

Reading this article and all of the comments really has me questioning what constitutes a “gifted” child. Are children born gifted or are they just products of their environments? Kids whose parents genuinely care about their well-being and academic achievement seem to have kids who do well in life. Kids with abusive and broken homes have to pave their own paths.

I have a niece whom I believe is brilliant- she is 6 years old and already is doing math above her grade level, knows words remarkable for a child her age, and reads all of the time. But on the other hand her parents have encouraged the bejeezus out of her, read to her every night, and enrolled her in school a year early.

I was a quick reader as well as a child, but my mom would read to me every night. On the other hand, she suffered from depression and once my parents divorced nobody cared about my schoolwork- I was basically undernourished, getting free lunch, dealing with bullying and having to manage myself all at 8 years old. I can’t remember a single time anyone asked if I did my homework after they divorced.

It makes me wonder if I would have been very successful had I had these types of parents who really care.

#41 Comment By Kevin On May 20, 2017 @ 10:05 am

I wouldn’t blame American “values” of egalitarianism as the culprit of anti-intellectualism. Rather, I’d blame popular culture, athletics, and evangelical religion. Who’s the “big man on campus”? Usually the jocks. Who is mostly against learning evidence-based information? Religionists. And as an educator myself, how on earth can you teach anybody about anything when they’re on instagram every waking moment of the day?

Who runs our school districts other than parents? the last thing parents want are schools that teach kids to deny religion, sports, and popular culture because it’d make the parents look like idiots. Most parents don’t want their 12-year old intellectually challenging them and their interests.

#42 Comment By Jeremy 2 On June 5, 2017 @ 12:29 am

I see your point, but it doesn’t help matters that the smart people/nerds blew it once they got in charge in 2008. Well, now the bullies are running the show again.

#43 Comment By Northern Observer On June 5, 2017 @ 8:34 am

Rand-ism likes to portray itself as the belief system of the excellent and natural, but in its manic greed and suspicious nature it betrays its roots in the souls of failed shopkeepers and bankrupt small businessmen and entrepreneurs, who being insufficiently fortunate or resourceful to live in the World as it is, play the game and rise in the status hierarchy,instead fall into a murderous resentment and fantasize about a Utopian future where they are capable and successful and their scapegoats – the form 6 of the health and welfare act, the form 33B of the IRS, the secretary of the department of motor vehicles, etc… – are stripped and left to starve in a “free” market that does not need them – the inversion is too obvious, having failed in Reality the randian fantasist imagines others in his place and taking his place in his failure. This betrays the essential bad conscience of the randian; he knows his place in society and the market is more or less Just, he simply doesn’t want to pay the price of failure, the pain of change or self improvement and so imagines others suffering his fate instead of living through his.

Gifted Children are not natural Randians, they are above such lesser minds, such lesser souls. Chougule has dragged them down to his level to ennoble his plebeian ideology of milk and honey. It is to laugh.

#44 Comment By TR On June 5, 2017 @ 8:36 am

Ever hear of Advanced Placement? In Florida the “gifted” graduate from public high schools with GPAs of 6.0 or more thanks to extra points for AP, Dual Enrollment, and Honors. (And then go on to top universities.)

By the way, weren’t all those guys who got us into Vietnam, Iraq, etc., etc., among the “Gifted?”

#45 Comment By DavidTheCat On June 5, 2017 @ 12:40 pm

I am glad this doesn’t blame special ed children. As a child who was both special ed and above average I and my brothrr ended getting double short ended by our school. He got out into a magnet school well I ended up living in a group home as one of those autistic mini professors.

#46 Comment By Adriana I Pena On June 6, 2017 @ 10:30 am

1) You might want to tone down your condemnation of anti-intellectualism unless you include in your condemnation anti-vaxxers and climate change deniers, who delight in telling how they know more than scientists who have spent time acquiring their knowledge and using it. If anti-vaxxers and climate change deniers are your political allies, then remember about glass houses and stones.

2) The reason we have social programs is to make sure we catch ALL the gifted ones. Lack of proper nutrition stunts brains, even the ones with the best genes. Having to deal with basic survival cuts on the time and energy needed to develop one’s gifts. Parents who have to work two jobs and face long commutes will not be available to properly encourage learning.

3) While Ashkenazis have a high IQ, they also belong to a group of people who highly value learning. Same as Asians. If the Americans highly value sports instead, well… By the way, I come from Argentina, and the idea that a University should have a sports team is just… quaint. The sports culture that enshrines jocks and mocks “nerds” have a lot to do with discouraging bright kids.

And no amount of schooling can substitute for love of learning. Abraham Lincoln had minimal schooling – fit for a farmer. But he loved to read and learn. As for the inherited IQ he got… well, no one thought that his parents were special in any way.

#47 Comment By Doya On June 15, 2017 @ 6:39 pm

IQ is a talent. It may not appear as such, but it is. But like any talent, it is subject to the abilities of the individual, much like playing a piano is subject to manual dexterity and football hand and eye coordination. So, it’s possible to improve IQ. But, like these other talents, only inasmuch as the skill of the individual limits. In other words, if you attempt to improve a child’s IQ, you will like other talents, experience a wall of discontent, where—it’s impossible to extend that number any further. But, IQ is emphatically not intelligence. And herein lays the resistance. Sorting children into bins of ability based on a “quantifiable” result certainly cheapens the process of finding so-called intelligent people, but it does not, nor will it ever, locate that elusive product we call intelligence. So, drop the IQ nonsense, it doesn’t suit grown-ups, and appears petty, Narcissistic and Egotistical when argued.

#48 Comment By mrscracker On July 7, 2017 @ 1:00 pm

I read Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers” which touched on the subject of highly intelligent children, but it sounds as if a high IQ is only one part of a successful future.
Character, work ethic, etc. end up being just as important.

#49 Comment By Argon On July 7, 2017 @ 5:55 pm

I suspect the environment for gifted and driven kids is better now than it was in the 70s. There are AP courses, college classes and online instruction that provide more challenging opportunities for today’s students than I ever though possible. And thank you, Bill Gates, for demonstrating that nerds can become as famous and admired as sports heroes and rock stars.

Of course, if you really want to drive success in academics, you make sure it’s valued at home, in the community and among your kid’s peers. Schools can only do so much in the absence of other support.

What really makes great schools is being filled with good kids and parents who value education.