Education professionals and child psychologists have spent decades trying to figure out the secret of raising high-achievers. A landmark study involving thousands of high-IQ kids that was carried out for 45 years may have finally cracked it.
Even if you have genius-level intelligence, you’ll still need a good teacher to achieve all that you’re capable of.
Started in 1971, the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth or SMPY tracked more than 5000 of America’s smartest children – the best of the best for nearly half a century. It’s the biggest study of super-intelligent individuals ever done in history,
Given the current state of the American education system, which is often focused on its lowest-performing individuals, this study is a reminder to education professionals and experts not to forget the high-achievers.
Duke University Talent Identification Program’s Jonathan Wai, a renowned psychologist, recently spoke to Nature where he stressed the need to pay more attention to high-achieving children who were poised to occupy influential positions down the road. He stated that the top 1% often went on to become world-class scientists, senators, billionaires, judges, CEOs, and academics, thus influencing the course of the human race.
SMPY’s study revealed that most children who display a remarkable aptitude for certain subjects such as math and science are often not given the attention or help that they require. Teachers are generally content to let their brightest pupils master the course material on their own, choosing to focus on their under-achieving students. But this comes at a cost.
This often means that gifted kids with immense intelligence don’t receive the encouragement needed to explore new fields, thus finding themselves falling short of their potential down the road.
SMPY states that the assumption of intelligent kids sorting out their studies on their own is nothing more than a misguided myth. A follow-up review conducted over the study’s run revealed that skipping a grade had a huge impact on their development, with grade-skippers having a 60% higher chance at earning doctorates and patents, compared to other students from the study who didn’t skip a school grade. They were also 200% likelier to obtain a STEM-field doctorate (science, tech, engineering, and math).
This only goes on to show that even the most intelligent children may fail to live up to their potential if they’re not given enough support
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Parents and teachers are advised to create a coursework with gradual increases in difficulty for gifted students, thus ensuring they don’t fall prey to boredom. Keep encouraging them to constantly push their limits and provide opportunities for intellectual stimulation whenever possible.
Parents and teachers can work together to identify the kinds of skills and intelligence possessed by such high-IQ students. For instance, many gifted students have exceptionally high spatial reasoning abilities, which are necessary to be successful in several professions like surgeons, architects, or engineers.
It’s time to do away with false notions that intelligent kids are best left to themselves to figure out how to improve their abilities. Parents and teachers need to work together to maximize their wards’ potential and ensure a better future for the world.