While at the golf course he hired a PHd Physicist to cut grass and do odd jobs. It wasn't his choice. As a state enterprise he was obliged to hire a certain number of 'disabled' people.
Over a few years this wretched physicist slowly revealed how he was pushed through school and university early and was woo'ed to the city of london to do financial modelling and how by the age of 25 with mountains of cash his brain literally shut down.
He was rebooted in hospital diagnosed with depression and put on to the incapacity benefit list and a charity helped him into work via the local authorities.
He told my father that his greatest pleasure was seeing the stripes on the golf course after he'd freshly cut the fairway. He envied my father because he had worked his way from nothing to something where as he had the whole world at his feet, there was nothing to work for, it just came.
After two years at the golf course he stopped turning up for work, he stopped turning up for anything, he'd committed suicide.
This greatly effected me as a child who achieved academic success with (seemingly) little or no effort. A little bit of struggle makes any prize more valuable.
My ever pragmatic Dad said "he cut the grass straight and didn't piss in the tractor cab, he was a good man".
This article about highly-intelligent who lack confidence in their abilities may be of interest:
Now I know how to work. I wish I could do university again.
I could not be happier that my parents did not let me skip grades. There was a kid in my class who was three years younger than everybody else in the grade in high school and needless to say he could not associate with us at all, and it's not like we didn't try.
Sure, I could have finished studies a little earlier, but the defining moments of my teenage years are those spent with my friends, not what the rest of society would deem as worthy achievements.
Richard Feynman was building complex electronic booby traps in his room when he was seven. Before turning ten he had nearly burned down his house with a homemade transformer in his ad hoc laboratory. Most parents would see him as a problem that needed to be fixed, or be so confused that he'd end up being ignored. Many parents can't see the world from the perspective of a gifted child, realizing how slow school seems, how frustrating their peers might be. Many parents wouldn't consider sending their kid to math camp, or Robot One, or having them apprentice for an electronics engineer. Since the adults wouldn't consider it fun, it doesn't occur to them, unless they're very close with their child, that their kid might love a month doing advanced math, or learning physics early.
I believe that gifted kids are fragile. They need strong reinforcement at home telling them to do what makes them happy, whether the other kids dream of being scientists, or a cellists, or a astrophysicists, or not. Since smart kids are also very aware of themselves, they're also very sensitive to the expectations of their parents and teachers. A lifetime of being told how exceptional you are can lead to severe depression if you wind up simply average. Someone with those kind of expectations lumped on them can even become very successful and still spend the remainder of their life lamenting the potential they had, judging themselves for not becoming a first chair, first rate, phd everything.
I'd also point out that it's also predictable and will continue to be true for a very strong reason: reversion to the mean. It's not going to change, which makes measures like designing a good curriculum or at least having camps and programs all the more important.
You could just as easily write a narrative about Joe Average, who didn't have things come easily to him, who struggled, who was never told "you can accomplish anything!", whose parents said, "yeah, we don't expect great things from him", who envied all the gifted kids and their opportunities and their parents who believed in them.
The biggest problem with being gifted is the sense of entitlement that comes with it. That you shouldn't have to suffer like the rest of the plebeians because you are special, or that all your problems are the result of your special curse.
It's just another part of the general case of "mismatch between reality and your unrealistic expectations".
At some point everyone is faced with the challenge of throwing off the yokes of other people's expectations and conditioning and finding their own way.
This, I think, kept me grounded. Yet when I went off to graduate school in pure mathematics, I was frozen. Whereas in my undergraduate years, I effortlessly comprehended the analysis and group theory flung at me, I learned in my first-year of graduate school that had been child's play. Study and work was now required. I failed again and again and it was painful (graduate students are not supposed to get B's).
Everything had come instantly to me in the past, so that almost no study was necessary. Things did not work this way in grad school, and I've been learning the work ethic for the past three years.
Yet my idiot brain still can't help but think "Noam Elkies' discovery about supersingular elliptic curves got him a doctorate when he was 20! Drin'feld proved the GL_2 case of the Langlands conjectures for the function field case when he 19, for chrissakes. What are you doing, dumbass?"
I'm still not sure how I turned out, or am turning out. I am a TA and have a high rating on ratemyprofessors.com, so at least my students like me. I'm learning salsa and hold weekly classic movie nights for my group of friends.
Just for shits and giggles, when one of my best friends from high school (who is a manager at Wendy's) suggested "you should be good at more than just academics, you should be good with girls, man," I dove into the world of game (not the tricks part, the improving yourself as a man and "naturally" charismatic being portion). Hilariously, that same friend now thinks of me less as a "genius" and more as a "womanizer"!
I am not and will never be as intelligent as the ideal my parents and childhood friends and teachers half-jokingly imposed when suggesting I will win four Nobel prizes before the age of 20. For those following a similar path, neither will you. So the trick is to take the cliche advice, stop agonizing over credentials and success, and just live life; learn some salsa, fall in love, do a startup, and backpack through Europe.
However, I have absolutely no ability to attract women and have experienced nothing but rejection for the last couple of years, and I may be beyond what game can fix. My problem is social awkwardness and it's the kind that runs all the way down - with people I am very comfortable with I am still very quiet, inarticulate, and don't have much ability to do conversational improvisation. Being in extremely good physical shape didn't make a difference and I've done Salsa too, where I'm literally always the last person women pick when they're all asked to partner up. I've done a year on internet personals with only rejection, and the same with speed dating - typical results would be me checking off 15/25 girls as yes and getting zero matches. I'm extremely non-picky with women. Everyone I meet likes me, but for sexual interest? Forget it. I'd love to be exactly the person I want, and socialize with women the way I would with men (i.e. just not giving a shit and saying what I want to) but this obviously isn't working for me! So gaming the evo-psychology system seems to be one of the few possibilities left.
Read all the archives of Roissy, Assanova, RooshV, PaulTheKing, KrauserPUA, ApproachAnxiety.com. Pay especial attention to the videos posted on Krauser's site and try to imitate his body language, vocal tone, and everything to the dot. It doesn't mean you can't have your own personality, but it helps you get that "dominance." Go overboard on the aggressiveness in the early phases. Learn perfect posture and don't apologize for a week. Buy Diesel jeans that make your ass look good. Find a style. Get a good haircut.
For you, the easiest "field work" path would be day game. Start by saying "hi" to everyone that passes by. People will look at you funny, but do it until you don't care anymore. Grab a camera and ask 100 people if you can take a picture with them ("it's for a bet, I need 100 pictures of me with a stranger"). Walk up to girls that are sitting and tell them they're cute and you had to say hi. Do the same but with walking girls. Get phone numbers. Stop caring about phone numbers and go for instant dates (get a coffee 10 minutes into the conversation). Make plans for second dates. You will get flakes. Keep reading and keep trying.
Note: If you read anything by LoveSystems or other commercial guys, know that it may be good as a beginner but it probably won't get you laid (especially Jeremy Soul's stuff). Go for bloggers and free material. If you can find Chopan's posts from fastseduction.com, they are gold. Lines and routines are useful as you're learning, but don't rely on them as you grow.
Go to attractionforums's sections on day game and read through past high-voted posts. Read Jon117's journal. Read Natural Game by Gambler (email me for a PDF).
As you're reading all of this, know that field work is always more important, but reading is easy and field work is hard, so while you're making up excuses and being a chickenshit at least use that time to keep reading.
Like I said, it's not easy. I probably put more effort into this than most undergraduates put into their degree.
Extra Credit: For shits and giggles, try the apocalypse opener until you don't get a negative reaction (when it works, you feel like Neo from the Matrix--and when it fails, I've had girls say "I...I can't...I'm sorry! :(" in an apologizing tone after I asked them, without any prior convo, "What are you doing later? Do you want to come home with me?" in an assertive manner.)
Extra Credit 2: Read all important high-commented topics on attractionforums's Online Game section. Set up an OkCupid account and try it with their suggestions. Online game worked so well for me that I had to check my inbox several times a day as I'd send out 20 messages and 15 would reply. It became too much of a hassle as I struggled to keep track of who was who and usually ended up on a date with girls that were much uglier or boring than their profile suggested. But it's fun to try.
Want to have some luck with women? Get involved in social activities (volunteering, book clubs, etc.), don't be a recluse, and never forget how awesome you are. The rest falls into place. Just be yourself and don't think too much.
This pick-up artist stuff is cliche, ineffective, and, worst of all, misanthropic. These people have a worldview that revolves around control and domination, and that's not a healthy mental state.
You're just lucky to have some natural attraction then I guess. I'm extremely confident in myself and sure of myself and women don't give a fuck. I do opera singing and salsa dancing and go to the gym regularly, am in outstanding shape, and am not even that shy any more. I've been on internet dating for two years and have tried speed dating a couple of times and can make friends with almost any man but have achieved precisely jack shit with women.
Trust me, if I had any choice at this point - any choice - other than trying to learn skills in gaming women's minds I'd be doing that.
That being said, I can't work around the fact that my sexual value isn't even just near zero right now, it's precisely zero. I'd probably settle down with any smart and nice woman who wasn't any worse than somewhat below average looking. Things that fall into place naturally for other men don't work for me. So it's basically a choice between never touching a girl in my life without paying for it or working my ass off for a few years to try and manipulate women enough that one or two will want to be close to me someday, and that's a much easier choice.
School work seemed insanely easy, to the point that I made no effort and still did well. At my (private) school in the UK, twice a term we were given report cards, and for each subject we were given A1-E5 (letters for attainment, numbers for effort). In nearly every subject I would get A5. In my GCSEs I did no revision, was up until 6am before every exam, and still aced them.
At that point I realised how bored I was. Since the age of 7 I had assumed I would end up studying music at university (for a few years aged 13-15 I changed that plan to be a CS degree), but at 16 I decided to drop out of school because I couldn't face another two insanely boring years before getting into real education.
The four years since then have been amazing, I got into an amazing company that sent me around the world until I got tired of travelling too much, and that has let me pretty much change my job description whenever I fancied doing something new. I'd love to go to university some day and get the degree in music that I've wanted since I was 7, but I'm not in any rush.
The biggest thing for me was that I was never taught to learn anything through school. Luckily I was musical, which taught me great discipline (recordings and concert tours aged 10-13), and atheltic (was once a really good footballer, though in the last few years I've become very lazy and put on an awful lot of weight). That, combined with making my way in the business world, has taught me what may friends had to learn in school: how to actually work on something and improve at it.
-before you ever cover it in class?
-when the teacher explains it once?
-when the teacher re-explains it?
-when you do your homework assignments?
-when you casually read over the notes just before the exam?
-when you read the exam questions and infer what they need to know?
I'm genuinely curious. I've always personally suspected that peoples biggest problem (me included) is not paying attention in class, or being unable to do so, or the teaching moving too fast for them. I figure if you're really attentive enough, revision wouldn't be so necessary. Watching advanced lecture courses on YouTube where I can rewind any confusing parts and refer to other sources if need be, has been a more efficient learning process for me.
There's also an interesting thing you can do with standardized tests, where you infer the answer from the questions and the other answers given. Standardized test authors are actually really predictable: they usually think of multiple choice options based on common error patterns, so if you look at the answers and think "Well, those two are off by one, and those two have factors that are off by one, and those two are what you get if you add instead of multiply", you can triangulate between them and come up with the right answer even if you don't understand the question.
Actually, I once did an experiment to try and quantify this effect. Throughout high school, a bunch of my classmates would say, "You're not really smart, you're just a good test taker." So I figured I'd take the AP Comparative Government without ever having taken the class or done any self-study. Just a half hour of reading a test-prep book over breakfast. I knew I didn't know anything about the subject, so any score I got could be solely attributable to test-taking skills.
I got a 3 on it, which is a passing grade for many colleges. I got a 5 (the highest) on the tests that I actually did know the subject area, so it wasn't all test-taking.
It was funny though - the AP Comp Gov is a big multiple-choice section followed by 4 essay tests, and I obviously didn't know the subject, so I'd have to bullshit the essays. So I did the multiple choice through a combination of looking for patterns in the answers and using my common-sense knowledge of foreign governments that I'd picked up from newspapers. And then I used the questions they'd asked in the multiple choice section as talking points for the essay. Basically, I was using the test itself to answer the questions on the test.
Subjects like Maths and ICT were largely logical, I could work out most things without needing to learn them. For maths I would just read ahead in the textbook, anything I couldn't already have guessed I'd understand straight away, while classmates would need the teacher to explain the various concepts.
Languages (for me French and Latin) came easily - French was helped by the fact that I've been to france 30+ times in my life, but Latin was just as easy. Just remembered everything I learned (most forgotten now,
Subjects like English and History, I was a very fast reader, so instead of reading along with the class I'd just read to the end of the textbook/novel/whatever, and I found it all pretty easy. I never produced amazing insight into anything, but I could analyse anything to an ok standard without any effort.
The three science subjects, I found that doing really well on basic logic/maths/etc. and pretty badly on anything that needed learning averaged out - less so in Biology, though. But I have a pretty good memory when I try and apply it, so again I pretty much didn't forget anything that I'd read once.
As a broad non-subject based answer: I never bothered to read over notes just before an exam. Much of what we covered I understood before we got to it in class, and 99% of the time I understood it in class before the teacher got to explaining it. Homework was for me a "do as little as you can" thing, I'd generally either not bother handing it in or I'd do it during registration in my classroom at the start of the day I had to give it in. I guess the biggest thing school actually taught me was how to push the limits and know just exactly how much I could get away with. I managed to break more rules than any of my classmates (both in terms of work done, and other school rules) and yet never found myself in detention. That kind of stuff was actually what kept me slightly interested, for example working out the best ways to really annoy teachers without giving them justification to punish me.
The real TLDR answer is: Different children have different skills and different levels of knowledge. Education is designed not to leave anyone behind, so it aims at the lowest common denominator. Hence there are those who would be suited to higher levels of education than people of the same age, but the school doesn't cater for them.
Not sure that was optimal, but it's a data point.
I was definitely very intelligent by IQ tests, but it seems to me that what I really had as a child was focus. Arbitrary tasks -- ones that I set for myself, as well as the ones the world does -- were met with the total commitment that adults usually reserve for wartime. So of course I advanced more quickly.
As for why I had such focus, that's complicated and probably varies from person to person. But did anyone else feel that way?
As a result, I grew up with the message that I was "smart but lazy" and "if only you would apply yourself then..." Teachers always assumed I did a rush job on everything (which before I got ADHD medication was often true). Parents saw grades that were good but not what I was capable of.
That sort of message can haunt you.
On a related note, Gladwell (in one of his books, I forget which) wrote about how people who were picked to be great successes based on childhood IQ scores wound up all over the map; but very few were great successes (most wound up as moderately successful professionals, IIRC)
It's pretty well known that perseverance (perhaps being a jerk too) is much more important than high IQ for becoming rich and powerful.
High IQ is much better for coming up with deep ideas, being creative, etc. Not characteristics that necessarily correspond with our standard definition of success.
I was a 'gifted' kid, and by many standards people would say that I had a good childhood, but I didn't. My childhood was a mixture of pressure, bullying and failure (i.e. getting A's instead of A*'s). My parents did the best they could, but as Philip Larkin said, "They fuck you up, your parents do".
So please. If you have a 'gifted' or 'talented' child, let them know that you love them no matter what, that they don't always have to come first, and that happiness is more important that intelligence.
I think it's a very important concept to teach children.
It's worth saying that again. "A gifted child is just one who has advanced beyond his or her peers". It's not a big deal so don't make a big deal about it. Praise shouldn't be the response to gifted-ness, but rather asking him/her "What do you want to do?"
Learning that the best motivation is internal, not external, is an essential need in our early educational system.
The problem, as I see it, comes from the expectations of parents, teachers, etc. While they may mean well, their guidance tends to be too conventional. They want to fit you into the System, just in a slightly different role.
Joel Shurkin worked for the Stanford News Service as a science writer, and was the first independent researcher to have access to the Terman Study files.
Give me one child with average IQ and a lasting obsession with one or more subjects, and another child with a "gifted" IQ and a bad work ethic and fleeting interests, and we'll see who's more accomplished at 40.
I would think that 6 out of 20 is statistically significantly higher than any control group of their peers.
Sure, that means 14 of 20 didn't, but how many of the 190 not identified as gifted went on to similar levels of achievement? For parity, the answer would be 57. I'd wager the actual answer is no more than 1, with the most likely answer being 0.
It's not that being labelled as gifted as a pre-teen is some kind of express ticket punch to fame, fortune and Easy Street. How could it be? You've only spent 8 maybe 9 years not soiling yourself at that point.
There will be strife and challenge along the way, and not everyone will rise above those challenges, for a variety of internal or external reasons. I'd still prefer to be in the 20 rather than the 190. (Background: in a US program run by Johns Hopkins(SMPY-CTY), I was so identified @11, and while, in the subsequent 28 years, I may not have become an opera singer or run a hedge fund, I've done OK. I'll also observe that some of my past was very easy, other portions were fairly difficult. I could have achieved more, but I could also have acheived way, way less.)
I imagine there's quite a bit of worry that they should be doing something greater.
What are the parameters behind something like this?
For example, one of the key traits for identifying the gifted kids is the ability to learn without repetition. They absorb and retain information instantly, and often become bored or restless if they aren't continually challenged. You might be surprised to learn that among the gifted children are often kids with behavioral problems or full-blown ADHD. But it makes sense when you realize that the symptoms can flare up while the teacher is repeating lessons for students who need it, leaving the others to their own devices.
Some gifted kids are well-rounded, while others display traits that make them gifted in specific areas (excellent pattern-recognition and large vocabularies can be indicators). A good program will identify these traits and tailor an approach that works best for the individual. It may sound complicated, but I've seen it handled effectively in my children's public school, so it's definitely attainable.
Thank you for that.
Does the label "human" encompass all of the variations? Does an IQ in the top 1-2% of a nation make somebody "superhuman"?
(I originally wrote an overly long post full of personal anecdotes recalling the pain of being smart and different, but thought these questions added more).