Is High IQ Sufficient to Identify a Gifted Child?

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Schools have a responsibility to provide the best education they can to every child. Part of this duty is the identification of those with learning difficulties and also the gifted and talented. Both groups of children require different support from the school environment, but learning difficulties are often prioritised above helping the gifted. After all, schools want to make sure there are no barriers to education, and the natural inclination is to see a gifted child as one that has no difficulty with accessing education.

Sadly, this can cause problems for the gifted child. If the school does nothing to challenge them, a gifted child can deal with their boredom in a variety of ways. The best case scenario is that they find ways to educationally challenge themselves, or have a family with the time and resources to find activities designed to stretch them. However, the less positive outcome is a gifted child with huge potential to achieve that becomes bored and disillusioned with schooling, and learning in general. Realising that they only need to do the bare minimum to keep up, or sometimes not caring when they fall behind, it can be the beginning of a downward spiral into behavioural problems such as truancy, depression and even petty crime. At this point, the school becomes focused on the behaviour, rather than the problem, and once a child is labelled as a troublesome student, it can take a huge effort to reverse the process.

The definition of a ‘gifted child’

In order to prevent this from happening, the first step is the correct identification of a gifted child – something that all parents and education professionals need to be able to do with confidence. Having been in education for over thirty years, I have come to the conclusion that the word ‘gifted’ is overused, and frequently applied to children who are simply very bright. In the 1930’s, the official indicator for a gifted child was an IQ above 130, but is this sufficient?

In order to illustrate how extraordinary a gifted child can be, I’d like to offer some anecdotes about a French student that myself and tutors in my agency have been working with for the past year.

The parents of the teenaged boy in question got in touch because he had been expelled from a prestigious private school in Beijing. The school simply hadn’t found the right way to engage him, or deal with a group of troublesome students with whom the boy had got involved. The family found themselves in a terrible situation: their child had been expelled from a prestigious private school, he had effectively lost a semester of work, thus damaging his grade point average, and it seemed impossible for him to be able to attend any decent university, let alone the Ivy League school he had his sights upon.

Several months later his life has turned around and we are starting to see what this young man is capable of. Recently, he completed one semester of an AP Literature course in ten days – a course that usually takes 16 weeks to complete. He scored more than 92% – his tutor didn’t even have to grade the last three assignments as he had already achieved an A grade. This is an American college level course, but he completed it at this high level in this extraordinary timeframe.

Another illustration is the reaction of a Cambridge professor who kindly agreed to tutor him for three weeks during the summer vacation. The student attended a one-on-one tutorial with the head of maths of Churchill College for three hours everyday, and thrived on it. The professor later told me that he had had reservations about teaching such a young student, but that he had found the experience ‘refreshing’.

Why high IQ should not be the only criterion when identifying gifted children

These anecdotes demonstrate that high IQ is not sufficient to determine whether a child is gifted. An IQ test wouldn’t reveal all of the other traits that are seen in truly gifted children; their tenacity, for example, or their ability to produce exceptional work in exceptional circumstances. The truly gifted child will develop an incredible work ethic when given the right support and stimulation.

Children like the student described are rare, but they have the capabilities to go on and do incredible things for society. A school system that cannot give such children what they need can crush the enthusiasm out of them and also deny society the benefits of their abilities in years to come. Coping with a gifted child can be a challenge – the young man I described has needed ten tutors this year to give him the required breadth and depth of tuition, but the benefits cannot be denied. As education professionals we must encourage and nurture gifted children, otherwise society will suffer in the long term.

Adam Caller has been directly involved in education for the entirety of his career, and has tutored students of all ages. He has received specialist training in dyslexia and Attention Deficit Disorder and is very sensitive to children’s educational difficulties. As founder of Tutors International, a worldwide organisation providing experienced private tutors to work with children of all ages and nationalities, Adam has turned his expertise to recruiting, training and placing other tutors to help families. Tutors International has extensive experience of tutoring gifted children and ensuring that they can reach their full potential.

Tutors International specialises in providing tutors for a wide variety of situations, from helping students re-take critical exams, helping pupils with the transition of moving between international school systems, and supporting youngsters with AD/HD and dyslexia. They provide a bespoke service to find the right tutor that suits the child’s needs and aspirations, and if a full-time live-in tutor is required, Adam personally ensures that the assigned tutor is the right match for the family and fits in the environment.

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EQ – Emotional Intelligence and Its Shameful Absence From the Modern Curriculum

Dear bloggers & Face Book users: please help us grow our little music school by sharing and reblogging this post – thank you – S


We all know about IQ, and many will have had personal experiences where this often venerated measure of an individual’s cognitive ability not only misrepresented a person’s true technical aptitude, but completely failing to predict their performance in a modern workplace and/or society. Since the 1990’s and the greater exposure of emotional intelligence thanks to Daniel Goleman and his contemporaries, this topic has become more mainstream and gained a high level of acceptance amongst managerial circles and business gurus. Indeed, EQ (or Emotional Quotient) has infiltrated many aspects of HR and in particular managerial training in modern societies.

We all inherently know that an individual who can recognise and control their emotions and recognise the emotions of others in real time, is a much better communicator in general. Most will also recognise that such individuals are generally more effective and productive in the work environment (and life in general) when compared to someone of the same intelligence who is not as emotionally attuned.

Except for lofty heights of research and development specialists, it has reached the point where many will accept the notion that EQ is even more important than IQ in any role where communication is important, and even for many roles where it is not. As emotional intelligence and the ability for individuals to communicate with one another is so heavily tied to a person’s overall mental health the benefits extend well beyond the business life to the personal one. Anyone with even a rudimentary appreciation of the overall social and economic long term costs of mental health issues (the unspoken illness) will recognise the massive implications that such an improvement in society would offer to everyone.

So why is this not taught in high school, primary school and even kindergartens? It is likely that many people at this point would come up with at least a few of the multiple arguments against this proposition (even if only to predict what others might say) and I will attempt to address each one in turn to further this argument.

Some of the typical arguments against could be:

1. The perception that emotion intelligence breeds passive people who are less likely to stand up for themselves. Being able to identify and control your emotions doesn’t mean you are a doormat, let’s make this important statement very clear, it simply allows the individual to better analyse the situation and react appropriately. If the appropriate reaction to a given situation is the use of force, then that is the combined decision of emotional identification and logical reason, but even extreme force will greatly benefit from it being mostly detached from any emotion that caused it. This simple concept may be very alien to many people who always tie the use of force/violence to the emotion of anger or equivalent. This purveys all the way down the negative emotional side to reinforce the belief that without negative emotions spurring on an individual, they will not act in their own defence or interests when wronged. This stems from the inability to separate emotions into a part that helps the individual recognise a wrong, and the part that fuels the response. Emotions don’t have to fuel a response and it is a generally accepted belief that the more they do, the more dangerous and unpredictable the outcome. It is often forgotten that self-confidence is a cornerstone of emotional intelligence, and a self-confident individual will defend themselves when wronged without the need for anger to drive a response.

2. The perception that teaching behaviours is the soul right of the parent or guardian. This also ties in to people who would argue that it is the realm of the private or religious sphere. Modern emotional intelligence training and courses can very easily be made into a very neutral mental tool set (as it mostly is at its core). As emotional intelligence doesn’t explicitly state how to react to the perceived emotions, it cannot be accused of influencing any moral leanings or learnings. The only exception to this is the necessity to learn rudimentary empathy to be able to recognise basic emotions in others. Something that is principally acceptable for the vast majority of individuals and institutions.

3. The perception that this is only another additional burden in an already overcrowded curriculum and should be done by the parents. The inability of modern educational academics to agree on a suitable curriculum best illustrates the failing of the pure focus on IQ and knowledge quantity as the means to best prepare the younger generation for the rigours of working life. It will always degenerate into an argument of which part is more important than another, and given the infinite quantity of knowledge available this is a fruitless circular argument. Out of this inward looking drudgery is final emerging an ever more accepted notion that the knowledge itself is not the important matter, it is learning how to find, rate and most effectively utilise knowledge, which is the most valuable learning of all. How we search for, perceive, understand, utilise and pass on information (written and verbal) is a more valuable a measure of an individual’s usefulness to society then any volume of information on its own will ever be. Other than the three R’s (or better said their technical components), the majority of this is achieved through communication and focus, something which emotional intelligence is an undeniable key of. The haphazard, sometimes contradictory and often mostly unexplained way that emotional intelligence is taught by most parents can no longer be seen as the optimal way for this critical information to be effectively passed on. Despite many a parents best efforts, it will be just as big a hit-and-miss affair over the greater percentage of the population than years of geography, history science, maths, language (beyond the simple 3 R’s) or any other subject for that matter in fostering an interest in those subject and an appreciation as to how each one can be valuable in understanding ourselves, others and the world around us.

Being taught for five hours how a subject helps us understand ourselves and others and why it can be useful in developing the way we go through life, followed by ten hours of subject matter itself will always be considerably more valuable than simply twenty hours subject matter on its own. Emotional intelligence is the highest form of this type of learning. Effectively teaching us how we work and why we react the way we do at a base level, and most importantly, giving us additional tools to take control of ourselves to better achieve our aims in life.

4. The perception that there is insufficient teaching material and/or disputed techniques, material or approaches for emotional intelligence to be taught in schools. The continual developments in infant and young children’s education can often be easily gathered under the umbrella of emotional intelligence learning. The material and understanding of which is one of the fastest growing areas of understanding. Early learning is slowly gaining the prominence it has always deserved (mostly due to the greater importance placed on mental health, and subsequently, emotional intelligence). On the other end of the scale there is also extensive material as part of professional management training (most of which is just as applicable for late primary school and early high school).

EQ is now mainstream in all progressive management training and many early learning teachings for young children. So why is this critical curriculum still mostly absent from our primary and secondary institutes and not available to the general public? Its full and immediate implementation in high school and primary school is paramount to get this vital skill out to the general community.

All thought processes and techniques are a process of repetition learning. It is time we realise the critical worth of self-awareness and self-mastery in our society and allocate it the time required to promote this single most valuable life skill for the betterment of all of us.


If you still need convincing or would just like some good material, let me know, it is important we get this into the vision of as many people as soon as possible, this is a great opportunity to turn over the next leaf in our public education system and social education standards in general, let’s not waste time!


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