What can we learn from letting seventh graders take the SAT?
In the 1960 s, psychologist Julian Stanley realized that if you took the best-testing seventh graders from around the country and gave them standard college entry exams, those children would score, on average, about as well as the typical college-bound high school senior.
However, the seventh graders who scored as well or better than high schoolers, Stanley saw, had off-the-charts aptitude in quantitative, logical, and spatial reasoning.
In other terms, they were gifted .
In the 1970 s, Stanley and his squad launched a full-scale investigate, identifying many of America’s gifted children and tracking them throughout their lives.
The study, called the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth never purposed and is now virtually 45 times in the making. It has followed countless children from middle school into their jobs as some of America’s top politicians, scientists, CEOs, technologists, and military leaders.
Stanley passed away in the mid-2 000 s, but psychologist David Lubinski helped bring such studies to Vanderbilt University in the 1990 s, where he now co-directs it with Camilla P. Benhow.
It’s not a stretching to bellow this the biggest and most in-depth investigate on intellectual “precociousness.” The results of the study thus far are equal portions fascinating and genuinely surprising — a deep insightful look into the minds and lives of brilliant children.
1. Some of what we used to think about gifted children turned out to be wrong.
Ever heard the saying “early to ripe, early to rot”? It basically means doing “too much” to foster a kid’s special talents and abilities at too young an age was likely to cause damage in the long term.
That’s not even remotely true, at the least not according to Lubinski.
That might be an outdated example. But Lubinksi says there are plenty of other misconceptions still alive today, like the idea that gifted kids are so smart-alecky that they’ll “find a way” to excel even if those smarts aren’t nurtured and developed.
Not so fast. “They’re kids, ” he explains. “They necessity guidance. We all require guidance.”
2. Intelligence is not the same as passion.
Quick, what’s the “smartest” career you can think of. Doctor? Scientist?
While you do have to be fairly brilliant to work in drug or science, those are far away from the only career tracks gifted children choose later in life.
“Quantitatively, gifted people vary widely in their ardours, ” Lubinski says. Many of the students in the study did end up prosecute medication, but others went into realms like economics or engineering. Others still are the most gifted in areas like logical or verbal reasoning, building them excellent lawyers and writers.
“There are all kinds of ways to express intellectual flair, ” Lubinski explains.
When it comes to doing what’s best for a gifted student, it’s just as important for parents and lecturers to know what the student is passionate about rather than pigeonholing them in traditionally “smart” battlegrounds and registering them in a bunch of STEM courses.
3. Hard work definitely still matters.
Measuring a student’s aptitude, their natural abilities, is only one part of the equation when it comes to determining how successful they’ll be in life. Aptitude scores can identify a particularly strong natural skills and abilities but are talking about very little about how hard that person might work to excel in that field.
Effort, Lubinski says, is a critical factor in determining how far someone’s going to go in life. “If you look at exceptional performers in politics, science, music, and literature, they’re working many, many hours, ” he says.
( And for the record, there are a lot more important things in life than simply career accomplishment, like household, friends, and overall happiness .)
4. Regardless of aptitude, every child deserves to be treated as though they were gifted.
The study’s focus is specifically on kids within a certain scope of intellectual ability, but Lubinski is careful to note that many of its findings can and should be applied to all students.
For example, the kids in such studies who were given an opportunity to take more challenging courses that aligned with their skills and interests ultimately went on to accomplish more than the students who were not rendered the same opportunity.
“You have to find out where your child’s development is, how fast they discover, what are their strengths and relative weakness and tailor school curricula accordingly, ” Lubinski says. “It’s what you would want for all kids.”
It may sound a bit like a pipe dream, but it’s a great basic starting point for how we should be thinking about the future of educated in America.
If you’d like to learn more about the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth, check out this short film on the project created by Vanderbilt University :