Saturday, August 18, 2007

My comment on a Slashdot thread: Failing Our Geniuses

I suspect we don't have real data on the outcome for "geniuses", much less for high IQ children. In any case, this was my comment on a typically erratic Slashdot thread discussing a Time magazine article on "gifted" children:
Slashdot | Failing Our Geniuses

We fund special education for several reasons, one of which is to minimize adult economic dependency and disability. That is a clear social good. A secondary motivation is compassion for people who've been very significantly disadvantaged. This funding includes high IQ persons with disabilities such as Asperger's, autism, etc.

I'm not aware of any data showing that a significant number of "geniuses" (a fuzzy concept, I've met only a few true geniuses, and that group included Richard Feynman) are economically dependent. I'm even more skeptical that a significant number of people with IQs over 140, in the absence of qualifying conditions (ADD, autism, etc) are disadvantaged. Let's not use MENSA as a guide, I don't think that's a representative body.

I would even wager that we could eliminate 25% of the school day for high IQ students and have minimal impact on any kind of outcomes. I happen to know a fair number of high IQ adults, and I have not seen any correlation between the "quality" of their early education and their outcomes. The greater impact, by far, is the wealth of their parents ts -- and that primarily manifests not as economic rather than absolute relative outcomes. For example: family physician vs. partner in prestigious law firm.
By way of context, of two special needs children I know well, one is also "gifted". For that matter my wife and I were "gifted" too, and we were satisfied with our rather plain Canadian educational experience.

No comments: