All gifted children are unique: no two are alike. I say this out of need, for there is a force in the gifted community that says they are all the same. What is this force? The force of gifted labelling. Parents are encouraged, by psychologists who charge large fees, to secure for themselves an IQ test and a gifted label. These labels come in various sizes: moderately gifted, highly gifted, exceptionally gifted and profoundly gifted. Once the proud possessor of a gifted label, the child - and parent - are expected to accept this new identity of their child as being of this newly labelled type. Well, as they say, I don't buy it.
If you have two children and both are profoundly gifted with an IQ of 18o, are we to think that these two children are the same - that they are, in effect, two identical manufactured goods? This is the underlying implication of the "same" IQ result. In some way they are identical. That is the proposition of IQ testing. They are both children of the "same" smartness. Well, even if their subtest results are the same, too - that is the tests of different abilities that go up to make the total IQ score - I would argue that these children are still not the same.
For a start each child has unique interests, unique knowledge, unique passions, unique talents, unique outlooks, unique ambitions, unique thinking styles, unique drives. Each child is one of a kind, never to be reproduced again. They are NOT identified by a number, an IQ test result. There is nothing unique about an IQ result. An IQ test tells you where you are in relation to others on a subset of convergent thinking skills. It doesn't tell us how you arrived at the answer. It doesn't tell us what thought processes you went through to get to the answer. It only tells us that you got the answer.
Let us look at our two PG kids, above. Both have an IQ of 180. One of them is very passionate about physics, for instance. In fifty years time, that kid wins a Nobel Prize for Physics, for changing the way people think about the Universe. The other kid is passionate about animals and becomes a vet, who then opens his own zoo. These two kids began with the same IQ - but they have utterly different life outcomes. The outcomes could have been even more different - but there is no need to detail those. For an IQ is not a life: it is a statement of convergent reasoning ability - and indicates the power to think in a convergent style. It indicates nothing more than that. It does not say anything about the worth of the child in question - about the merit of the life they will lead. That is up to the child and the parent.
Now let us look at this in a different way. One child is highly gifted at an IQ of 145. Another is profoundly gifted with an IQ of 180. The world of psychologists, education and schools, would have us believe that the IQ 180 kid is better than the IQ 145 child. This is not necessarily so. It depends very much on the personality of each child, on their individuality. It is possible that the IQ 145 kid might be a highly imaginative child, with the ability to create in many domains. He might go on to be recognized as a "genius". The IQ 180 kid, might be a very disciplined child, who has a love of order: he might go on to become an Accountancy firm Partner. Who is the more successful? It depends on your viewpoint. The IQ 145 kid who is recognized as a genius, might change the world, but might not be rich. The IQ 180 kid might be rich, but might not change the world. To decide who is more successful, you have to decide your values first.
I am not comfortable with the idea of grading people according to a test that says nothing about the uniqueness of individuals: it somehow devitalizes the concept of a child. Even if the child is a high IQ child - like all members of my family - I am still not comfortable with it. Why is this so? Because it reduces the infinite diversity of human beings to a single number, on a very narrow scale with roughly two to three hundred possible outcomes, for a human being. That is an IQ somewhere between 0 and 300 is a reasonable range to include humanity - though I accept the possibility of some outliers above 300, as being possible, if a ratio IQ is being used.
I don't think 300 possible numbers can possibly describe the diversity of human beings.
Then there is the label itself. "Mine is a profoundly gifted child" Or "mine is a pg child." This is akin to branding children - as if they were an engine size or a capacity of handbag. It is profoundly SILLY. Why is it silly? Simply because it forgets that every child is unique. By summarizing your child's mental capacities with a categorization such as moderately gifted/highly gifted/exceptionally gifted/profoundly gifted you are not explaining your child's gift, you are stereotyping it. You are placing your child in a box, with a fat label on it.
A child is much more than a label. Furthermore, ANY gifted child is capable of changing the world. The moderately gifted child who is not thought well of by his profoundly gifted playmates, may actually succeed more spectacularly than any of them. Why is this so? Because of the uniqueness of the individual personality: his mind might apply itself in an original way and do something new.
So, don't feel that a particular label is "destiny" for your child. Your child is unique. There is no other child like your child. Even if your child shares his IQ with one million other children - or one hundred thousand 0r ten thousand children worldwide, that does not make your child the same as any of them. The story of your child's life will be unique. Your child will do things no other child has ever done - or perhaps will ever do. That wonderful richness of possibility is not captured by the clinically cold IQ test.
Ainan Celeste Cawley is a scientific child prodigy, aged six. He is my son. Whatever he does or becomes, will never be done in the same way or with the same outcome or creative result, as anyone else in history. There is no one "like" him. If there is another prodigy somewhere in the world, that prodigy is not like my son: his or her child prodigy is unique and irreplaceable. No-one will ever be the same again. The same can be said for all gifted children. Their gift, whatever it is, is unique. Do not let a psychological establishment reduce your child to a number - no matter how big that number is, your child is bigger than that number, more various, more rich, more exciting than that number. A number is just a number. Every child is greater than that - and more individual.
Why do I write this? I do so because a reader pointed my way to a bulletin board/forum as a possible resource for this site. I am not referring people to it, because I was struck by their obsession with which IQ number or percentile, their child had. I don't think that is a healthy obsession. Somewhere along the line, those parents have lost sight of what makes their child special: their uniqueness as a human being. Not their IQ number. A gifted child is much more than that - and always will be.
(To read of my scientific child prodigy son, Ainan Celeste Cawley, or his gifted brothers, go to:http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html
I also write of child genius, adult genius, prodigy, savant and gifted children in general. Thanks.)