I meet constantly children with high potentiality so called gifted children or high potential (HP) children. Whatever is the school environment in which evolve pupil and whatever is his/her social origin, it is possible that you have one or several children with high potentiality in a class 1.
These children have an IQ equal or upper to 130. They are brilliant and have extremely interesting conversations for their age. Their vocabulary is extended. Sometimes, they have learnt to read alone, they have many questions. And every question brings other questions.
Many adults think that they are “small geniuses” or ” perfect children or either ” mini adults ” who make a success of everything with a disconcerting ease. They will always succeed. We think that because they are intelligent. Indeed, this prejudice comes from the idea that we have about intelligence. Recently, thanks to Howard Garder 2, we have learnt that it does not exist a single form of intelligence. A competence quantitatively high in the verbo-linguistic, logico-mathematical, social, spatial or other domain does not necessarily bring an absolute success.
So, they are often in academic failure. Too brilliant, they are sometimes depressing. Some succeed socially and others fail. What they have in common is the pain to live with a different functioning out of normality which they try to mask. This is why we have to observe their performance through a test of IQ (The WISC) but also their personality and their emotional state thanks to complementary tests (Rorschah, Patte noire or other). The test of IQ allows to place the pupil on the curve of Gauss and to confirm that he/she is a part 2 to 3 % of the population said high potential. The WISC is especially a tool allowing to accompany the child in his/her peculiarity.
The author Elsa Autain-Pléros asserts moreover that a third of the gifted children are in academic failure. The diversity of the profiles makes difficult the detection of these gifted kids 3. Their dissatisfaction at school or in their family can sometimes lead to depression or an extreme violence. They are often worried.
It is nevertheless essential to detect them because these children have an immense potential to offer to the company. But also, faster they will be detected, faster we can answer to their peculiarity and prevent them from feeling bad. The people with high potentiality can easily be in the excess so much in the positive as the negative. It is important that these children can grow up by knowing why they are so particular in a group. Not knowing who they are, they can develop low self-respect and self-esteem, what will have an impact on their relationships with others and their school performances.
Contrary to the majority of the population, the people with high potentiality use their right hemisphere. It means that they think in arborescence : an idea engenders other ideas. Their analog thinking is rich and complex : they associate many ideas. With the difficulty of sorting out information and channelling their thought. Their thought is also conditioned by the emotional filter. While the majority of the population use the left hemisphere: their thought is linear. Their reasoning is made stage by stage, which is favored in the school learnings.
In the case of a child who would live badly his talent, imagine yourselves in a group of children of average intelligence (IQ of 100). By fear of incomprehension and judgment, you express yourselves more often at home than at school not to awaken the mockeries of your classmates. Every time the professor expresses himself, you cross what he says by the filter of the emotions. According to your emotional state, you find (or not) the solution or the various solutions. In front of an exercise of mathematics, you find it without knowing the process of your thought while the professor insists on this process. Without the process, the professor is then dissatisfied of your answer even if this one is valid. The explanations of the professor then are far too long for you but suit to your colleagues of class. You are bored. You begin dreaming. In time, you can be in secondary school without ever having learnt to study with method and it causes damages.
It is thus necessary to work with these children and to make them gain some confidence. Our work consists in reconciling them with their image while working on their skills. They have to learn the methodology and the ability to express a reasoning via all the stages. Otherwise, they risk to lose taste of learning. And it is to be avoided especially as these children do not distinguish between their identity and their performance.
Let us add that besides these difficulties, 10 % of the children with high potentiality have deficit of attention. 25 % of them are dyslexic or dyspraxic. They can also have dysorthographia or dyscalculia 4.
A hard-working child who succeeds well in school can be a child with an average intelligence and a child with a difficult behavior or with mediocre results due to his particular cognitive functioning can be a child with high potentiality.
Betts and Kercher 5 highlighted various profiles of children with high potentiality:
Type I– The Successful – Efficient learners
Type II– The Challenging – Creative and extrovert learners
Type III– The Underground – Learners with inhibited high potential
Type IV– The Dropouts – leaners with under achievements
Type V-The Double-Labeled – Learners with disorders
Type VI– The Autonomous Learner – Autonomous learners
Israel is well known to answer adequately to these children. In order to detect them better, they take collective IQs tests to all the young teenagers to determine which one will participate in a special program 6.
I am convinced that these children are an asset for any nation. I think that it is our duty of contributing to their happiness so that they become happy and self-confident adults.
- Autain-Pléros, Elsa. Je suis précoce, Mes profs vont bien. Lyon: Chronique Sociale, 2013, p 12.
- Gardner, Howard. Les intelligences multiples. Retz, 2004.
- Autain-Pléros, Elsa. Je suis précoce, Mes profs vont bien. Lyon: Chronique Sociale, 2013, p 17.
- Autain-Pléros, Elsa. Je suis précoce, Mes profs vont bien. Lyon: Chronique Sociale, 2013, p 34.
- Betts, G.-T. & Kercher, J.-K. Autonomous learner model- For the gifted and talented. ALPS Publishing, 1985.
- Gauvit, Nicolas. Les surdoués ordinaires. Paris : PUF, 2014, p20.
- Adda, Arielle. Le livre de l’enfant doué. Paris : Solar, 2008.
- Adda, Arielle & Catroux, Hélène. L’enfant doué, l’intelligence réconciliée. Paris : Odile Jacob, 2003.