Why do intelligent people look weird sometimes


Ivan * is 19 years old and has an above-average IQ. He knows ancient history by heart, but is unable to memorize 50 words. Portrait of a gifted person, a trump card who turned into a handicap in school.

This content was published on October 30, 2012 - 11:00 am

"People are convinced that a person who has an above-average IQ is a little genius, with a giant brain that is advantageous for school lessons and that guarantees him a secure career. But that's not true. I don't feel more intelligent than the others . Different, maybe, sometimes even as a Martian who happened to land on the earth planet and has difficulties to find his fixed points. "

Ivan has just turned 19. A bright young man who loves history and biology. As a little boy he never stopped asking questions: Why do the leaves fall from the trees, why does the cat hate the mouse, why does the moon get smaller and bigger again? His parents called him "Lord Why".

For his classmates at school, however, he was simply a strange tip, a nerd who speaks little and asks funny questions.

We meet Ivan in the station bar, in a small village in French-speaking Switzerland. Although he looks shy and reserved, he gushes out when he tells us his story.

Hostile words

"When I was little, I picked up everything like a sponge. I never had to learn anything." So a model student who, however, has his first problems in middle school. Later also at high school.

"It happened more and more often that I was bored in school and had trouble following the lesson in certain subjects, such as German. The teachers gave us entire lists of words that had to be memorized. I tried but I didn't know where to start. "

The inadequacies increase, the fear increases, and Ivan loses two years of high school. Many teachers encourage him, they are convinced of his abilities. However, none of the teachers understand why this brilliant boy has difficulties in some subjects, and they consider him a lazy man.

On the advice of a teacher, Ivan decides to seek help from an expert to find out new learning strategies. "I wanted to understand why my classmates could keep a list of words in mind after a night of partying when I couldn't even do it after three days of study."

Flying thoughts

The answer comes in the summer and sounds like confirmation: Ivan belongs to that 2-3% of the population with an IQ higher than 125. A paradox? Not really.

In fact, gifted people are not considered to be more intelligent than others. They just react in a different way, less linear and structured. While some gifted students have no problems in school, others express learning difficulties and difficulty in finding the incentive or support needed to overcome these problems.

Ivan knew from childhood that he was "different". However, it took an IQ test to become aware of this. "All parents think that their child is a little genius. But that's not true ... In a sense, I needed a person from the outside who would enable me to understand why I felt so different from the others, what didn't work inside me . "

However, the fear of failure is great, especially for a perfectionist like Ivan. "The night before the IQ test, I couldn't sleep at all because of the excitement. And during the test, I saw traps everywhere, and I always tried the most complicated solution, even with simple exercises.

Family history

The issue of gifted children has been in the media in recent years, and psychological tests - although controversial, seem to be the only possible method of verification - are now being done on children aged 3-4.

In Ivan's case it was different. His mother's negative experience played a major role in this. "I also had an above-average IQ. 30 years ago I was tested by a school psychologist," says the shy woman.

Within a few days, the news got around the school. "Whenever I got a bad mark, my classmates mocked me and the teachers reproached me. When my husband and I realized that Ivan and his brother were gifted children, we decided that they would not have the same fate as I experienced to suspend and let them have a normal childhood, if you can say so. "

No birthday invitations

While Ivan did not have any major problems at school from an early age, the relationship with classmates was always difficult. "At the age of two he was already speaking like an adult, but he had no friends. The same thing with his brother. Nobody has ever invited her to a birthday party, nobody has ever come to her birthday party."

In kindergarten, the teacher suggests Ivan's parents to let their son skip the first grade in primary school and start straight away with the second year of school. However, they refuse to do so.

"We thought this would exacerbate his integration problems." The family hides itself, so to speak, and the parents do their utmost to compensate for these affective deficiencies and lack of incentives.

"We visited all the museums and historical places in French-speaking Switzerland with the children. We set up the Internet so that we could work with them to find the answers to their questions."

As a teenager, Ivan becomes the preferred target of his classmates, so the family decides to move to another community. Excluded from the group and confronted with the first difficulties at school, Ivan lets his anger run free. One day he comes home from school and says to his mother: "If I had a disability, the others would be nicer to me."

Relationships with teachers are not always easy either: "I corrected them a lot during class. Not all of them appreciated my interventions. Or I asked them questions they couldn't answer, which inadvertently embarrassed them."

Gift instead of handicap

Even today the teachers do not know that Ivan is a gifted young man. Or at least they have no confirmation of that. Ivan has not yet decided whether to announce the result of the IQ test. There is great distrust of the school.

"If we had the financial means, we would have sent the two children to a private school. But my husband is a worker and I stopped working for years," says the mother.

In Switzerland you can count on the fingers of one hand the number of public schools that offer special programs for gifted students, and not all people can afford private schools.

"I know that there are more and more demands on the public school, but if nothing is done to help these children, you risk losing a great deal of potential. Ivan often thought about leaving school," said the mother .

Now the Matura is a priority for Ivan. He continues his search for a learning method that will enable him to memorize so that he is sufficient in all subjects. In the meantime, he tries to cope with his anxiety problems and build a little more self-confidence. And then? "I want to study at university and later teach history or French at high school," says Ivan.

The mother looks at her son and says, "I hope that as an adult he will find a stimulating environment, an intellectual emotion that will allow him to grow. At some point in my life I had to put a lid on my IQ and move forward . I wish that Ivan could experience everything differently: giftedness as a gift, and no longer as a handicap. "

* Name known to the editor

Gifted children

People with one are considered gifted IQ over 125. Around 70% of the population have an average IQ norm of 85-115.

Not all gifted children are top of the class at school. Many of them are in the midfield, and around a third are with school failures faced. So it can be difficult to spot them.

In addition to learning difficulties, gifted children often have Speech disorders or problems because of their emotional nature.

The US researchers G. Betts and M. Neihart have six profiles of typical gifted young people created. A valuable tool for identifying such people.

The successful student: Ambitious model student who is bored in class, but does not show it. It corresponds to the stereotypical image of the gifted child.

The provocative student: He is particularly creative and shows his frustration in class. Very sensitive, often on the defensive, tends to challenge the teaching staff.

The invisible student: He's frustrated and not very confident. He negates his abilities and tries to camouflage himself in the group.

The high risk student: He is angry with the adult world and society. He feels isolated and rejected.

The double exceptional student: He has learning difficulties or a physical or emotional disability. His self-esteem is small. He is very sensitive, tense, and confused. Failure is the cause of great fear.

The autonomous student: He is enthusiastic and confident. Follow his passions and defend his views.

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