I agree with Mr Ng Qi Siang that the standardised tests used to identify gifted students may be favouring those with strong reasoning abilities (“Gifted scheme relevant but needs reform”; last Wednesday).
However, many experts now advocate a school system that caters for a broader range of talents and interests, with less focus on standardised measurements.
Though important, IQ is but one of many factors that determine success in academic and career spheres.
Socio-economic factors also play an important role: Children who grow up in emotionally unstable or single-parent homes tend to have behavioural issues and under-perform in school. In contrast, many successful people grew up in stimulating homes surrounded by books and inspiring meal-time conversations.
But what differentiates the very top performers is the ability to persevere and stay committed to future goals.
To help their children fulfil their potential, parents should inculcate in them what Dr Carol Dweck of Stanford University calls a “growth” mindset – the belief that abilities can be developed through dedication and practice, that intelligence isn’t fixed, and that hard work will make them smarter. Praising children for their intelligence and talent may backfire by making them fear failure or avoid challenges for fear that it may expose their lack of intelligence or talent.
Most crucially, we should encourage our children to dream.
United States psychologist Ellis Paul Torrance found that having a sense of purpose, the courage to be creative, a delight in deep thinking and feeling comfortable about being different from their peers distinguished pre-eminent achievers in diverse fields. Most importantly, they identified passionately with a dream and pursued it intensely.
Their accomplishments surpassed what standardised tests would have predicted and go beyond anyone’s wildest dreams – but their own.
Maria Loh Mun Foong (Ms)
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