Higher IQ than Hawking – But what challenges may Victoria Cowie face?

Victoria Cowie

British schoolgirl Victoria Cowie recently scored 162 on the adult admission tests for Mensa, which places her above the scores thought to have been achieved by Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates.

Her father cites one example showing how uncommon she is: “When she was just three years old we were sitting in a cafe and she turned around and said ‘you can’t feed the swans here’ and we asked her how she knew that. She had read it on the door of the cafe, but the letters were backwards. We knew then that she had something special.”

[From news story Shropshire youngster brighter than Einstein.]

Another article says Cowie, age 11, has commented, ‘It’s quite daunting to be compared to great minds, but it feels good also to be thought of as that clever.

‘I really enjoy puzzles and working things out and I think I’ll go on to study sciences, especially biology, when I’m older. I do theatre workshops and loads of sports like swimming and I really enjoy creative subjects.’

She also plays the piano, cello and saxophone as well as the recorder.

‘My favourite subject is biology and I want to be a vet when I’m older because I love animals and I don’t mind blood and things like that.’

Nicole Kidman

The same news story reports some other notable IQ scores:
Sigmund Freud – 156
Arnold Schwarzenegger – 135
Madonna – 140
Quentin Tarantino – 160
Hillary Clinton – 140
Bill Clinton – 135
Nicole Kidman – 132
[Also see my page: Nicole Kidman – a brief annotated profile.]

Victoria’s mother said, ‘We’ve never pushed her or put pressure on her – we’re definitely not pushy parents. Victoria does what she wants to do and we just give her the option. I just wish she’d tidy her room more.’

From article: More intelligent than Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking… the schoolgirl, 11, with an IQ of 162, By Claire Ellicott, Daily Mail.

I wish the best for Victoria Cowie and other gifted, high ability children and adults, but many authors and researchers warn about serious impediments in the way of expressing their exceptional talents.

Not fulfilling promises of advanced potential

In another British article, Why gifted children are just as likely to fail in life, Colin Fernandez reports that “In one of the most extensive studies carried out, research found that out of 210 gifted children followed into later life, only three per cent were found to fulfil their early promise.

“Professor Joan Freeman, said that of 210 children in her study, ‘maybe only half a dozen might have been what we might consider conventionally successful. At the age of six or seven, the gifted child has potential for amazing things, but many of them are caught in situations where their potentials is handicapped.’

“Professor Freeman tracked the development of children who had exceptional ability in fields such as maths, art or music from 1974 to the present day. Many of those who failed to excel did so because the ‘gifted’ children were treated and in some cases robbed of their childhood, the study found. In some cases pushy parents put the children under too much pressure, or they were separated from their peer group, so they ended up having few friends…”

Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting

The article continues, “Professor Freeman is keen to emphasise that ‘the gifted’ are no more emotionally fragile than anyone else – and may even have ‘greater emotional strength.’

“But she said that ‘being gifted means being better able to deal with things intellectually but not always emotionally.’

“She adds: ‘I want to stress that the gifted are normal people. But they face special challenges, especially unreal expectations, notably being seen as strange and unhappy.

“Others such as parents and teachers, can feel threatened by them and react with put-downs. What they need is acceptance for who they are, appropriate opportunities to develop their potential and reliable moral support.'”

Joan Freeman is Founding President of the European Council for High Ability, and author of the book Gifted Lives: What Happens when Gifted Children Grow Up.

See a link to Joan Freeman’s article “Giftedness in the Long Term” in my post Gifted adult development: Janitor or mathematician – adult achievement, or not.

One story of successful growing-up

Deborah Ruf, PhD an international authority in gifted assessment and guidance for the gifted, writes about some of these challenges in her article about her son: One Profoundly Gifted Kid’s — Now Grown Up — Story.

For example, she writes that “learned underachievement can happen to any child who enters school and spends a considerable amount of time waiting for the other children to learn what she already knows. The gifted child figures out how to use that waiting time, and it’s usually not on academics.

“When the school work does eventually become challenging, the gifted child often suffers greatly because she hasn’t had the opportunity to learn to take mistakes in stride, or how to study effectively, or how to budget her time when it actually requires some attention to what is being presented in school.

“A big problem with all of this is that the schools often don’t address the needs of gifted children until 3rd grade or beyond.”

Deborah Ruf

She also addresses other issues, and concludes, “If we had forced Charlie to fit into school, to stay in classes that weren’t working for him and with people who didn’t ‘get’ him or even like him, he would not have developed the interpersonal skills that led him to friendships, a happy marriage, and a sense of connection and belonging that he clearly has now.

“The best compliment I have ever gotten about Charlie is, ‘He seems so normal!’ And that’s exactly we want for our children, isn’t it?”

Dr. Ruf is co-author of the book Successfully Parenting the Gifted Child and author of Losing Our Minds: Gifted Children Left Behind.

See the Ruf Estimates of Levels of Gifted Online Assessment on her site.

Also see more articles on Gifted children and teens.

Originally posted 2011-03-25 20:11:30.


What do you think of this topic?