If you are like me, you may often be drawn to articles that talk about intelligence, and how it affects our daily lives. If you are like me, you may often wonder about the qualities that will help our children be most successful (in many ways) as they navigate life, and you think about how to instill these qualities in the children in your care. And, if you are like me, you may be skeptical about some of the things you read; conversely, you may also feel a certain affinity with the thoughts proposed by some. Finally, if you are like me, pondering these things occupies quite a bit of bandwidth in your mind as you search for ways to put the research to use with gifted kids and their families and educators...
So keeping all of this in mind, it was with great curiosity that I approached this article, If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich? by Faye Flam in the Bloomberg Opinion on Economics. Basically the article asserts that “new research suggests that personality has a larger effect on success than IQ.” The article begins with the assertion that science doesn’t have a definitive answer (why IQ plays such a minor role in success), although luck certainly plays a role. But another key factor is personality, or personality traits, according to a paper that economist James Heckman co-authored in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Heckman found that “financial success was correlated with conscientiousness, a personality trait marked by diligence, perseverance and self-discipline.” Furthermore, the article explains, “The study found that grades and achievement-test results were markedly better predictors of adult success than raw IQ scores. That might seem surprising -- after all, don’t they all measure the same thing? Not quite. Grades reflect not just intelligence but also what Heckman calls ‘non-cognitive skills,’ such as perseverance, good study habits and the ability to collaborate -- in other words, conscientiousness. To a lesser extent, the same is true of test scores. Personality counts.”
Additionally, John Eric Humphries, the co-author of the paper, says, “he hoped their work could help clarify the complicated, often misunderstood notion of ability. Even IQ tests, which were designed to assess innate problem-solving capabilities, appear to measure more than just smarts.” He, too, attributes diligence and effort with success.
So what does this mean for those of us who live with and work with gifted kids? How do we recognize their intelligence, AND provide instruction and guidance that will ensure success? Here are some tips that I believe may aid us in this quest:
Above all, I’ve often thought that the biggest gift we can give our gifted kids is to encourage them to “do good life, not just good school.” The benefits of a good life are long lasting and deeply satisfying.
As always, I welcome your thoughts. Together we grow.
Past President, WATG
Gifted in Perspective
A column designed to link the gifted perspective to other perspectives, and to make you think.