This Study Followed “Gifted” Kids for 45 Years. Here’s What It Uncovered.

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How does one determine whether or not a child is gifted? When psychologist Julian Stanley was gearing up his study on gifted individuals, he decided to go the traditional route — using a standardized test.

Stanley chose his study subjects by giving the country’s best testing 7th graders a standard S.A.T. exam. Overall, the kids scored about as well as the typical high school senior – but the children who scored better than high schoolers, Stanley found, showed an extraordinary aptitude in quantitative, logical, and spatial reasoning.

They were his “gifted” children. In the 70s, he and his team launched a full-scale study called the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth which tracked the children throughout the next 4+ decades of their lives. Some of the children who were involved have gone on to become politicians, scientists, CEOs, engineers, and military leaders (among other things).

While the study outlasted its founder (Stanley passed away in the mid-2000s), psychologist David Lubinski is continuing the research at Vanderbilt University along with Camilla P. Benhow.

Below are just 4 things they’ve learned after all this time.

#4. Some of what we think about gifted kids is wrong.

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They may be gifted, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need guidance, time and patience to learn, just like any kid. Without those key ingredients, it is possible that they won’t develop their talents to match their potential.

#3. Intelligence and passion are two different things.

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These kids have all sorts of interests and predilections, so there’s no need to push them toward “smart” fields.

“Quantitatively, gifted people vary widely in their passions,” Lubinski told Upworthy. “There are all kinds of ways to express intellectual talent.”

#2. Hard work still plays a part in success.

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Aptitude scores can help identify a strong natural skill set, but that doesn’t denote how hard a person will work to achieve their goals. And effort is a critical factor in determining long-term success.

#1. Every kid deserves to be treated as though they’re gifted, even if they don’t pass a test.

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Kids who are given the opportunity to succeed and are challenged to expand on their natural abilities go on to accomplish more, regardless of their IQ.

“You have to find out where your child’s development is, how fast they learn, what are their strengths and relative weaknesses and tailor the curriculum accordingly,” explains Lubinski. “It’s what you would want for all kids.”

I can’t wait to hear what they find out next!