Clever children are best educated in ordinary schools where they can mix with less able pupils according to a National Children’s Bureau report on gifted children in Britain.
The study found that more middle class children are gifted than those from the working class, that gifted children are better adapted than most children and that girls are not as clever as their teachers often think. The report does not believe in the popular idea that there are many exceptionally bright children whose talents are never discovered and it casts doubt on the idea that very clever children are often very self-confident.
They study is based on a careful examination of the abilities at home and school of 238 ten and eleven year olds. They were mostly picked from among the 17,000 children born in Britain in one week. March 3-9, 1987, who have already been thoroughly studied by the Bureau as part of its National Child Development Study. Nearly half the gifted children had IQs (Intelligence Quotient) of more than 130 putting them in the top 3 percent of the population.
The report says:” It seems that general improvement throughout the educational system is as likely to improve the lot of able children as separating them permanently for different treatment.” It warns that if children of the highest intelligence were educated separately from other children they would no longer be gifted in relation to the group that was formed.
Such children might not have the opportunity to form useful ideas about themselves in relation to a more general population. Many who were outstanding in leadership in an ordinary class might, in the separated situation, be kept from the experience of learning to understand and work together with less intelligent companions.
They study stresses the importance of books and a wide variety of hobbies and interests for the development of clever children. One third of the children studied owned more than 40 books and television was a main interest for only two boys. The higher the intelligence of the children the greater was the variety of their interests. The study also found that parents tend to think that their sons are clever than their daughters but that teachers think too highly of girls. It says:” Teachers could be reminded by this study of a probable tendency to overestimate girls which means paying closer attention to promising boys, making sure that activities cover their special interests particularly in the sciences and manipulative skills where reading and writing need not play such a large part in assessment.