Wednesday, May 21, 2014

"If you're always the smartest person in the room, you need to find another room."

That's a quote from Art of Problem Solving founder Richard Rusczyk, on what he tells gifted kids. The quote is in an excellent article on the online resources available to gifted kids that ran at Mind/Shift today.

One of the biggest problems facing gifted kids is that too many come to think that life should be easy. School work is boring, easily finished, not too taxing. Other kids in their grade-level classes aren't raising critiques of their ideas that would force them to rethink and argue. Then when life and work do get difficult -- as they certainly will at the high reaches of college -- they don't know how to cope. People change majors or even drop out. That's a waste.

So how do you find another room? AoPS aims to be one, as do online courses from EPGY and other places. The article has a list of options. Finding another room is slightly easier now when the other room can be virtual. If you live in a small community, it's just going to be difficult to create another room right around you.

What is the other room for you and your children? Where do you go to find places where there are lots of smarter people?


nicoleandmaggie said...

That's why I'm an academic.

Anonymous said...

I agree wholeheartedly that things being too easy and relying too much, on what I tell my kids is "cleverness" and not learning the habit of effort is a big issue for children who are easily capable of the tasks asked of them. I actually think it's a bigger issue now, because the "room" they'll eventually enter is much bigger and more global. So it's fortunate that they can explore that virtual world now.

What do we do for our kids -- First, we try to have them participate in activities that aren't in their core of strength. For one of our children, this is sports, where she has to expend effort, more effort than many, to keep up with her more talented peers. We also draw the analogy, that in some cases, her schoolmates are doing the same thing, in doing their math homework. This doesn't teach directly how to cope with not being the "smartest" person in the room, but it does help with learning to deal with not belong the most capable person in the room, and she has acquired habits of effort that she uses in her cognitive work as well.

Her effort + talent puts her in a league by herself in cognitive work, sometimes, and to deal with this, we have had to have her participate in larger communities, participating in national endeavors, so that she can see how capable people from the whole country are.


Anonymous said...

For my kids, finding another room has been easier in math than in other subjects. Both have been subject accelerated in math, one has been whole grade skipped as well. For the child who still has a few years to go in K-12, finding more interesting peers is becoming an issue in science and history. I'll have to go check out the article and see if there are any suggestions that my kid will consider.

Calee said...

We went with ZB's strategy for the last couple of years by enrolling our daughter in Ballet. This will be the last year simply because neither she nor I was interested in putting in the required effort to keep going. I think going forward the plan is to take the extracurricular areas where she has interest and skill (singing, art)and give her the opportunities to do so at the highest level possible where she's not the best in the room, but there's no reason she can't be. Learning to work hard at something you also enjoy can also be difficult for gifted kids who haven't been challenged. I want her to see that the combo of talent and discipline can have great benefits.

Jen said...

Over the last year, "finding another room" has become more important for my 5th-grader. We've been lucky to discover two things:
-CoderDojo, an international movement of volunteer mentors who hold free, monthly or semi-monthly "learn to code" workshops for kids 7-17 (
-A local LEGO User Group-affiliated brick artist who holds two-hour "open build" sessions three times a week in his workshop. Creations stay at the shop, but he offers encouragement, mini-tutorials and individualized design challenges for kids who aspire to become master builders. And, he plays electronica, so there are sporadic, spontaneous dance breaks during the builds.
In both environments, she is inspired by, and learning from mentors and peers who challenge her--and make her a part of communities that share her passions.

Anonymous said...

I have to tell you. We feel so lucky to have had our child when we did. We have noticed a trend of some of our 'go to' places (culturally) intentionally having to widen their accessibility and numbers coming through the door by adding elements that are supposedly aimed at children. So smart elements are actually removed and more child friendly items (like cardboard photo ops) are added. Basically, the need for revenue might trump previous culture.