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How Do You Educate a Prodigy?

samzenpus posted about 3 years ago | from the killing-the-curve dept.

Education 659

Nethead writes "When he was 8 years old, Gabriel See got a score on the math part of the SAT that would be the envy of most high-school seniors. When he was 10, he worked on T-cell receptor research at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. He's built a Genomic Lab Liquid Handling System out of Legos. He's studied chaos theory, string theory, quantum mechanics and nuclear science. He's 13 now. How do you fit him into the American school system?"

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Why fit in? (5, Insightful)

Hentes (2461350) | about 3 years ago | (#37663058)

He seems to learn enough on his own.

Re:Why fit in? (2)

dintech (998802) | about 3 years ago | (#37663122)

Also, I think trying to fit him in to the regular state school system at least would be detrimental. What are the other options? Is private schooling a possibility?

Re:Why fit in? (2)

medv4380 (1604309) | about 3 years ago | (#37663252)

Collage sound like a better option for people in this situation, and I believe that what is usually done with the successful ones.

Re:Why fit in? (3, Insightful)

mulvane (692631) | about 3 years ago | (#37663362)

Making an art piece out of him doesn't seem to be the best use of him either. I'm sure some college art students would love to minimize his impact on society though.

Re:Why fit in? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37663382)

Just get him some lighters, matches, bottles, gasoline, etc. He'll figure out how to be a firestarter [] fairly soon.

Re:Why fit in? (2)

thegreatbob (693104) | about 3 years ago | (#37663368)

YES!... Get him OUT of the American public school system, at all cost...

There is no American Public School System (5, Insightful)

davidwr (791652) | about 3 years ago | (#37663498)

There are 50 states, each with their own rules, not to mention Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and other territories and possessions.

Within most states there are dozens to hundreds of local school systems with varying degrees of autonomy. Then there are private schools.

In some school systems education quality varies widely from school to school. Even within schools you can get wide teacher-to-teacher variation and even class-to-class variation with the same teacher, same course, and same grade-level.

Some Anecdotes That Don't Make the News (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 3 years ago | (#37663528)

I have met and known two 'child prodigies' that were clearly not as intelligent as Gabriel. But before you advocate removing him from the school system, let me relate to you the story of one of my good friend's brothers, Jay. Jay was identified very early on as being very intelligent and as a result, by third grade his mother was homeschooling him to try to make the most of his time. And she did, he graduated from the local college at age 15. And she constantly pushed him and prodded him relentlessly to do better.

And he kind of burned out. He lives with his brother (my good friend) now and hasn't ever really had a real job. After he completed college, he decided to independently pursue his own interests and sort of realized that the whole educational path he had taken was really him just quickly absorbing other people's works. Striking out on new ground was far too uncomfortable for him. What was worse was that this totally destroyed his confidence. He's never been unhappy with his life but outside of his mother's reach, he's really just kicked back and played video games. I think the greatest work of the last five years of his life has been editing TVTropes -- a site that he became obsessed with after he discovered he could spend all day watching television with no consequence. Jay has never had peers really aside from his brothers. I'm no child psychologist but I think it has had a devastating effect on his understanding on society and also his work ethic.

The other person was a coworker, Tom, who was a very talented software developer. I met him when he was 40 and one time he told me at lunchtime about his childhood. Tom had burned out as well but in a more problematic way. Tom also completed college (Physics) at a very young age but upon having difficulty his senior year, he became depressed and had suicidal thoughts. So his parents flipped out and brought him to a psychologist who diagnosed him with Asperger's Syndrome (which he clearly did not have when I met him) and gave him a bunch of drugs. He discovered he was great at programming software and decided to make a career out of it. He still said his mother's disappointment that he didn't "cure cancer" or discover a universal filed theory was probably the most regrettable thing in his life and it was ever present in their interactions.

"He'll probably find a cure for cancer," Sleight said. "Or something bigger."

I think a more positive statement would be something along the lines of "He has accomplished so much and already done such great research that even if he stopped studying now he would be an accomplished academic." Not to suggest that he should stop studying but to relieve a bit of the pressure. What if he doesn't cure cancer or something bigger? What will this news do to Gabriel the person then? Haunt him?

I would advocate trying to keep him involved in school as much as he desires with external stimulation to help his specialties. Why must geniuses be removed from society? Was Einstein removed from interacting with children his age? What exactly is the hurry? Is Gabriel asking for more time to study -- time that regular schooling is interfering with? Does he have a network of friends to rely on? Is he expected to live a short life like Ramanujan?

My opinion is to let him excel at school and take a more normal path than complete removal and its unavoidable isolation.

Re:Why fit in? (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about 3 years ago | (#37663640)

Yes. So wouldn't the answer to the TFS be "as a professor"

You don't. (4, Interesting)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | about 3 years ago | (#37663092)

You could possibly fit the entire American school system into him.

Re:You don't. (1)

sempir (1916194) | about 3 years ago | (#37663296)

One of my thoughts perzackly. Another of my thoughts is: Maybe he is as intelligent as we should be but..............

How about something besides science? (4, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | about 3 years ago | (#37663332)

You could possibly fit the entire American school system into him.

Except that he's highly focused on sciences. How about some history, art, music, or languages for a few years? Heaven forbid the kid learn something besides science.

Speaking as someone who works with a lot of very smart people focused in very narrow fields: the kid's going to be a lot happier if he has at least some general background.

Didn't any of you read Ender's Game? Remember how, among other things, Ender often longs to just be a kid?

Re:How about something besides science? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37663438)

Maybe every one knows whats best for him, than what he himself thinks?

Re:How about something besides science? (2)

NevarMore (248971) | about 3 years ago | (#37663544)

Didn't any of you read Ender's Game? Remember how, among other things, Ender often longs to just be a kid?

I wish I had mod points. This is something a lot of the above average kids I hung around with didn't learn until later in life. Go run around outside. :D

Re:How about something besides science? (1)

rickb928 (945187) | about 3 years ago | (#37663644)

When he's worn out science, he may well turn to the arts. Or, perhaps, he will work science in a way that will benefit the arts.

Either way, it seems you don't give much respect to people who focus narrowly to great efffect. So Monet would have benefited greatly from a diversion into, say, science?

I for one don't find Monet to have been diminished one bit for having focused on painting. This kid seems to be doing well. In 5-6 years he'll be able to make his own decisions. Assuming he will be to narrowly focused to make free ones discounts his intelligence. Even now, I suspect he could study any field he cares to.

It'd be the same as anyone else. (1, Insightful)

mosb1000 (710161) | about 3 years ago | (#37663422)

You don't learn in school. School is about socialization and indoctrination.

Ass Kicking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37663116)

You fit him in by daily ass kickings to remind him how much of a nerd he no doubt it. Something like that.

Oh fuck off (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37663128)

One of the symptoms of Asperger's is "genius syndrome": repeating without understanding. How much "studying" of the subjects has he *really* done? I was reading encyclopedias at 8 and repeated back what I read. Big deal.

Re:Oh fuck off (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37663378)

One of the symptoms of Asperger's is "genius syndrome": repeating without understanding. How much "studying" of the subjects has he *really* done? I was reading encyclopedias at 8 and repeated back what I read. Big deal.


Nivala would give Gabriel a textbook on a subject — say, chaos theory — and Gabriel would read the book in a few days. He could then answer specific questions and open-ended questions on the subject. He even remembered the exact page number in the book where certain formulas first appeared, Nivala said, hinting at a photographic-like memory.

Re:Oh fuck off (1)

rickb928 (945187) | about 3 years ago | (#37663532)

Jealousy rears its ugly head. That anonymous thing works for you, by the way.

How about (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 3 years ago | (#37663144)

Not trying to fit a square peg in a round hole?

Anyway from what I've read, the guy is a pretentious little git who can't stand working with mere mortals anyway and ends up finishing projects on his own. Maybe one day he'll grow up and realize that even he has very real limitations.

Re:How about (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37663212)

Ah, so he is a mini Sheldon Cooper? How delightful.

Re:How about (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37663356)

Envious much? and compared to you, he is a god, and he can achieve in a day more than you or your pathetic offspring can achieve in a lifetime.

Re:How about (1)

The Dawn Of Time (2115350) | about 3 years ago | (#37663656)

Wow, this kid has fanboys already?

Re:How about (1)

GodInHell (258915) | about 3 years ago | (#37663410)

an obnoxious 13 year old!? OMG WTF!? Never would have seen that coming.

Really though, I'd vote for a combination of computer aided math and science education with as much exposure to college seminars on history, philosophy and the social sciences as he can stand to sit through. IMHO, the trick to producing a keen intellect is to marry knowledge (i.e. theorems) with the ability to think both vertically (apply knowledge in the expected manner) and laterally (take what you know about A to reconsider what we know about B and C).

Of course, that's alot like saying "World peace is easy: just take away all the guns."


Re:How about (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37663574)

When I was 13, I was a pretentious little git, too. It's called being a kid.

Just cause he's uber-smart, it doesn't mean he doesn't have the same social skills your average kid does.

Hell, I'm 37 and my wife STILL says I act like a pretentious git (she leaves out the "little").

This post is probably a good example of that...

Re:How about (1)

JazzHarper (745403) | about 3 years ago | (#37663586)

Or another Billy Sidis. Gave mathematics lectures at Harvard at the age of 12. Lived his adult life in seclusion.

Re:How about (2)

gilleain (1310105) | about 3 years ago | (#37663608)

Maybe one day he'll grow up and realize that even he has very real limitations.

Well, I don't mean to be too flippant, but he is 13. He can quite literally grow up. He's a child prodigy, not a victim of a Disney-movie style body swap freaky friday kind of thing.

In Soviet Russia, Prodigy Educates YOU! (1)

SlippyToad (240532) | about 3 years ago | (#37663154)

Seriously, you don't. You just treat him like a sponge. Leave books around and let him absorb them.

Re:In Soviet Russia, Prodigy Educates YOU! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37663650)

More than books, friend. Projects with others (hopefully almost his equal) is really critical early on (pre-18). Granted post-18 he will be on his own, but (again hopefully) with a large enough group of friend for human interaction / socialization. Yes, he could be self-directed in his specialties - but he will want to know how to work with (or at least explain to) others.

I know a nice bunch of home schooled kids who went to college pre-16. They had a bit of a rough time because there was so much social pressure.

See Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke.

Socialization only, if that (1)

davidwr (791652) | about 3 years ago | (#37663190)

You don't enroll him as a normal student.

If your local school district allows it, you may enroll him on a part-time basis for non-academic classes, club activities, and if the state school-sports-league allows it, non-academic competitive events like sports, marching band, and the like.

If your district doesn't have any way of accommodating this, try a private school or home-school association.

As for academics, try college, home-school, self-study, on-the-job training, and the like.

Heck, he may decide he wants to quit full-time academic study well before age 18 and well before getting a Ph.D. or two. Once he has the skills and attitude to earn a living and live independently, let him quit school. Just insist that if he quits school that he pay his own rent.

One other idea (1)

davidwr (791652) | about 3 years ago | (#37663344)

If there is a high school that has academic courses at his level AND where his social maturity won't interfere with other students' learning, go there for academic classes.

For example, maybe he does NOT speak French and would like to learn. Maybe he's not super-fast at picking up languages. A typical "honors" high school French class with his age-peers would be okay.

On the other hand, if he'll just race through 4 semesters in 4 months, then it's probably not a good idea to have him in a class that goes at the normal "honors" pace. Likewise, if he's as socially mature as most 13-year-olds and the only honors French classes available are mostly junior- and senior-classes, then maybe this isn't such a good idea as he'll be a distraction.

Re:Socialization only, if that (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 3 years ago | (#37663366)

Whatever he does, make sure there are plenty of girls around. A kid like this needs to have some experience being around them, before hormones hit and he realizes he has no idea how to talk to them.

Re:Socialization only, if that (1)

CarsonChittom (2025388) | about 3 years ago | (#37663448)

Hatta, for once I am in absolutely full agreement with you.

American school system? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37663192)

"How do you fit him into any traditional school system?"

Corrected that last bit for you. In all sincerity, there are few schools where someone of this genius would fit in (academically and socially, I imagine).

Honestly, the best path for this kid will be his own - clearly he has knowledge of several possible fields of study... so let him decide where he wants to focus his efforts for now, before he moves on to something else. If his work ethic is every bit as good as his intelligence, you can be sure the world will be a better place for allowing him a little latitude.

What a question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37663196)

How do you fit him into the American school system?

If you have a shred of decency/humanity/mercy within you, then you don't. Maybe some reading [] or also some more reading [] will help to make the point. Public school in the USA basically amounts to training in subservience and passivity. This one is likely to have a great deal of friction with it.

Otherwise having him instructed in a martial art would be a great start. It will provide two benefits: discipline and focus, and the ability to deal with bullies who will hassle him because he stands out.

Go to a university with him (1)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | about 3 years ago | (#37663198)

And make him show them what he's got. I'm pretty sure he would be accepted for a degree, as long as this is what HE wants to do...

Dear god don't do it! (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 3 years ago | (#37663200)

It'll only slow him down. He's destined for great things, and will carve his own way in life to whatever destination he wishes.

Don't dare subject him to the state brainwashing the rest of us proles have to endure.

Ugh, fucking stub writers (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 3 years ago | (#37663294)

Do you purposefully miss out the important parts of linked stories just to pad it out with science buzzwords like quantum, chaos, and string theory?

The actual part of the story which is important:

"That kind of off-the-charts intelligence comes with a conundrum, though: Because he's only 13, Gabriel is not emotionally ready to handle programs designed for older students. His intellectual abilities raise the question: How do you map out an education for a boy at the extreme end of the gifted population?"

you don't (1)

prgrmr (568806) | about 3 years ago | (#37663202)

you put him in charge of it.

Just let him be a kid instead of placing him (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37663204)

How many podigy's do we know who have contributed to the society? I would think none ...
The reason is they don't have the structured education to fall back on... Yes even if it's mediocre structure.

Re:Just let him be a kid instead of placing him (1)

gilleain (1310105) | about 3 years ago | (#37663700)

How many podigy's do we know who have contributed to the society? I would think none ... The reason is they don't have the structured education to fall back on... Yes even if it's mediocre structure.

John von Neumann [] ? Although I'm not sure whether his life history will satisfy the homeschoolers in this thread:

Although he attended school at the grade level appropriate to his age, his father hired private tutors to give him advanced instruction in those areas in which he had displayed an aptitude. Recognized as a mathematical prodigy, he began to study advanced calculus under Gábor Szeg at the age of 15.

So, normal 'restrictive' school, plus tutors.

Electro Shock Therapy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37663224)

To fit him into the American Education System you need to dumb him down a bit. Try some Electroshock Therapy.

How do you fit him into the American school (1)

Stumbles (602007) | about 3 years ago | (#37663228)

You don't; and neither does most children in the US. Our school system its horribly broken.

Re: How do you fit him into the American school (1)

sempir (1916194) | about 3 years ago | (#37663488)

Why would you want to do something as stupid as that. The question should be: How do you keep him (legally) OUT of the American school system.

Lego (3, Informative)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | about 3 years ago | (#37663230)

The plural of Lego is 'Lego' damn it!

Re:Lego (0)

heroid1a (1898046) | about 3 years ago | (#37663384)

Damn right it is... pesky kids... mumble mumble

Re:Lego (0)

rubycodez (864176) | about 3 years ago | (#37663680)

We Legosesers will call our Legoses anything we damn well please

Real Genius (1)

lwriemen (763666) | about 3 years ago | (#37663234)

Send him to college. []

Re:Real Genius (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 3 years ago | (#37663472)

More specifically, send him to med school []

Social Skills (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37663256)

One thing I've seen with several "prodigies" when they are fete'd by the press is how socially awkward they appear.

Being an intellectual high achiever doesn't obviate the need for development of social and communication skills.

The kid needs to get punted outdoors with Bear Grylls for a few months.

No need. (1)

ApepUK (2445232) | about 3 years ago | (#37663258)

What's the need to? He would not benefit academically from doing so, the only downside I would consider is perhaps the social aspect of school. But then, his social skills may suffer but if he is already working alongside other people in a workplace then they should develop over time as normal. In fact his social skills may benefit more from being in a mature environment and not at school where the academic stereotypes can be more susceptible to bullying.

My $0.02 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37663272)

I would advice him to study just one of those fields well - quantum mechanics or string theory take a lot of time to master. Get him to work with a good scientist - I know couple of people that would be happy to guide him in theoretical physics. Also we have couple of unsolved problems in maths if he finishes up the physics. The greatest danger with these prodigies is that they seem to get bored early and get incapable to progress after a certain stage. Not trying to put you down, just sharing my experience.

Is he ready for the school system? (1)

Skynyrd (25155) | about 3 years ago | (#37663282)

The school system is not designed for people at either end of the spectrum.

He could go to college, and he'd learn something. However, he'd need to be in a phd program before he got to "interesting" studies. Is he willing to wait 6 yeas to start learning? Is he mature enough to sit through a "health" class in college where they tell you to wash your hands after using the bathroom (that really pissed me off)?

The real question - is he ready for the American school system?

You need to teach non-scholastic topics (1)

wiggles (30088) | about 3 years ago | (#37663288)

Despite the kid's obvious mastery of academics, social skills are something that are learned by experience and interaction with peers - something that I'm sure this kid surely lacks. His education should focus not on academics, but on social interaction - get the kid into sports or summer camps, teach him how to be a kid and what it means to have fun. Too many books are a double edged sword in this case.

Yes.. (1)

Mordermi (2432580) | about 3 years ago | (#37663292)

"Fit" him into the American school system so that he can held back by silly things like No Child Left Behind. I'm sure a lot of us here had enough trouble dealing with the school systems because of this, I know I literally slept through classes because I was bored and I had already learned the lesson without two extra days of explanation. So, for a prodigy, actually fitting him into the system wouldn't seem very practical. As some others here already said, let him educate himself.

CLEP (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37663298)

Have him start taking CLEP tests. That way he won't get board in a class.

If you find out tell me (1)

Medievalist (16032) | about 3 years ago | (#37663304)

I dunno the answer, but I sure could use it.

I can't afford to home-school or that would be the obvious solution.

His parents seem to be level headed. (2)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 3 years ago | (#37663322)

They seem to be thinking about emotional adjustments and age appropriateness and social skills too. The parents seem to be sensible, so I am sure this boy will make some lasting contribution to science and math, unlike other child prodigies and idiot savants who burn out or end up as curiosities.

Fit him in? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37663324)

Why would you design a school system for a 1-in-million kid?

Seems to me he is doing find on his own, though I am guessing some socialization with kids his age wouldn't be a bad thing.

You don't (5, Insightful)

cjcela (1539859) | about 3 years ago | (#37663330)

You do not 'fit' a kid like that, but rather do your best to understand what his needs are, even if these are unconventional. In terms of learning, he will do well on his own, you just need to support him with the appropriate resources. What he will likely need help with is with developing healthy social interactions and integrating to society. It you focus just on his intellect, he will suffer later on.

Home schooling (2, Insightful)

PPH (736903) | about 3 years ago | (#37663336)

This kid is a prime candidate for home schooling. In many communities, the public school system, or other social organizations for kids are available to the home schooled to keep them engaged in activities with their peers.

The biggest problem with integrating kids like this into "The School System" is that the system doesn't deal very well [] with those whose performance lies outside the social norms (particularly on the high side). You have to have the option of putting him into activities where he will fit and pulling him out if he's a mismatch for their culture.

Re:Home schooling (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37663406)

yeah if you happen to have a theoretical physicists as parents

Why don't you ask him? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37663342)

He seems to know what to do.

You don't (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37663346)

My daughter "dropped out" of high school at 14 and started at a good university. It was by far the best choice she ever made. She was able to graduate college at 19, taking time out to travel and live for a time several other countries, and had better than a 4.1 GPA. So long as a kid is reasonably emotionally mature and has good support from their family get them out of high school and into college.

Dont (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37663354)

You dont. If you have a kid that smart, it's time to send him to a place where he can grow.

Send him off to do research. Ask him where he wants to go. Then do it.

The public school system is no place for him

Freedom. (1)

unity100 (970058) | about 3 years ago | (#37663376)

You provide the tools s/he asks and access to the information s/he desires, and let his mind roam free.

Two ways (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37663390)

A) Don't. Give him the opportunity to explore and find his niche.
B) Do what we do with the rest and drug him into fitting the norm.

We spend insane amounts of money and effort to mainstream those that shouldn't be, and little on the best. A gifted and talented program isn't when a parent can request little Johnny be placed there so he's not with the "riff raff". Never mind he won't keep up.

Have him teach (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37663408)

I think the American public school system would benefit extensively from someone like him... teaching.

Make sure he does something useful. (3, Informative)

mrquagmire (2326560) | about 3 years ago | (#37663418)

I remember graduating with a couple VERY smart individuals, at least according to school measurements. However, once they entered the "real world" they got quite a shock learning that their high IQ and 4.0 GPAs meant almost nothing because they had very little street smarts. They spent all of their time trying to please their parents and teachers but they had not learned what it takes to actually survive.

My point is, we need to make sure kids like this learn how to do things that translate into a means to not only make a good living for themselves, but also contribute to society in general.

Witch (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37663420)

Burn him!

He may know better (1)

Feadin (766801) | about 3 years ago | (#37663424)

You should ask HIM.... duh!

The Davidson Institute (1)

bendytendril (1281160) | about 3 years ago | (#37663430)

Check out the Davidson Institute [] . Their goal is to assist profoundly gifted kids. They've been a wonderful resource for my son.

Despite what you'd expect "prodigies" don't matter (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37663434)

His schooling doesn't matter because past 120 on the IQ scale people don't contribute proportionally more to our rate of innovation. This is fact, check Myers psychology textbook. This is because we don't innovate by learning, but through memory error. It's all in the book "On the Mystery of Innovation." and the theory of innovation by memory error.

Normal upbringing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37663442)

The parents said they want to have a normal upbringing?

Hey parents! Your kid is a freaking prodigal genius! Normal isn't going to enter into any part of his life. EVER!

Best thing his parents can do is let his mind go free. Yes, he needs structure till he's of legal age, but until then, let his grey matter machine run full speed!

Spread the Wealth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37663444)

Don't worry about fitting him into the school system; worry about getting him into a Sperm Bank. The more of his DNA we can spread around, the better.

Lord knows he won't be getting any offspring the old fashioned way, at this rate.

LEGO (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37663452)

All that intelligence and he still doesn't get it... THE PLURAL OF LEGO IS LEGO. I have a LEGO brick. I built a windmill out of LEGO. I have some LEGO. THERE IS NO SUCH WORD AS LEGOS.

Sounds a little like me (5, Interesting)

raph (3148) | about 3 years ago | (#37663466)

I took college classes from 9 to 13, then my parents pulled me out entirely. There were good and bad aspects to my path. At 13, actual graduate math classes were a bit over my head, and I felt a lot of pressure and feelings of failure because I couldn't quite hack them. Also, being isolated was hard, and it wasn't until I came back to grad school at 22 that I felt I developed my social skills properly. But being allowed to focus on intellectual pursuits was really nice in a way, and I actually look back on that fondly. Now I have my PhD and work for Google, and I do geeky things for fun. As one example, I'm noodling on keyboards, and, being me, I'm writing a DX7 synthesizer emulator. Most people consider the math of it to be impenetrably difficult, but, I'm like, "oh, _Bessel_ functions, I can dig that shit!"

I hope he does well and finds a path that makes him happy. One thing my parents did was keep me out of the newspapers (and off the front page of Slashdot, although we didn't have that then). I'm not sure whether that was entirely good or bad - publicity is valuable coin in today's society :)

You don't! But... (1)

moorley (69393) | about 3 years ago | (#37663478)

At this point he has no place in a normal classroom... *BUT* there is an example you can eliminate.

When I was in highschool at West Anchorage High School they had an alternative high school called Stellar. They were too small for any sort of afterschool extra like band, choir, theater or sports so many of the students their would participate in West's programs.

Have him participate in a nearby school in the programs he wants but bypass the normal class room curriculum. Kinda like a playdate if you will but it will allow him to interact in a way he enjoys and not have to deal with the rudimentary education part.

One of my best teacher's used the following phrase: "The best thing we can teach you is the ways to navigate and find out how to educate yourself on what interests you."

This kid obviously has it. But he can participate with school kids his age in the other stuff and learn to socialize. Junior High / High School may work the best but I remember having sports, competition and band even at the elementary school level. As an extra bonus or workload if something he wants to do whether it be sports, theater, or band doesn't exist he can work to make it exist by organizing it.

Re:You don't! But... (1)

moorley (69393) | about 3 years ago | (#37663580)


At this point he has no place in a normal classroom... *BUT* there is an example you can emulate. (Not eliminate...)

If I ever win the lottery the first thing I will do is hire a full time editor to review anything I write to be read by someone other than me...

You don't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37663480)

I was a "gifted" child, did all of the extra work, a grade ahead, graduated at 16, etc, etc.

The problem is everything is geared for the average student, which around home was redneck fisherman getting grade 12 only so the could be a captian.

Junior high? Hell. You have to pretend you're at everyone else's level or you're the nerdy kid with no friends. It took me until high school to realize that.

Then you have the issue of, because you've done all the relevant grade 12 courses by the end of grade 9, nothing is challenging and you're in the system getting the required number of credits, not useful information.

University hits, and you're not prepared whatsoever. The average kids are used to studying hours per night so it's not such a shock. The "gifted" kids have been spoiled their whole school life and don't know what the hell to do. Since university praises regurgitation not understanding, the "gifted" kids are screwed.

This may seem a little cynical, but it's a sad truth. I'm now a web developer doing very well for myself, but wondering how I'm going to pay 2 years of student loan back.

Wallstreet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37663500)

All the geniuses go there.

Just kidding. :)

The question of making someone "fit" something... (1)

idontgno (624372) | about 3 years ago | (#37663504)

always brings to mind the iron bed of Procrustes. [] So, to make this "prodigy" "fit", we'd have to cut his intellect down to size. A task, I believe, public education is well-suited for.

Don't force him into a rubbish system (1)

1s44c (552956) | about 3 years ago | (#37663506)

How do you fit him into the American school system?

You don't. You build a new school system around him.

Maybe that new school system will also be useful for those students that are too intelligent to fit into the current school system.

You don't (1)

gabereiser (1662967) | about 3 years ago | (#37663510)

You don't subject a kid like that to our educational system. Instead you hire private tutors or enroll him in a private college. Eventually he will show the institution what value he is and earn full scholarship through and even possibly become a fellow/researcher for that school. Do NOT send a kid like that to public school, it will only hurt his thirst for knowledge.

Foreign Language Immersion? (1)

codeAlDente (1643257) | about 3 years ago | (#37663540)

My nerdy kid would be bored in a normal school. Instead he's doing a language immersion program, which keeps him interested, and encourages social interaction as well. Sports are good for that too, as a few others have mentioned. One risk with really smart kids is burnout, so there should be plenty of time for fun stuff.

Studied String Theory? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37663550)

So he's a crackpot.

Re:Studied String Theory? (2)

emagery (914122) | about 3 years ago | (#37663682)

pfff... even if string theory doesn't pan out; one of the best ways to discover 'what is' is to examine and study 'what isn't.'

Don't (1)

mseeger (40923) | about 3 years ago | (#37663558)

How do you fit him into the American school system?

Please don't try... You're neither doing him nor the school system any favor. The best you can do for people who don't fit the system, is to allow them living productively outside of it.

A good system is capable of exception handling....

That's an assinine question (1)

mikein08 (1722754) | about 3 years ago | (#37663588)

The American public school system is terminally broken and not fixable. Don't believe it? Just look at the end product of the system. Keep this kid OUT of public schools and put him in an academic environment that will nurture and push him. His social development is another question altogether.

He is above the system... beyond it... (1)

notnAP (846325) | about 3 years ago | (#37663590)

Why should he fit into the system? Or more importantly, why should the system be made to be a fit for him?

Spiritual Building (1)

ButtMaster (2462272) | about 3 years ago | (#37663598)

Education is only feeding our lower animal brain. Only spiritual building will benefit the higher levels of an individuals being. if the child is already gifted in education(Meaning he/she has the ability to breakdown processes inherent in all educational disciplines), it makes more sense to work on the spiritual (READ NOT RELIGION) portion of his/her being, since intelligence is already mastered. Knowledge of self, inner discipline and relationship with others is by far a more useful exercise for the child.

Clone Him (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37663606)

`dividing and developing his genome into several areas of modern advances needed to further the human species. Energy technologies, economics, Resources exploration, Physiology and Health, and Hollywood could all benefit from his high intelligence. It seems a waste to be using his powers to further string theories and chaos, etc.. Or wait.. We'll have to wait until he figures out how to clone himself.

It's easy! (1)

Suzuran (163234) | about 3 years ago | (#37663610)

After his frontal lobotomy, he should fit in just fine!

Send him to Harvard/CalTech (1)

wisebabo (638845) | about 3 years ago | (#37663614)

While I'm sure that a lot of us have heard of prodigy horror/early burnout stories, it doesn't always end up that way.

My best friend entered Harvard at the age of 15 as a Sophomore. He took some of the hardest courses available; Math 55, Physics 55, Organic Chem (by the way, I believe Bill Gates took Math 55 which is one reason why I don't think he's a dummy) and did extremely well on them. He had a great girlfriend and was an excellent foosball player. (I didn't have a girlfriend, barely got through Math 21C and couldn't play foosball to save my life).

I think in his post-grad research he worked with a Nobel Laureate. (Sorry, don't know the details, not my field). Now he's a fully tenured professor in Chemistry doing work in Nano-Tech (I introduced him to Eric Drexler's "Engines of Creation").

So give Gabriel the opportunity to do great things and he just might.

answer (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 3 years ago | (#37663624)

put him in a great, capitalistically driven private school, what could be more American besides public school?

Simultaneous High School and College (1)

laughingskeptic (1004414) | about 3 years ago | (#37663630)

I had such a prodigy as a friend during my undergraduate education at the University of Texas. He took honors math classes and science classes at UT in the mornings and attended regular high school classes in the afternoons. He was a fantastic kid and I believe had great experiences at both UT and at his high school. He is now a law professor because a law professor advised him at one time that if he wanted have a carreer that maximized his time to explore what ever the heck he wanted then he should be a law professor.

We need to study him. (1)

mfh (56) | about 3 years ago | (#37663634)

Some day every child will be exactly like this one if we could figure out how to recreate the conditions present in his body at the time of his birth right through to his first steps. My guess is that every child could be this way and what great things we could accomplish as a species with such advantages.

You don't (1)

Mad Quacker (3327) | about 3 years ago | (#37663642)

Clearly the technical stuff he will educate himself on, and ask for the things he needs in order to do so. The only thing you have to be concerned about is social skills, and having some semblance of normality in childhood.


emagery (914122) | about 3 years ago | (#37663660)

For god's sake, don't cripple the poor kid by subjecting him to our conveyor belt of education; he needs someone or someones who can keep challenging him... and, beyond that, the opportunities to teach himself using application. (Learn by doing.) Maybe he'll need a social and sociological curriculum on the side to make sure he can interact with the rest of humanity... but, all that said, our educational system is designed to create automatons who subject themselves to the whims of the few; opportunity is created as much if not more often than given, and he needn't necessarily rely on rote and proscribed methodologies to succeed or surpass.
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