Letter: Wasted talents of gifted children

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The Independent Online
Sir: We do know something of what happens to gifted children when they grow up (letter, 2 December). For example, the continuing study of gifted children in California, begun in the Twenties by Professor Terman, has found that most men become professionals, though not necessarily well known, and women often become home-makers.

My own longitudinal study of gifted children in Britain since 1974 shows a similar picture (Gifted Children Growing Up, Cassell, 1991). The boys have tended to become scientists, especially researchers, and the girls were often more interested in the arts with less prestigious outcomes, such as becoming a member of an orchestra. However, many who were outstandingly gifted as children did not receive adequate educational support to develop their potential to expert level and beyond. Consequently, they under-achieved and so appeared to 'grow out of' their


It was quite clear at the end of this 14-year nationwide investigation of children in many different kinds of school that there is considerable and unnecessary waste of talent in Britain.

Yours sincerely,


London, W1

2 December