When I was in secondary school, I made a friend who was acting as Inspector Goole in An Inspector Calls. The delivery was great. She was excellent in literature and drama. I did not know her mathematics and ability to crunch numbers was even better until decades later, since we lost contact. She was from the gifted stream, and excelled in her studies.
My classmate had introduced me to her friends and a couple of them were from the gifted stream as well. They spoke a third language. Far from the introverted geeks that many people think gifted people are, they are very balanced individuals and seem to excel in many areas such as law, medicine, and finance.
Perhaps these are the ones who have managed to excel in the education system in Singapore. When we reach 9 years of age, we sit through a screening test to test for giftedness. Many of my Primary 3 classmates got through the first round. I managed to get in, but when I went for a second round, the questions were just way too challenging and bizarre for me and I did not understand most of them. Apparently the test focuses on English, maths and general reasoning. Of course I did not get through the test.
However, there are many more people who are gifted, and some who never knew they are gifted, just because they did not fit the narrow definition provided by the Ministry of Education in Singapore. Some may not have gone to top schools and top classes, but you cannot deny they are different.
I have met artistes, who can play the piano and sing at the same time, have astute sense of comic timing, and are great at improvising and memorising lyrics and lines.
I have met people who could unscramble letters in seconds.
I have met people who remember vivid details of movies and can bring the movie alive through verbal descriptions.
I have met people who could analyse political situations and explain them in an easy manner.
I have met people who could easily play the devil’s advocate and let me see issues from another viewpoint.
I have met people who are so passionate about their causes that I want to find out more about.
I have met people who have great people skills and can make anyone feel at ease.
I have met people who write with great introspection, that I could really get under their skin and feel their turbulent emotions.
I have met quiet people who surprise others with their vast knowledge and creativity.
I have met people who take such great photos.
I have met people who can classify things easily and identify the exact breed or species of flora and fauna.
I have seen people who can create such beautiful drawings and art work.
I have seen pre-schoolers who read thick books.
I have seen a pre-schooler with culinary talent.
I have met an autistic boy who excels at scrabble.
I have met people who are very serious in whatever they do.
I have met young children who are so at ease on television and have managed to act and charm people.
I have met people who are extremely witty.
I have met people who create extremely lifelike costumes from Lord of the Rings by doing reverse engineering.
I have met people who can pick up exotic instruments in a short period of time.
I have met hawkers who remember the long list of complicated orders without writing them down.
I have met people who could speak multiple Chinese dialects on top of other languages.
I have met people who have already mentally played many steps ahead of you in a game, with multiple possible scenarios.
You cannot identify these gifted people just by looking at them, learning which school they have gone to or finding out where they are working at. You have to get to know them.
There are so many people whose minds work differently from me. They are able to process information much faster, make more connections than others, and they really want to know everything they want to know about their pet topics. The insatiable thirst for learning and tinkering on their favourite things is something to emulate, as we promote self-directed learners as part of the 21st century competencies.
This is part of Hoagie’s Gifted Blog Hop for September on Gifted: How? Click on the link to see more posts on the different faces of gifted people.