Today, John Thompson shares his vision of giftedness through the Gifted Interview. Thank you, John! He is the Director of Development & Organizational Impact for the Mensa Foundation and currently lives in Dallas, Texas.
.IF I COULD CHOOSE, WOULD I STILL BE GIFTED?
Of course. It’s a part of who I am, and I like who I am… Most of the time. 😉
.WHAT BEING GIFTED MEANS TO ME
Giftedness to me is a unique and extraordinary manifestation of intelligence with an unyielding desire to positively change the world at some level.
.IF I HAD TO CHOOSE AN IMAGE OR A KEYWORD THAT SUMS UP WHAT GIFTEDNESS MEANS
Giftedness is a state of “being.” It’s not just about what one does or achieves, but it reflects the essence of who one is as a person.
.HOW LONG HAVE I KNOWN ABOUT IT?
I was identified as a child, but I didn’t understand its complexities until I was an adult.
.WHAT PHASES HAVE I GONE THROUGH SINCE MY DISCOVERY?
To me, life is fluid. Viewing it this way has allowed me to continuously reflect, learn, and integrate my experiences. This leads to countless “a-ha” moments, something I’m quite fond of.
.HOW DO I EXPLAIN IT TO SOMEONE WHO HAS NEVER HEARD OF IT?
Giftedness is a unique aspect of human intelligence that goes beyond our traditional understanding. It refers to individuals who possess exceptional aptitude for learning, creativity, and the ability to make unique connections between ideas. It’s like having a special way of understanding and contributing to the world. It’s not about being more intelligent than others, but about celebrating the different ways people think and perceive.
.WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO EMPHASIZE ABOUT GIFTEDNESS
Intelligence can manifest in various forms. Giftedness at its core represents a complex blend of unique abilities that extend beyond our traditional measures. When we acknowledge and celebrate the multifaceted nature of intelligence, we enrich not only our understanding of what it means to be gifted but also our understanding of what it means to be a human being.
.WHAT I PERSONALLY FIND TO BE THE MOST DIFFICULT
Slowing down. I tend to be “too gregarious” when discussing my thoughts and ideas.
.WHAT I PERSONALLY LOVE
.MY WELLBEING TOOL OR PRACTICE THAT HELPS ME MOST
Practicing mindfulness and studying Stoicism have been game-changers for me.
.A MISREPRESENTATION THAT I WANT TO CALL INTO QUESTION
I want to call into question the prevailing notion that intelligence is a static trait determined solely by an IQ score. Our understanding of intelligence is evolving into a more dynamic concept, breaking free from traditional psychometric and educational paradigms. It’s emerging as a multifaceted and dynamic phenomenon that encompasses a broad range of abilities.
NB from Gloria, I asked John to explicit his definitions:
- Multifaceted: Intelligence is not a single, uniform trait. Instead, it encompasses a variety of cognitive abilities and skills. These can include logical reasoning, creativity, emotional intelligence, problem-solving, spatial awareness, linguistic aptitude, and more. For example, a person may excel in mathematics but struggle with interpersonal communication, illustrating the multifaceted nature of intelligence.
- Dynamic: Intelligence is not fixed or static. It can develop and change over time through learning, experiences, and environmental factors. For instance, someone may start with limited musical skills but, with practice and training, become a highly skilled musician. This dynamic aspect of intelligence means that it can be nurtured and cultivated.
.WHAT I WANT TO SAY TO GIFTED PEOPLE
You’re not alone. If you feel so, reach out.
.WHAT I WANT TO SAY TO PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT CONCERNED
It’s essential to understand that our evolving understanding of intelligence and giftedness can have a positive impact on our world. Embracing a broader perspective of intelligence can change how we educate, collaborate, and interact with one another. By recognizing and valuing the diverse ways in which intelligence can manifest, we create a more inclusive and innovative society. So, even if you haven’t been concerned about these topics before, know that they have the potential to reshape our world for the better. Embracing this broader perspective can lead to a society that values and celebrates the rich diversity of human capabilities and contributions.
NB from Gloria : I asked John to explain how a broader perspective of Intelligence would look like :
A broader perspective of intelligence challenges the idea that intelligence can be accurately assessed by a single test, like the WAIS (Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale), or reduced to a simple numerical IQ score. While some find value in theories like the Multiple Intelligences Theory proposed by Howard Gardner, it has been a subject of debate within the field of psychology and education due to concerns about its empirical validation and the difficulty of quantifying its proposed multiple intelligences. As with any theory, it’s important to approach it with a critical and open-minded perspective, recognizing both its merits and limitations. Here’s what a broader perspective might involve:
- Multiple Intelligences Theory: Proposed by Howard Gardner, this theory suggests that there are several distinct types of intelligence, including linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. Each of these intelligences represents a different facet of human cognitive abilities.
- Emotional Intelligence: This perspective emphasizes the importance of emotional awareness, empathy, and interpersonal skills as integral components of intelligence. It goes beyond traditional cognitive measures and focuses on understanding and managing emotions in oneself and others.
- Practical Intelligence: Practical intelligence refers to the ability to solve real-world problems, adapt to new situations, and navigate complex environments effectively. It involves skills like common sense, adaptability, and street smarts.
- Creative Intelligence: Creativity is often considered a form of intelligence that involves the ability to generate novel and valuable ideas, solutions, or artistic expressions.
- Cultural and Contextual Intelligence: Recognizing that intelligence can vary across different cultural and social contexts, this perspective values the diversity of human intelligence and knowledge.
.A BOOK TO READ ON THE SUBJECT
There are tons to choose from, but I’ll plug Bright Adults by Dr. Ellen D. Fiedler. Her gentle spirit comes out in her writing.
.MY OPINION ABOUT THE IQ WAIS TEST
In my opinion, intelligence is a multifaceted and evolving aspect of human nature that transcends the constraints of a single test like the WAIS. While this test and similar ones provide some valuable insights and baseline norms, they are not without their inherent biases and limitations. Intelligence encompasses a wide array of cognitive abilities, and relying solely on one test is insufficient to capture its richness. To gain a more comprehensive understanding, it’s essential to embrace a broader and more nuanced perspective on intelligence, recognizing its complexity and the need for multiple assessment methods.
There are various alternative assessment methods that can provide a more comprehensive understanding of intelligence:
- Portfolio Assessment: This involves collecting and evaluating a person’s work over time, such as writing samples, projects, or artistic creations, to assess their skills and growth.
- Performance-Based Assessments: These assessments require individuals to demonstrate their skills in practical situations. For example, a musician may be evaluated based on a live performance rather than a standardized test.
- Observational Assessments: Trained observers can assess individuals in real-life situations, such as classrooms or workplaces, to gauge their abilities, behavior, and problem-solving skills.
- Interviews and Self-Reports: Interviews and self-assessment questionnaires can provide insights into a person’s interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences, as well as their self-awareness.
- Dynamic Assessment: This approach involves providing individuals with support or guidance during the assessment to evaluate their learning potential and ability to adapt to new information.
.IS IT A WASTE NOT TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE GIFTED?
I wouldn’t describe it as a waste, but to not fully comprehend your identity as a person could be seen as a missed opportunity.
.WHEN I MEET ANOTHER GIFTED PERSON, DO I RECOGNIZE THEM? BY WHAT?
Dr. Maggie Brown taught me a foolproof method… Look for people’s antennas. Metaphorically speaking, of course. Antennas help identify those with heightened awareness and receptivity.
.A WISH FOR THE FUTURE
I wish for a future where the full spectrum of human intelligence and neurodiversity is not only acknowledged but also becomes a driving force behind innovation and progress. Society will thrive when it understands and leverages the unique strengths of ALL its members, regardless of their neurodiversity or giftedness.
.THE MISSING QUESTION, WHICH I WOULD HAVE LIKED TO ANSWER ON THE SUBJECT?
What is the Mensa Foundation’s mission and its role in advancing our understanding of intelligence and supporting gifted individuals?
The Mensa Foundation’s mission is to unleash intelligence for the benefit of humanity. While we have a close affiliation with American Mensa and Mensa International, it’s important to note that we are a separate entity. Our funding primarily comes from donors. Our role is pivotal in reshaping the narrative surrounding intelligence and giftedness. We are firmly aligned with Mensa’s core purposes, which involve identifying and nurturing intelligence for the benefit of humanity and advancing research into the nature and applications of intelligence. Rather than undermining traditional viewpoints, our aim is to expand them by acknowledging and celebrating the diverse range of human intellectual capabilities. You can learn more by visiting MensaFoundation.org.