Thursday April 28th 2022

May Nellen talked about what causes gifted children to underachieve.

I am May Nellen. Since 2003 I try to make the world more gifted-friendly. Since 2010 I am an ECHA specialist in gifted education. I train teachers and coach gifted children and young adults, sometimes in small groups but mostly one-on-one. In the last two decades, I met a lot of different coachees. Some of them stay with me forever. There was a small boy who stopped growing. After a year of coaching, he grew 5 centimeters. It’s impossible to prove that the coaching was what made him grow again, but it certainly contributed to his well-being. I wondered what happend to him before I met him, what cost him so much energy that he stopped growing?

I met a lot of other young children who were very insecure and unhappy. It made me wonder what made them so insecure and unhappy? In the literature, I found a lot of models and theories about giftedness. Most of thim are descriptive. But I didn’t find a model that explaines what makes gifted children insecure and uhappy and eventually underachieve. So, I did some research to find out which factors cause underachievement and why gifted underachievers behave the way they do. I think it is necessary to understand the gifted and we need to know what risk they run so that we can offer them the appropriated help. I then created a model of my own. This model helps to explain to teachers and parents why gifted children sometimes don’t flourish. I will present this model in the monthy lecture of April.