Articles are available for reprint as long as the author is acknowledged: Domenick J. Maglio Ph.D.

Thursday, February 28, 2013


By Domenick J. Maglio PhD Traditional Realist

Young students who learn beginning academics effortlessly are immediately identifiable.
They surge to the top of their class making the teacher's life easy while making the parents proud. Most of them are seen as exceptionally bright whose peers at times marvel at them and other times reject and envy them.

However these so called "gifted" students are carrying an inner time bomb. Eventually they reach a point in their education where they can no longer rely on their superior ability to absorb material. A wall is reached that they are not prepared to overcome. They do not have the foggiest idea what hit them or how to deal with the surprising obstacle. They had never had reason or need to devise any method to go around, over or through an educational blockade.

There was no prior motivation to learn how to compensate for difficulties and overcome challenges. The skills of rehearsing, simplifying, breaking down concepts, summarizing using memory systems or simply study skills were never developed.

People who learn with the gift of comprehending almost through osmosis have to eventually pay a heavy price. They have to learn how to discipline themselves to learn difficult material. This gift might even turn into a curse if they do not make a quick adjustment to a need for study habits. This arriving late in the game makes conquering the learning curve more difficult.

An individual who has always been told how bright he is has to reevaluate this unfortunate appraisal status. These students have to accept the reality they now have to learn how to study or be left in the dust by other more tortoise-like but disciplined students. This is hard to grasp for a student with an inflated ego.

Of course the falsely anointed student has the option of using his reservoir of knowledge to con teachers into believing he knows more than he does. This tactic might work well through high school but a college entrance exam will detect the deception especially in the more technical and disciplined subjects like math and science.

It is deflating to a student's ego that once was described as “gifted” to know he has to work to remain on top. It is like a well known sports recruit going into college realizing he has to grind it out to maintain his starting position.  Competition forces the most gifted athlete or student to have to strive to remain on top.

Life is not easy for those born bright. A time arises when a person has to decide to make corrective changes or live as a “has been.” Too many people who start out of the gate ahead of the rest fail to maintain their lead or even finish the race. They can make excuses why they did not become competent and reach the level of expectations others had for them.

A highly successful student has to work hard throughout his educational career. A quick starter has a more difficult time learning this invaluable lesson since he did not start until later in life.

Before we gush about how bright a youngster is, we should think about how unfair it is to do this
to a child. Calling a child “gifted” can be a comment that can be just as devastating as calling a child stupid. Both children believe the statements cannot be altered.

Once a person hears an authority figure label him, the individual usually feels he will permanently remain locked into this status. Nothing is further from the truth. People change in either direction. Becoming brighter with time or losing that brightness is a readily observable reality.

A child who absorbs everything like a sponge will have to eventually develop learning strategies or he will become another child who has not reached his potential. While a child who had a hard time learning in his early years can blossom into a productive one. No one can guarantee that an appraisal will be valid for one’s entire life even if it is a positive one. Best not to burden a young person with a well intended assessment that could become an albatross around his neck.

The reality is we have to work hard to maintain our level of intellectual functioning and even harder to get better throughout our lives.

Dr. Maglio is an author and owner/director of Wider Horizons School, a college prep program. You can visit Dr. Maglio at


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