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Identifying ability- Pt.1 of Helping children develop talent+ #31

+ Dec 2021 Residential Program | Upcoming Events

Quote of the Week

“We have found that many people, for instance, discount their strongest aptitudes, thinking that if something comes easily to them, why, surely anyone can do it. Or perhaps they know someone so preternaturally gifted that their own ability seems meager by comparison, when in fact they are among the top rank of persons tested. Frequently a person has had little opportunity for the kinds of activities that would have revealed his or her gifts, or is aware of some strengths but not others.” -‘Understanding your Aptitudes’ from Johnson O’ Connor Foundation

Wish you all a Very Happy Deepavali!

Hi, this is the GenWise team– we bring out this newsletter to help parents and educators to complement the work of formal schools and associated systems. We can help our children thrive in these complex times only by exchanging ideas and insights and collaborating on this. We are also a founder-member of the Gifted India Network– if you are interested in issues related to gifted education and talent development, an easy way to keep updated about talks, programs and resources is to join the Gifted India Network telegram channel (

This week’s main post ‘Identifying ability- Pt. 1 of Helping children develop talent’, is the first of a 3 part-series that highlights key points from the inaugural expert talk of the Gifted India Network by Dr. Paula Olszewski-Kubelius, Head of the Center for Talent Development, Northwestern University. The talk was titled ‘The Importance of Non-Cognitive Skills in Talent Development’ and the full session can be accessed here.

You are invited to be an early member and beta-tester of the GenWise Club (ages 13-90), a community of interested students, parents, and educators. Check out this link for more about the club and how to join it. It is open to all in the current beta phase. 

Join this conversation on learning, by commenting on our posts, or joining our club community for more regular and closer interactions.


Identifying ability- Pt.1 of Helping children develop talent

GenWise Residential Program, Dec 2021

Upcoming External Events

Identifying ability- Pt.1 of Helping children develop talent

This post is the first of a 3 part-series that highlights key points from the inaugural expert talk of the Gifted India Network by Dr. Paula Olszewski-Kubelius, Head of the Center for Talent Development, Northwestern University. The talk was titled ‘The Importance of Non-Cognitive Skills in Talent Development’ and the full session can be accessed here.

The 3 parts in this series on ‘Helping Children develop talent’ are-

In the first part we look at the how specific abilities emerge as children grow, what signs parents and educators can look for, and the importance of using assessment tools to identify the same. In the second part, we look at what kind of opportunities we should provide at different developmental stages to help the child develop this potential into expertise. In the third and concluding part of the series, we look at the emotional and social challenges gifted students face and how parents can support them in developing the psychosocial skills necessary for achievement.

Giftedness is achieved: giftedness is a state—a process of becoming…

Children come with potential (which is a function of both nature and nurture), but no child is born with the psychosocial skills needed to translate that potential into achievement. Parents need to help children develop their potential by

helping to identify their abilities and interests

coaching them to develop psychosocial skills

Both the above require providing the right environment at home, school and outside of school.

Ability matters. As the child grows, specific abilities tend to matter more than general ability.

IQ ( general ability) matters and does predict later school performance, but does not predict creative achievements in adulthood. However, specific abilities such as mathematical, spatial or verbal ability predict school performance and adult achievements including creative and scholarly accomplishments.

Typically students are stronger in one domain of specific ability than another. And higher IQ individuals tend to show greater variability in terms of specific abilities. Students who are stronger in mathematical (or spatial) ability vis-a-vis verbal ability tend to do well in careers such as Astronomy and Physics, Mathematics and Statistics, Computer and Information Sciences, MBA, Engineering, and Economics. And students who are relatively stronger in verbal ability tend to do better in fields such as the Social Sciences, Biological Sciences, Arts, History, and English Literature.

Assessing specific abilities is important in crafting talent development pathways.

Indications of specific abilities in the domain of verbal reasoning often come from observing the child reading, writing, playing word games, telling stories, making persuasive arguments etc. Similarly, indications of mathematical and spatial ability come from observing the child in number play, having a mathematical cast of mind, building things/taking things apart, spatially oriented games, her interest in maps and drawing and so on.

As the child gets older though. more structured and formal assessments are helpful. The assessment must also be challenging enough to discriminate between the abilities of high-performing peers. Ei ASSET Talent Search and Northwestern CTD provide access to such above-level tests and other relevant assessments.

The mix of general and specific abilities of a student can be mapped to the needs of talent domain at an appropriate stage, to decide on the path to be taken based on one’s relative strengths. The below slide summarizes how a child progresses from displaying markers of general intelligence to a mix of specific abilities as he/ she/ they grows.

GenWise Residential Program, Dec 2021

With the COVID situation showing significant improvement, we will be running a 2-week residential program from Dec 18-30, 2021 at the Padukone-Dravid Centre for Sports Excellence in Bangalore for children currently in Grade 8, 9 or 10. The recommended duration is 2 weeks, though participants are free to choose either week. 2 course options are offered each week as listed below. Ei ASSET Talent Search (ATS) Gold, Silver and Bronze scholars are eligible for the advanced courses. If you do not have ATS scores but are interested in the advanced courses, contact us. Early bird offers are available for registrations completed before Nov 15, 2021. For more details and to register, visit the program page

Our residential programs are much more than the ‘academic enrichment component’ the above courses represent. The benefits of attending a GenWise Residential Program are highlighted here.  GenWise co-founder, Vishnu Agnihotri, has also shared his personal take in a previous edition of this newsletter titled ‘The Magic of Residential Programs for Children’.

We have very high standards in ensuring the safety of children. Several young athletes (age 9 and upwards) have been staying at the Padukone-Dravid Centre for Sports Excellence Residences for the last few months- a child-friendly facility with strong COVID protocols for all residents and visitors.

Upcoming External Events

The below events are free to attend unless otherwise specified.

Events for Children from the TIFR Outreach team– Celebrating TIFR Founder’s Day 2021

Online workshops for children (priority for wards of TIFR/DAE employees)

Who am I? A design riddle, Sunday, 14th November Design and Technology Education Group, HBCSE

11 AM to 12:45 PM This is most suitable for children of age 10-16. Batch size: 35 participants

Please register HERE to receive the zoom link for workshops. Registration for workshops shall end at 0600 HRS IST on the session day.

Special Chai and Why? Session- Diye Jalte Hain, Sunday, 7th November (No registration necessary)

11 AM to 12:15 PM

Links to attend the event are available here.

Enabling Children Gifted in Math

This panel discussion on Nov 11 at 6 PM is part of a series of events from the Gifted India Network of which we are one of the founding members. You can register for the session here.

We have all known (or at least heard of) children with precocious abilities in music, sports or math. If a child is gifted in music or sports, we know what is to be done- we get a coach for the child, get the child to play/ perform with similarly talented students and so on. When it comes to math though, things may be less clear- in fact do we even know which children have a really strong aptitude for math? Is it the child who is really fast at computations, the topper in tests and exams or the one who is good at certain types of puzzles? Even if this vexing question of identifying students gifted in math is addressed- what can we do to help them reach their potential?

The ‘we’ here refers to educators, schools and parents and many of us are unclear about what we should do and feel helpless about what we can do. We may get students to take math olympiads, and if we are lucky enough, find a coach, program or resources to support the child. Can more be done though? Can a school accelerate the learning of such students by providing differentiated instruction within a classroom or allowing students to attend classes with higher grades? What kinds of resources are available for children passionate about math and what kind of out-of-school programs would be most helpful? Do technology offerings have a role to play?

The panel will attempt to answer questions such as the above. The panel is composed of-

Jerry Burkhart of who has worked with talented math students for over 2 decades and written a series of books titled Advanced Common Core Math Explorations

Mick Purcell, Head of School of KC High, Chennai, who has taught math for over 25 years in different countries. He is certified by the IB in Physics, Mathematics, History, Pedagogical Leadership, and Governance.

Sridhar Rajagopalan, Co-Founder and Chief Learning Officer, Educational Initiatives(Ei) is a recognized thought leader in education. The Ei ASSET Talent Search is an above-level test that has been used to identify gifted school students for over a decade. Ei Mindspark is an award-winning personalized adaptive-learning tool that has been recognized by the Economist magazine.

Bebras India Challenge 2021, ( is organized by CSpathshala. Nearly 1.8 lac students from 647 schools participated in this challenge in 2019 and even in 2020, during the pandemic, 1 lac students participated.

Bebras challenges are made of a set of short problems called Bebras tasks. The tasks are fun, engaging and based on problems that Computer Scientists enjoy solving and require logical thinking and can be solved without prior knowledge of computational thinking. ​The aim is to solve as many as you can in the allotted time. See a sample task in the flyer below.

Bebras India Challenge 2021 will be held from 15th-27th November, 2021!  It’s free and will be open for age groups 8-18, classes 3rd to 12th, offered in English, Gujarati, Marathi, Kannada, Odia, Tamil and Telugu. Registration is through schools only. Register your school on : . If you are a parent and your school hasn’t invited your child to take part in this, please forward this information to theml and request them to register.


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