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Case Profiles

Identifying Gifted Children – An Exercise Using Sample Case-profiles

“Gifted” is a term about which everyone has his/her own idea.  Teachers, parents, and school principals each have set ideas about what a gifted child does or does not do.  These preconceptions constitute a barrier in the identification of giftedness.

 

The information on this page should give you a clearer idea of who a gifted child is.  If you are a parent or teacher considering a nomination, please go through this page before you make your nomination

 

What is a Case-Profile?

The NIAS Gifted Education project has undertaken a series of case-profiles of potentially gifted children.  A case profiles is an in-depth exploration of a single individual using interviews with the individual and with significant others (in this case parents, teachers, and peers), diaries and journals, clinical and psychometric assessment, naturalistic observation, school and work records, and studying the works produced by the individual.  In our project, we have been using the case-profile to study the early development of gifted children, their schooling history, and any related issues or concerns. 

 

The aims of compiling case-profiles of potentially gifted children are as follows:

a)    To identify correlates of giftedness in India.  Because research on giftedness in the Indian context has been scarce, we are using these case profiles as one source of information.  What are the developmental trajectories of gifted children like?  Do they differ from the trajectories of other children?  E.g. do gifted children attain developmental milestones (walking, babbling, etc.) earlier than other children?  What are the traits and behaviours displayed by gifted children?

b)    To identify potential areas of concern.  Do parents face certain recurrent difficulties with gifted children?  Do gifted children have problems fitting into mainstream school environments?  Do they have problems in peer relationships?

c)    To identify the potential for mentorship.  As part of the project, we are developing a national-level mentorship network.  We hope to link children with high ability and interest with a subject expert in that domain.  The case-profiles have helped us to identify suitability for mentorship, appropriate channels for mentorship, and any other needs (e.g. need for financial support, or need to counsel parents about educational options). 

 

On this page we present four abbreviated case-profiles from our database, with all identifying details changed.  While you read these profiles, here are some points to consider:

1)    What are some of the traits the child displays?  If you were the child’s teacher, would you be able to identify him/her as gifted based on his/her classroom behaviour?  What are some reasons why the child’s giftedness might not emerge in the classroom?  If you were the child’s parent, what kind of observed behaviours would lead you to believe that the child might be gifted?

2)    Does the child display early development?  I.e. did s/her attain developmental milestones earlier than usual?  Can we use early development as a reliable criterion for giftedness?

3)    How does the child perform well at school?  Does he like school?

4)    How does this child behave in the classroom?  How does he react to boredom?  Does he get along with his peers? 

5)    Does the child have behavioral problems?  In what contexts do these problems occur, and what could be causing them?  If the child has any problems, how would you handle them as a teacher?  As a parent?

 

 

Guiding questions are marked in [orange text in square brackets].

 Above all, please keep in mind that these case-profiles are only illustrative.  There is no such thing as a ‘typical’ gifted child!  Gifted children are as diverse as any other population.

 

Kushal Barwe

 

Eight-year old Kushal was identified via classroom observation as part of the Gifted Education project.  He belongs to an upper-middle class urban family with highly-educated parents; his father is a researcher and postgraduate faculty in mathematics.  Kushal attends an I-GCSE school, where many students have similarly highly-educated parents.  Kushal has one sibling, a 3½-year old sister by adoption.  The family is trilingual.  Parents report no other case of unusual ability or disability in the family.

 Kushal attained motor developmental milestones slightly later than normal, but within the normal range.  He began speaking late, which is frequent in bilingual families.  Once he began speaking, vocabulary developed rapidly.  Kushal now seems fluent in all three languages spoken at home – Spanish, Marathi, and English.

 In the classroom, Kushal stood out to the observer because of his strong interest areas.  In a free period, he requested that the observer play a mathematics game with the class.  He appeared motivated to answer correctly and quickly, and easily outperformed all his peers including two other children who excel at mathematics and have high information-processing skills. 

 Kushal’s most marked characteristic is his curiosity.  He is keenly observant of details of his physical environment, and is easily provoked by everyday phenomena, which he then attempts to explore independently.  Kushal is fascinated by why things happen and how machines work.  On several occasions, he approached the observer posing questions such as “When I rub my hands on sand, why do they become smooth?”  “Why do twigs follow a curve (parabola) in the air when I throw them?” and  “If I stand in one spot with my arm extended and drop sand from a bucket, why does the sand fall in a spinning pattern?”  With some guidance, Kushal demonstrated the ability to reason these problems out on his own, as well as to associate these phenomena with others that he had observed.  Kushal thus demonstrated high curiosity, problem-finding orientation (i.e. noticing when something in the environment was beyond his current knowledge), and problem-solving ability (figuring out how to represent a problem in order to arrive at a solution, and how to apply scientific reasoning skills to solve a problem).  On another occasion, Kushal studied the variety of stones scattered around the playground and spontaneously began to classify them based on their visual and tactile features.  (Note that all these problems appeared outside the classroom, away from teachers.)

 Parents, too, describe Kushal as keenly observant and fascinated by mechanics.  He loves watching machines at work and has often attempted to take machines apart and put them back together.  He is enthusiastic about learning new concepts.  He explores concepts in a hands-on manner and is able to relate them to real-life scenarios.  For example, having read about pulleys, Kushal at a later date was able to recognise that this was the mechanism of a toilet flush.  On another occasion, when playing with friends, one child remarked, “The sun is gone,” and Kushal amended, “No, we are gone,” reflecting his knowledge of astronomy.

 As typical with bright children, Kushal is strongly interested in novelty, and is easily bored of repetition.  He seeks out new and challenging things to learn or to do.  His preference for challenge was displayed during the digit-span task (during case-profiling), where he performed excellently on the reverse task (the harder one) but seemed uninterested in the forward task (the easier one) and performed poorly.  [Have you observed similar instances of potentially gifted children being bored by easy/repetitive tasks and doing poorly on them?]

 Kushal has strong metacognitive ability.  He can plan how to solve a problem, assess his progress, and correct his course as required, using self-talk.  When presented with a new problem, Kushal appears highly motivated to devise a strategy.  He is able (and keen) to verbalise the strategy.  During the case-profiling process, Kushal spontaneously shared the strategy he had used to perform well on the reverse digit-span test.  In a competitive game situation in class, Kushal has often been observed to share his strategy and guide peers in performing the task successfully.  [Metacognition refers to the child’s self-awareness of his cognitive processes – a) the child’s awareness of how s/he solves particular problems, b) his/her awareness of which type of problems require which type of strategy (e.g. whether a particular mathematical problem requires a visual representation or an algebraic representation), and c) the child’s ability to talk about strategies s/he uses to learn – e.g. memory techniques, concept maps.  Have you observed metacognitive ability in potentially gifted children?]

 Kushal’s information-processing speed appears below-average.  [Not all gifted children are ‘quick!’]  He is slow to respond to a new situation, preferring to take his time and answer correctly.  Similarly, his speech in English is slow, but is perfectly grammatical and shows advanced vocabulary.  Compensating for this is his persistence in arriving at the correct answer when the question interests him.  This was obvious during an informal assessment conducted during the case-profile process.  Kushal took his time but was persistent in solving the puzzles presented to him.  In psychometric terms, Kushal displayed high power but low speed.  He showed above-average performance on unfamiliar logic and maths puzzles.  [Have you observed instances of potentially gifted children who may not be rapid at answering, but who take their time to respond and then produce high-quality responses?]

Kushal is highly imaginative and when in school appears to spend a lot of time in his own world.  He often seems unaware of other people, even in the middle of class.

 Kushal shows concern with ethical questions.  He wants to machine to reduce the petrol consumption of vehicles; he reprimands children hurting animals; and he asks people to save water and switch off lights.  Kushal’s concern for animals and the environment may have been picked up at school or at home.  (Kushal’s school strongly emphasises citizenship behaviour and moral education.)  [Have you observed high ethical or philosophical awareness in potentially gifted children – i.e. children posing questions about possibilities or hypothetical situations?]

 Kushal is a healthy, energetic child.  However, his gross motor skills appear poor and he is not athletic.  He prefers to spend the games period exploring physics/mechanics/geological phenomena.  This is unusual at his school where sports and physical education are a strong part of the curriculum, and where his peers seize every opportunity for physical activity.  Kushal’s fine motor skills are average.  His drawings lack perspective and show poor lineament.  However it should be noted that Kushal does not draw for drawing’s sake.  His drawings are either exploratory – e.g. when reading about trains, he drew different train models – or imaginative, i.e. narrative drawings.

 Kushal entered a Montessori at age 4.  He enjoyed the activity-based learning method and amazed teachers by his advanced reading skills.

 At age 6, Kushal shifted to his current school, a small institute with students from contrasting backgrounds.  This school has an average teacher-student ratio of 1:9 per class.  Material is taught via topic rather than via subject, i.e. one topic is selected per month and material across all subjects centres on that topic.  Each class has a library and independent reading is strongly encouraged.  Games, nature walks, and other hands-on activities (including cooking) are a strong part of the curriculum.

 Kushal has not received explicit training at home.  He does not discuss his reading with his parents.  Most of his learning and thinking skills appear to have been picked up on his own.  Parents have always provided a stimulating environment, appropriate learning tools including puzzles, and have encouraged his curiosity.

 Kushal’s stable and longstanding interests are reading, puzzles, machines, mathematics, biology, physics, and astronomy.  He is a voracious reader, spends most of his leisure time reading, and resents school and homework because these activities reduce the time he can spend on his independent reading.  Kushal reads and comprehends material beyond his age, including “Tell Me Why?”, “How Is It Made?”, and National Geographic magazines.  [In your school, are students are allowed to bring books from home, or to choose books in the library?  What types of books do potentially gifted children seem to read?  E.g. fact or fiction?  A wide range of topics or a narrow range of topics?]

 Kushal is an introverted, slow-to-warm-up child who can appear inhibited at first.  With peers he is friendly and maintains positive relations, but he does not have any close friends.  Outside his family, he shows no interest in social interaction for its own sake; his interactions are centred around discussing a topic or problem that interests him.  He is popular with younger children because of the information he shares and the imaginative activities he generates. 

 Kushal does not appear motivated by competition.  He has a high intrinsic drive to explore and learn.  He prefers to learn by independent exploration, being highly curious and able to follow out a train of reason using basic experimental methodology.  When engaged in learning a concept or solving a problem, Kushal becomes intensely absorbed and seems oblivious to the environment, including the teacher’s call for attention.  Kushal’s interest in independent learning and his mastery orientation were demonstrated in the classroom.  The researcher experimentally offered to give the children the answers to a crossword puzzle.  While most children seemed to welcome this, Kushal firmly but politely told the researcher, “You should not tell me.  I have to find the answers on my own.”   [In your experience, what do potentially gifted children seem to be motivated by?  Do they seem motivated to rank first in class, or to finish their work fast, or to turn in neat work?]

 Kushal does not have any serious adjustment problems, apart from boredom and possible under-performance at school.

Even though Kushal attends an “alternative” I-GCSE school with small class sizes and an emphasis on activity-based learning, he does not enjoy school.  He complains that the long school day and homework interfere with his independent learning activities.  He absents himself frequently despite good health.  In class, he often appears disengaged and lost in his own world.  He displays no interest in language classes or in structured physical activity.  He shows enthusiasm for individual expressive (art) and problem-solving activities (worksheets) but has trouble paying attention in lecture-type scenarios (e.g. storytelling by the teacher) or when he is not interested in the subject being taught. 

 Despite his fluency in three languages and his high learning ability, Kushal shows little interest in learning new languages (Hindi and Kannada); part of the reason for his disengagement in Hindi class is that his Hindi reading ability lags behind.  [Do you know any potentially gifted children who display selective interest?]

 As well, Kushal (like many other bright children) dislikes writing.  Parents and teachers have to struggle to get him to finish homework.

 Kushal has well-developed and definite interests; it is difficult to get him to do what he dislikes (learning languages, doing writing tasks).  As well, Kushal has problems functioning in  a structured environment (even the less-structured environment of a tiny I-GCSE class) and sustaining attention in group-based learning situations.  He is highly energetic and wants to be constantly exploring things independently.  He deals poorly with structured classroom instruction.

 While some degree of structured top-down instruction is necessary at Kushal’s age, he may benefit from being allowed more space for independent explorations at school.  His current teacher prioritises structure and discipline over children’s interests or individual learning needs.  It may be helpful to allow Kushal to participate in additional problem-based projects conditional to his completion of less-favoured tasks (learning language and writing tasks).  Project work may happen after school; additionally, he may be liable for curriculum compacting (i.e. being allowed to cover the regular curriculum in a shortened space of time, prove his mastery, and then move to advanced tasks) and may meet with a project mentor during school hours.  This might be an effective way to get Kushal more engaged in school in general, and in less-favoured subjects in particular – until such time as he can choose to drop these subjects.  To optimise his academic performance and school adjustment, it is important to co-opt Kushal into the structured classroom environment while encouraging his scientific thinking ability.

 Kushal shows the ability to benefit from guidance, and to learn via dialogue with an older instructor.  Given his strong interest areas, high drive for independent or guided learning, intuitive scientific thinking skills, and strong problem-solving orientation, Kushal is an ideal candidate for mentorship.  Mentorship should also address the problems Kushal has been having at school. 

 

Kusum and Vimal Singh

 Kusum Singh is an 11-year old child of a day-wage labourer in Lucknow who received media attention for having graduated Std. XII at age 10. She holds the Limca Record for youngest Matriculate in India at 7 years 3 months. During Kusum’s case-profile interview, her brother Vimal, age 18, was also identified as having advanced ability – he secured a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Administration at 14 years.  Both children were profiled.

 Kusum and Vimal’s history was difficult to unravel for several reasons – including poorly-educated parents, linguistic barriers, and differences in social class and position between the researcher and the family that was a barrier for rapport building. Despite attempts to understand how Kusum and her brother developed their abilities, the family repeatedly expressed the view that any child could achieve the same with dedication and effort.

 Vimal and Kusum were born at home.  Developmental trajectories and early childhood health were reported to be normal.  There is no medical record of the children’s perinatal or early childhood history.

 Both children demonstrated precocious language skills.  By preschool age Vimal, according to his father, knew five languages: English, Hindi, Sanskrit, Urdu, and Bengali, picked up from the neighbourhood.  Father would read and recite the Ramayana at performances at his village.  Vimal at age three began doing the same and was noted for his performance.  Kusum started speaking at one year and learnt the Hindi and English alphabets at age 1-1½ years. Kusum started reading by 2 years 8 months; she has always managed her studies mostly on her own, using Vimal’s notes and available books.

 Kusum was admitted at age 5½ to Std. X in a private state-board school; she was home-schooled till then.  The school management was impressed by Kusum’s abilities; the school was accommodating and Kusum adjusted well academically and socially, only facing some practical difficulties such as being too small for the desk-chair meant for older students and answering lengthy question papers.  Kusum scored 59 percent in the Std. X and 63 percent in Stds. XI and XII. According to her school principal, Kusum should have scored about 70 percent but for her slow writing speed. Currently, Kusum’s Zoology teacher at college reports that further improvement in her writing speed is needed for Kusum’s exam performance to reflect her subject knowledge.  [Have you observed any potentially gifted child whose academic performance suffered for similar reasons?  What other reasons could there be for a discrepancy between a child’s ability and his/her academic performance?]

Vimal was admitted to a private school in Lucknow directly to Std. V at age five.  He then progressed through school one standard at a time, and graduated Std. XII at age 11.

 Currently Kusum is pursuing a Bachelor’s in Science, with Botany, Zoology, and Chemistry from a private degree college in Lucknow.  Vimal is not currently enrolled in any course and seems disillusioned with formal education.  He cleared the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and secured admission to colleges in the United States of America to pursue higher education. However, due to financial difficulties, he was unable to go abroad. He enrolled for Bachelor’s in Computer Application at Lucknow University at the age of 11 years and finished the course at age 14. He then enrolled for an Master’s in Computer Application at the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), but abandoned it due to certain procedural delays.  He spends up to 18 hours at home on the computer, reading about various topics as well as trying his hand at some programming and research.

 

Some of the strategies and abilities reported by the children and other observers that may help explain their intellectual achievements are as follows:

 1)    Kusum and Vimal claim that all subject curricula are designed in a step-by-step, graded manner, making it easy to master the material at one’s own pace. They claim that this is a feat all children are capable of, and that the only reason why other children may not actually do so is because they have distractions or have other goals. Kusum tackles material by first reducing it to a simple form conduciveto learning. She is able to learn efficiently using her own strategies; she can also judge which strategies are appropriate to what kind of material. E.g. Kusum explained that some concepts such as life-cycles can be easily studied using concept-maps, while other concepts may be more difficult to represent in this manner and require other strategies.

 2)    Teachers and Kusum’s principal reported that Kusum was persistent in understanding concepts fully and clarifying any doubts she had on the details of lessons. Kusum’s teachers and parents reported that she was very hardworking; she would stay up to study up till 3 a.m. Kusum’s current Zoology teacher reported that she shows accelerated cognitive development, with good memory and a long attention span; and that while Kusum took some time to learn a new concept, she was perseverant in her efforts. Kusum’s principal reported that she could learn in three days concepts that took other children fifteen days, despite her age. She adds that Kusum had good memory and grasping power, and needed to read something just once to learn a concept.

3)    Both siblings report that they learned subjects practically, using models and diagrams, and by observing conceptsat work in the environment. They reported that these methods facilitated their understanding of topics. Kusum’s school principal reported that Kusum would bring flowers, roots, and fruits to class, relevant to material being studied in Biology. Kusum would also associate information about the skeletal system with her own body and try to count her ribs. This indicates her high degree of interest in the subject and in understanding it practically. Since early childhood, Kusum has been using music and song to learn at home.  Kusum’s principal, teachers, and parents reported her novel way of learning the periodic table – using the dholak and singing along the elements of the periodic table.

 Kusum has a good attention span; early in school, she would become bored or lose interest easily. Due to her age, teachers would allow her small breaks and teach her in a play-based method.

 Kusum’s principal reported that Kusum preferred to learn concepts via practical application and asked a lot of questions that were difficult for the teachers to answer. [Have you encountered children who ask questions that are on-topic, but difficult for you to answer?  How do you deal with such children?]  Kusum can also draw associations between material learned and real-life experience.  For example, when taught about the food chain and the role of sunlight in food production, Kusum reasoned that human beings cannot produce their own food because they lack chlorophyll. 

 Further evidence exists of the children’s practical intelligence. The principal and parents reported that both children were alert to the dangers of ingesting prescribed medications without first understanding their composition and effects. The children preferred not to consult doctors, as many doctors prescribed fake medicines.

 4)    Kusum reported that the reason she was able to remember so much material was because she learned things by trying to understand, rather than by rote. Kusum reasons that the time pressures on teachers complete the syllabus within limited time is the reason teachers encourage most children learn by rote. Her biology teacher reported that Kusum used conceptual understanding for 80 percent of higher-class material, and rote-learning for the 20 percent of material that was not liable to practical demonstration.

 5)    Vimal reports that he educated himself about hardware and software (he knows several programming languages) on his own by observing students at a nearby computer institute. He judged that the computer institute was not providing adequate knowledge about machine language and codes; therefore he started exploring computers on his own, and has been able to gain a lot of knowledge in this fashion. This course of action suggests that Vimal excels at vicarious learning (learning by observation) and inferential reasoning – enabling him to progress rapidly in academics and other areas of interest.

 6)    Kusum reported making adjustments in her learning strategies [metacognition] depending on the topic. When topics are interesting, she claims, they are easily understood. Thus, she reasoned, one cannot adopt a timetable to study: as one needs to study according to what one’s inclination. She reported that the strategy of using a timetable to study had failed for her despite several attempts. Kusum has an astute assessment of her own abilities, which helps her optimise her learning potential through appropriate strategies. For example, she realises that attention span only lasts about half an hour, and that she needs to take breaks. She was able to identify which topics were difficult for her (e.g. the gastrointestinal system); this knowledge helps her adopt material-appropriate learning strategies.

 Another example of Kusum’s high metacognitive skills occurred during one of her media appearances.  A 70-year old vegetable-vendor, who had attempted the Matriculation exam and failed, asked Kusum how she had managed to pass the exam.  Kusum advised him with clear-cut study strategies.  She told him to prepare answers for six one-mark answer questions per day while he was selling vegetables. She then calculated the number of questions he would be able to learn in this manner over 365 days, and showed him how this would ensure that he secured the minimum number of marks required to pass.

 7)    Both siblings efficiently use multiple sources of information in their studies. Kusum used a combination of her currently prescribed textbooks, her twelfth standard books, and the internet to study the portions.

 8)    The children’s capacity to grasp knowledge may have genetic basis. Both parents, despite being poorly-educated, have been able to grasp some of the children’s lessons. The father reports that hearing Kusum recite the periodic table, he too learned it – he demonstrated this by reciting a portion of the periodic table. Mother has learned to read Hindi and English and can now also write certain basic words such as her name. Father astutely remarks that lessons involving around stories are easy to grasp because of common themes and similar patterns.

 Kusum and Vimal have received and occasionally benefited from media attention; they have received sponsorship from, among others, the Tokyo Broadcasting Service, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee (SGPC), and a collection organised by The Deccan Herald.  

 Vimal is ambitious and wants to make a mark through his work, but is wary of joining the research environment.  He also shows some signs of unrest and disappointment with himself as he is unable to achieve all his goals, partly due to financial constraints.  Though a loner, Vimal appears otherwise a mature and self-reliant teenager.

 Vimal and Kusum would benefit from a sensitive mentor and fruitful opportunities for research in a conducive environment.  Vimal in particular lacks appropriate intellectual stimulation and company. It is important to challenge his abilities in research via an understanding and responsive mentor, as Vimal shows great passion for research.

 

Pallav Singh

Pallav Singh is 13 years old, studying in Std. VIII of a CBSE school in a metropolitan city.  Pallav was brought to our attention by his mother, who identified signs of giftedness.  She contacted the Gifted Education team because Pallav has recently been having problems at school.  Teachers have been complaining of his behaviour in the last two years, especially in the last six months.  Pallav belongs to an upper-middle class family with well-educated parents.  He has an 11-year old brother.

 Pallav appears to be a socially mature and intelligent teenager.  He has high critical thinking skills and refuses to accept rules or statements without logical proof.  He prefers novelty and tires quickly of repetition.  He demands that material learned be of practical relevance.  He shows a gift for independent scientific experimentation.

 Apart from his behavioral difficulties, Pallav appears to be a bright and well-adjusted child.  Friends admire his humour, which can be biting and sarcastic – such as when directed against some teachers whom Pallav considers inept.  He is adaptable and sociable, self-confident and aware of his superior knowledge and ability.  He is described by some teachers as arrogant, and has a history of teasing peers who are not as intelligent, or who stand out for some other reason.  However Pallav has recently become friends with a weaker student in his maths tuition class, helping him academically.  He has formed lasting friendships with several adults

 At preschool age mother trained Pallav intensively at home, including in phonics.  Pallav joined kindergarten at age 4 and did well at school in his early years. 

 Currently, Pallav’s performance is average to above-average in most subjects, but still below his potential.  He places around 10th in the class, being laidback in his attitude to academics and reportedly spending very little time studying. 

 His father, an engineer, used to teach Pallav maths at home.  Father reports that Pallav has excellent mental arithmetic skills and is able to solve problems mentally, and rapidly, foregoing rough work.  Since father was transferred to another town, Pallav has been attending maths tuitions since last academic year.  The tutor describes Pallav as excellent at mathematics, highly able, and aware of his superior ability.  He often uses original techniques to solve problems, which she encourages.  As in other subjects, Pallav dislikes writing down steps and doing rough work, dislikes following elaborate procedures, and demands an explanation for every step.  This could partly explain his under-performance in maths at school.  [Not all teachers or tutors encourage children to solve problems using their own methods.  Pallav also loses marks for not doing rough-work and not showing all the steps.  Have you encountered children who seem to grasp the problem, but who lose marks for these reasons?  How would you manage this issue?] 

 Pallav was a healthy infant and achieved motor developmental milestones close to the median.  He showed precocious fine motor control, beginning with being able to drink milk independently from a glass tumbler at age six months.  (His younger brother also learned to do this at the same age.)  Babbling was delayed but subsequent speech development occurred on schedule.

 Pallav enjoys good health. 

 Pallav’s longstanding interests are physics and mechanics, general science, ships, and the keyboard.  His scientific curiosity became obvious at age 7.  Once around that age, Pallav asked his father what was the speed of an airplane.  His father’s age-appropriate reply was, “Something like the speed of sound.”  Pallav countered, “But sound travels faster – if I speak to my grandfather on the phone I can hear him immediately; but if we visit him on the plane it takes much longer.”  His father then explained to him that in the latter case, sound is converted into electrical impulses and transmitted; Pallav was able to grasp this concept.  Pallav demonstrated, at an early age, the capacity to reason, to be critical, and to relate observations from real life to material learned in in/formal learning situations.

 At age 8, Pallav studied fluid dynamics using a pair of cylindrical toy magnets in the bathtub.  He remarked that magnets spun differently in water than they do in air.  Pallav kept spinning both magnets (which are designed to settle after motion at a set angle to each other).  After several trials, he was able to understand that in water, the magnets always finished up at a consistently different alignment from when they were in air.

 At age 10 Pallav, in a contest with his brother to build a functional boat, successfully built one using accessible materials.  He demonstrated his understanding of physics and structural-level analogical thinking by substituting a pedal for a propeller, reasoning that both behave similarly in water.

 Pallav continues to show high curiosity; precocious observation, reasoning, and conceptual understanding; and aptitude for independent experimentation.  He is able to relate practical concepts and observations to science material, and approaches his science teacher individually with these ideas.  He has attempted to tackle practically relevant problems such as ways to minimise use of fossil fuels.  Pallav uses the internet to learn new skills and concepts.  He often creates practical demonstrations at home based on science concepts.

 Pallav is an avid reader.  He is currently reading Horrible Science, a series aimed at young readers explaining scientific concepts in a concise, child-friendly, humorous format.  He has also read The Chronicles of Narnia, Artemis Fowl, and P. G. Wodehouse.  On television, he usually watches the National Geographic and Discovery channels.  He is not interested in textbook biology but enjoys watching programmes on wildlife – because, he says, they not only present phenomena but explain them as well.  He becomes engrossed and even watches repeat shows, an unusual behaviour as Pallav tolerates repetition poorly in general.  He also watches sitcoms and serials including Friends and The Big Bang Theory. Parents were advised by a psychologist that Pallav was mature enough to handle watching these serials which are directed at a young-adult audience.

 At school, he is interested in maths, especially algebra, and in science; and least interested in Hindi and Sanskrit.  He explains that he dislikes Sanskrit as he cannot see its practical utility.

Pallav demonstrated interest in the keyboard and has been attending a class since age 6.  Pallav prefers to learn on his own, but has continued his keyboard class because his music-tutor has become somewhat of a mentor.  Pallav’s music-teacher at school confirms that Pallav is easily able to pick up tunes by ear and by watching fingerings, usually in a day’s time.  The tunes he can play include “Ill Be Right Here” from the animated film The Lion King, songs by Richard Marx, and many others.  He describes himself as playing fluently with the right hand but less able with the left, able to learn a new tune in half an hour.

 Pallav appears well-adjusted except at school.

 In the last six months, teachers have been complaining of frequent disruptive behaviour from Pallav.  He has befriended a gang of miscreants in the class, whom he incites to make fun of teachers.  Pallav uses his quick wit and sense of humour to provoke laughter at teachers’ expense.  He picks on his Sanskrit teacher in particular.  He explains that he finds learning Sanskrit to have no practical value, and also describes the Sanskrit teacher as “dumb.”  [Have you encountered a situation where a bright child began to display behaviour problems and disrupt the classroom?  How have you managed this situation?]

 Pallav is frequently punished for his misbehaviour by being sent to the principal’s room.  The principal reports that this punishment has no effect on Pallav: while other children are terrified of this punishment, he does not mind it and it does not affect his behaviour.  Pallav’s mother is frequently called in to school about his problems.  Due to Pallav’s recently exacerbated adjustment problems at school, parents have considered a change of school.  [As a teacher, how would you deal with Pallav’s misbehaviour, since punishment seems to have no effect?  Would you recommend that his parents change schools?]  [As a parent, does your child have any behaviour issues at school?  What are the reasons, and how have you dealt with the issue?]

 Though teachers unanimously describe Pallav as bright and a fast learner – they also assert that he has been under-performing in school.  This is primarily due to his dislike of writing and of the repetition of material and tasks, which he views as meaningless; also, he is energetic and finds it difficult to sit still.  He often leaves his work incomplete or does it shoddily; he has also lost marks on exams because he leaves answers incomplete.  Pallav seems indifferent to his performance and unmotivated by competition.

 In his subjects of interest, Pallav has already read and understood the textbook, and is bored in class; his Science teacher recognises that Pallav needs “something beyond the syllabus,” and tries to provide further challenge.  [As a teacher, what type of challenges would you provide a gifted child who has already mastered the material?]

 Pallav’s behavioral difficulties seem to be centred on particular teachers with whom he has poor rapport and in whose subject he is not interested, i.e. Hindi, Social Science, and Sanskrit.  In fact, Pallav has developed a reputation for being a troublemaker.  Some teachers suggest that the source of Pallav’s behavioral difficulties may be that he has been spoiled at home.  Pallav’s parents appear desperate for help in managing his behavioral problems at school.  They consulted a psychologist, who was unable to help.  While parents do not explicitly condone Pallav’s misbehaviour, but they be doing so implicitly.  Parents, especially mother, seem tolerant of his disciplinary issues at school.  Mother believes that his teachers do not understand Pallav’s ability or his motives (a belief which our interviews with teachers partially confirmed), and also believes that the fact that Pallav is bored in class to some extent excuses his misbehaviour.  There is an implicit parental sanction of Pallav’s misbehaviour at school, with parents sharing Pallav’s view that some of his teachers are not qualified enough or intelligent enough to handle a class.  [As a parent, what steps would you take in this situation?  Would you talk to the teachers, or change schools?  Note that Pallav’s mother is frequently called to meet the principal regarding Pallav’s behaviour issues, and that the problem continues.]

 Pallav has developed friendships with several sympathetic and well-informed adults over time.  These are his class-teacher in primary school, his music-tutor, and a family friend, a physicist in his 30s.  His primary-school class-teacher presented an interesting account of Pallav’s behavioral difficulties: she claimed that Pallav was capable of behaving well if a) his queries of why he should or should not do something were answered logically, and b) if teachers took the time to understand Pallav, gain his respect, and establish a rapport with him. Note that this teacher is now the principal of the primary section (to which Pallav no longer belongs) and has a large knowledge-base of children.

 Parents are keen to avail Pallav of challenging activities outside school.  To a great extent Pallav demonstrates the ability to find challenging activities on his own.  However he could benefit by being linked to a mentor to foster his interest in science and further develop his self-regulated learning skills.  A mentor should also attempt to understand and address his behavioral problems at school.