We met in some organizations of people with IQ who are among the most intelligent 2% – 5% of the population. I remember here The League of Geniuses and Romanian High IQ Society. Please tell us a few words about yourself, so that our readers have a clear picture of you. Can you describe yourself in a few words?
My name is Jeffery Alan Ford and I am the World Genius Directory’s 2016 Genius of the Year for America, Mensa Member, author who has been read by millions of people, YouTube video creator and TED speaker.
Did your special intelligence help or affect you in school years?
My quick mind and high level of intelligence has been a blessing and a curse throughout my life. I absolutely despised attending public school, partly because the lessons proceeded so slowly. My mind would wander and the material was often taught by disinterested instructors to disinterested students and it often felt like it was a cruel and demeaning waste of time.
I learned during college that when I am allowed to take arranged courses where I can learn at my natural speed, that I can complete entire semesters in just a few weeks. The speed of which allows me to remain focused, stay interested and to achieve at my highest levels. The slow nature of pre-University education was a tortuous waste of my youth, intellectual potential and energies. I absolutely despised almost every facet of grade school.
How does the American educational system handle the gifted young people, with their potential, their specific needs and the problems they encounter?
In the United States of America, individual schools differ greatly in terms of the availability of advanced courses and the quality of instruction. Some schools provide AP (Advanced Placement) courses, excellent math, science and training in the arts; while other schools only offer the bare minimum.
Many parents with gifted children are homeschooling their children in order to take advantage of the freedom to learn at a more thorough and exponentially quicker pace, while using computer based resources and texts chosen by the students family and educational advisors. Gifted students (and other students) will also attend a variety of camps during the summer where gifted students can learn more about the subjects and interests they care about the most.
The sad truth is that many gifted students are never even recognized as being gifted because schools focus so much on the grades and not as much on the actual realities of the gifts the children possess. Many of the most gifted children aren’t always going to show up in the classroom as the best students in the class.
Much of the course work required for success in our schools is based far more on the memorization and regurgitation of facts, instead of on the assimilation of facts and the thoughtful application of what the students have learned.
How can we overcome the negative aspects of the teasing and bullying of high IQ children?
All teachers should have mandatory training in how to best curb the bullying of all of their students. While (because of human nature) we will never see the end of bullying, we must make teachers more aware that they aren’t doing their students a favor by stopping bullying from occurring in the classrooms and in the hallways – they’re doing their job.
Teachers also should be trained in how to help counsel both the students who are doing the bullying and also the students who are being bullied. Being bullied is humiliating and can make students feel powerless. Bullied students must be made aware that there are teachers and administrators who will intervene for them in order to help secure a safe environment for all students to matriculate.
What are your achievements in supporting the high IQ people and communities?
My YouTube channel has videos on topics such as creating a truly genius education for highly intelligent students, increasing your intelligence, cognitive dissonance, the Dunning-Kruger Effect, Impostor Syndrome, why we join high IQ societies … and so much more.
I’ve also been a guest on radio shows and podcasts discussing these subjects and have had numerous articles published on topics related to an intelligent lifestyle and human interest.
My speeches and TED talk have also brought me closer to gifted students and adults because I often speak about Asperger’s Syndrome. Many members of my high IQ groups have felt comfortable enough to tell me in private that they have Asperger’s Syndrome as well.
How much importance would you give to high IQ communities?
High IQ communities can serve an incredibly important purpose in the lives of those with high IQs who desire to become a member. Life can feel quite lonely when your local community, school or place of employment is nearly (or completely) void of those whose intelligence is of a higher level.
High IQ communities provide a place for members to associate with others with strong minds who can then often help to sharpen each others minds and to provide an intellectual environment which helps the individual members to feel less alone.
If you join a high IQ community and it just doesn’t work out well for you … just become a member of a different one, or two, or three different societies. Not all high IQ societies are the same, so find the one that is right for you!
Has mass-media the power to bring into attention the situation of the gifted young people?
Yes, the mass media could be doing much more to help bring attention to the plight of gifted children and adults. Television, movies and books often portray gifted individuals as being out of touch loser nerds and geeks who will never get a date. These images are hurtful especially when they are coupled with showing the “bad boys” being so popular and attracting all of the opposite sex.
The Big Bang Theory television show and legendary movies such as Good Will Hunting and A Dangerous Mind helped to humanize brilliant individuals and cast us in popular culture in a more positive light.
I’ve personally been utilizing mass media radio shows, podcasts, YouTube and print media to help draw attention to the many ways we could help to lift up both gifted children and adults. We need to continue to contribute stories of excellence and the challenges we face to the news media in order to keep ourselves relevant in popular culture.
In your vision, how can we support the children with extraordinary intelligence?
We need to allow the best and brightest students to advance at their own rate of speed without being forced to be held back by the slowest members in the classroom. Computer based learning (math, language, etc.) can help children to progress rapidly.
It’s also important not to expect children to do the teachers job by making them unpaid tutors for struggling students at the cost of their own advancement.
Stress the importance of the arts and creativity and allow them ample opportunity to pursue their own special interests as long as they are appropriate for that particular child.
Recognize that the best students are not always the most intelligent students. Intelligence testing can go a long way in helping to spot the highly intelligent students in your class that might be overlooked and under-performing.
Have the most intelligent students working together by themselves on a variety of tasks in order for them to feel a part of ‚the team’ with their peers. It’s easy to feel like a ‚freak’ if you’re usually the most intelligent person in the room – working with your peers can be quite enlightening and educational!
Teach students the power of questions. The Dialogues of Plato is an excellent book that I read slowly and deliberately over and over again during high school. It can help to teach philosophy, history and the power of questions at a very deep level.
Can someone with average intelligence become excellent by other means than by nature?
Yes! There are highly successful people with various levels on intelligence that can run from the low normal to the genius range, and also successful people with profound physical disabilities (like the late Stephen Hawking.)
People can become successful from working hard, being creative, thinking differently, being kind and by developing powerful rapport with those they come into contact with (which can go a long way in business and sales).
There is a place in this world for everybody’s strengths and nobody should ever feel excluded from living a life of greatness simply due to a lack of physical or intellectual strengths that were bestowed upon them at birth.
How can we as adults most responsibly interact with highly intelligent children during the educational process?
It’s absolutely imperative that you mustn’t ever talk down to a high IQ child or any other child unless you’re interacting with a developmentally disabled child. Talking down to and/or patronizing a child is an unhelpful, unnecessary and belittling act often innocently inflicted by many well-intentioned adults.
It’s also important that you don’t expect perfection in any task or believe that the highly intelligent student should be equally gifted in every subject area. Everybody has their strengths and weaknesses, as well as their successes and failures. Gifted students must be allowed to fail in order to also feel safe and secure while brainstorming potentially world altering, creative ideas and solutions.
Is it true that the change must first come from ourselves before we can change other people’s perception?
We must always remain aware that we can never fully control other peoples perceptions of us because many people have built in prejudices that they have carried for years that we may never be able to overcome. That said, we can often change our behavior, vocabulary and the approach that we take with others in order for them to best understand the messages we are attempting to convey with them.
We are all flawed human beings and we all need and deserve compassion at times. I’ve found that developing my heart as well as my head has made me a better decision maker and a better overall human being because you cannot give to anyone else that which you do not first possess yourself.