Gifted children have long played an integral role in books, movies and television. One of the all-time classic examples of that is the 1985 science fiction best-seller “Ender’s Game.” And now that the book has been turned into a movie, its lessons in raising a child who is imbued with a special intellect and extraordinary capabilities has once again made the issue of gifted student education, and the role IQ tests play in determining that designation, a popular one in the national academic debate.
The story of “Ender’s Game”
“Ender’s Game,” written by Orson Scott Card, is about a gifted young child – Ender Wiggins – who is recruited to lead Earth’s forces in an intergalactic battle with an alien race of bugs who once attacked the planet.
Ender is viewed as Earth’s only hope, and the meticulous recounting of his training, which makes up the bulk of the story, provides several lessons in how to challenge gifted young minds as they develop into adulthood and take on greater responsibilities.
While it is extraordinarily unlikely that your gifted child will be part of a war to decide the fate of mankind, there are many aspects of the story that force the reader to think about when and how much to push especially talented kids in order to get them to realize their full potential.
Ender has two primary mentors in the story: Colonel Hyrum Graff, who presides over the Battle School, where Ender trains, and Mazer Rackham, a commander from the first war with the alien race who is credited with having led the human forces to victory. Each man, in his own way, pushes and prods Ender, sometimes to the point of breaking him, in order to ensure that he is prepared to take on the enemy.
While no one would recommend that you lean on your gifted child as hard as those two men do on Ender, there is something to be learned from the different strategies they use.
One noteworthy lesson from “Ender’s Game”
One of the most vexing problems Ender must face, and one that is promulgated by Graff and Rackham, is isolation. Many gifted children will stand out from their peers, leading to situations where they will have to learn and adapt on their own. For Ender, this is one of the keys to his maturation. For most gifted children, it’s a situation that must be handled delicately, finding a balance between encouraging them to branch out on their own while also learning important social skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.