FOUND IT! A book from 1959 and a story that made me sad
Once Upon a Time as a teenager in the late 1980s in my Public Library, I read a book that followed GIFTED CHILDREN through to MIDDLE AGE. It was an old book when I read it, much older now. Didn’t think I’d find it just now, but I did. In it, a story that made me feel a little sad as a teenager, “what if but did the best he could”. The story of C.J. from: _Genetic studies of genius. Vol. V. The gifted group at mid-life._, Terman, Lewis
It is not surprising, of course, that the gifted men who have had the advantage of college training, often at the graduate level, should be in positions of importance and prestige in the professions and the business world. It is, however, of special interest when those without such educational advantages rise to positions of importance in competition with college-trained men. One such example follows.
C. J., whose formal schooling was limited to high school and 6 units of college mathematics taken in extension courses, moved from Group III to Group I between 1940 and 1955. He was one of a family of two children (brother and sister), both of whom were selected for the gifted study. For various reasons the boy, although he had had a strong interest in science and engineering since childhood, did not go to college. The fact that he completed high school at a time of economic stress (the early 1930’s) may have been one determining factor behind his failure to enter college. His parents, although they had hoped he would continue his education, were not able to help him financially. More important, however, were his poor school grades, which made it necessary that he take “make-up” courses to qualify for college, and at that time he could see no reason for spending time on subjects in which he was not interested. Probably the most crucial factor in his dropping out of school was the failure of the school itself to recognize his unusual ability or to offer any real guidance during his high-school years. His reluctance to conform to a school routine and his lack of application to his studies even though, according to the report from the high school, he showed “occasional flashes of brilliance” apparently obscured his great gifts. Left entirely on his own with little sympathetic stimulation and no guidance, he went to work on leaving high school, with the Intention of saving money for college study and a degree in engineering. It was an unfavorable time for financial progress, but C. J. remained employed all through the depression. He began at a fairly unskilled level but after a few years found work in the field of machine design where he made excellent progress. During this period he studied informally and still clung to his ambition of taking an engineering degree and as he came to hope a graduate degree in physics. When his income became sufficiently secure that he might have gone to college, war threatened and he turned instead to war work. During World War II he was on the research staff of a highly secret and important laboratory, working side by side with graduate physicists, often on his own projects, an honor usually accorded only Ph.D/s. When this research laboratory was discontinued at the end of the war, he was appointed to the engineering staff at a military ordnance laboratory. Because of his fine work as a project engineer on important military developments, he received a promotional appointment to the GS-12 level under a “meritorious exception.” This was a distinct honor since, under Civil Service regulations, an individual without a college degree is ineligible for advancement beyond the grade of GS-7.
However, greater honors were in store for C. J. He was recently fully qualified as a mechanical engineer, GS-12, thus removing the “meritorious exception” qualification. This action made further promotion possible and he now heads a branch of the optical engineering division in a military research and development center. His work, on a high professional level, is concerned with guided missile instrumentation.
C. J. is now in his early forties, married, and the father of three children. He is active in school and community affairs and his hobbies include music, photography, and reading. Among the magazines read regularly are the Atlantic Monthly and Scientific American, and books he has recently read include Modern Arms and Free Men ( Vannevar Bush), Language in Action (Hayakawa), and Human Destiny (Lecomte du Noiiy). His Binet IQ at age 10 was 154 and his Terman Group Test score in 1928 at age 17 was within a few points of a perfect score. And it was then that the school complained of his argumentativeness and failure to respond to discipline, and noted his failure in various school subjects, despite the A he received in chemistry! On the Concept Mastery tests taken in 1940 and 1951 he scored far higher than the average college graduate and placed nearly 20 points above the average of the gifted men. In view of his continued high intelligence rating and his remarkable scientific ability especially in physics and engineering one wonders how much farther he might have gone and how much greater might have been his contribution to knowledge had his talents been recognized early and adequate guidance and motivation been provided.