Klaus Minges (phD)

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Mentoring gifted children

deutscher Text

In modern business the meaning of "mentoring" became restricted to the coaching of younger employees by senior staff. I prefer to use the word according to the classical definition "senior friend, giving all kinds of advice". This is about social competence, general knowledge and most of all, emotional support. These items would be helpful in business life as well, but who would acknowledge that? Thus I refer to youngsters, them being more open to new ideas. At this age, the influence of a mentor may last not only for a tax year but for the rest of their life.

Some underperforming children in school are just underchallenged, reacting unwise on their boredom. They might dispose of a whole spectre of gifts, not all of which are recognized or taken into account by their social environment. As school must focus on the average pupil, the teacher cannot support them more than others, though gifted kids would need as much care as underperformers. In this case, mentoring can solve the problem. "Guys of six feet and above must eat more than average, too."

The mentor is checking, taking care of the personal gift pattern and interests of the mentee, mediating between him/her and the peers and trying to correct false behavior and/or unfortunate conditions. Adding on the support of weak points, mentoring puts universal encouragement to the forefront, thus opening new horizons that would otherwise remain shrouded.

The first step is naming specific talents lying beyond average, thus creating a pattern of talents. These need not fulfil certain minimal standards; an unfortunate combination can cause damage, may the single talent being clasified as high performance or just average. The following gifts can turn out negative (in combination with other personal characteristics):

  • "classical" intelligence (language/logic)
  • Creativity
  • Divergent thinking

Special gifts are often combined with trouble inside the social environment, causing depression or aggression. After a good start in school, the performance of a child under psychological stress will decrease.

The obvious aim of the mentor is the wellbeing of his mentee, which means making sure he/she isn't underchallenged, may it be in school or in his/her own time. A specialist could add to specific disciplines, a "senior friend" however serves as a confident peer, bringing in some appreciation not found in the social environment. He may even level out a lack of family support.

The challenge for the mentee will be to bear with less gifted peers, when it comes to slow or flawed actions. The aim is gaining a positive approach to "normal" society, to prevent negative feelings about social interaction.

Additionally, a specialist checking on ADD is recommended.


Multi-talents and ADD

Papers (in german):

Signs of Giftedness
Steering creativity
Solving problems in a creative way (PDF, 156 kb)
Drugs and radicalism (PDF, 24 kb)
Adult ADHS (PDF, 44 kb)

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