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Nurturing giftedness

There are some gifted kids who are very studious and focused but I was pretty much a normal kid. I hung out with other kids, played video games, built LEGOs and did not study 24/7.

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PHOTO shows (from left) PCGE president Dr. Leticia Peñano-Ho, advisory board members Dr. Perry Esguerra, Prof. Mauricia Borromeo, Annabelle Sangalan, Dr. Elizabeth Vivien Magbata and Dr. Liezel Angeles.

The season of giving has arrived and left and everyone would have loved to receive this gift — innate or natural intelligence. The few lucky ones may perceive it as a burden given high expectations, or worse, that they are not given the chance to develop it.

Ryan Tumbocon, who has long been one of the poster boys of the gifted ones, said being labeled as one may cause detachment. While considered smart, he did not consider himself different or even superior from the rest.

“Detachment came more as a result of how I felt I was being treated so it’s about you detaching yourself. I always try to make friends and did have a lot of friends growing up. But later on, people would brand you as a ‘teachers’ pet’ because you get all the praises and that’s not within your control. So, the detachment was more as result of that, but not for the lack of trying,” he said as one of the guest experts during the recent two-day Promil Four conference about “Revisiting Multiple Intelligences in Nurturing the Gifted” conducted by the Philippine Center for Gifted Education Inc. (PCGE) at the Hive Hotel and Convention Place in Quezon City.

“Because growing up, I thought I was a very friendly child. Even now, when I see a stranger at the bench, I could strike a conversation. You can control the way you think and you act but you cannot control what other people think,” he shared.

Perceptions and misconceptions

In his case, being different was imposed by the people around him.

“In Ateneo, we spoke in English a lot, but when I transferred to a co-ed school, students did not speak in English as much. The moment I introduced myself, there was already a brand, that I was elitista and mayabang. So, from the first impression, there was already detachment but you didn’t mean to make one. But that is how it was perceived so that was difficult,” he recalled.

He also debunked the usual image of gifted children as studious. “There are some gifted kids who are very studious and focused but I was pretty much a normal kid. I hung out with other kids, played video games, built LEGOs and did not study 24/7. I was really being open to people and trying to form genuine relationships.”

Contrary to notions on gifted children, Ryan Tumbocon says that he had a normal childhood.

Nature vs nurture

He said nature and nurture are important factors for a gifted child.

“There’s the classic argument of nature versus nurture. I don’t think it can be either or — it’s just a product or a combination of both. If you can have parents who are genetically smart and are innately smart, and not just the studious one, there’s a bigger chance that their kids would have the same innate abilities,” he said.

In characterizing nurture, he says it is like a ball of clay that has potential. But without nurture, it remains a ball of clay.

“I can study quickly but if I don’t put in the effort, the smarts will be just like that and would not develop into something more. The genetics side cannot be discounted, but if I work hard enough, can I be gifted? Now, there’s a difference between potential and performance. Potential is what you are innately born with and performance is how you develop that and perform,” Tumbocon pointed out.

While considered smart, he did not consider himself different or even superior from the rest.

The said conference helped the participants understand the nature of multiple intelligences and learn how to develop themselves more. The conference also sought to understand the learning process and strategies in helping children develop their potential.

Joining PCGE president Dr. Leticia Peñano-Ho during the conference were PCGE advisory board members Dr. Perry Esguerra, Prof. Mauricia Borromeo, Annabelle Sangalan, Dr. Elizabeth Vivien Magbata and Dr. Liezel Angeles.

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