13-Year-Old Triple Major at Morehouse College - Should His Exception be the Rule?

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    Jan 20, 2010 7:20 PM GMT
    Dr Boyce Watkins of BlackVoices.comAt thirteen years of age, Stephen Stafford is causing quite a stir at Morehouse College. Stafford has a triple major in pre-med, math and computer science. Though he loves playing video games and playing his drum set, he is no typical teenager.
    The article has a very strong black slant (as expected), but the article raises some questions.
    >> Is his kind of academic excellence unique or is it something we could all have attained? Is it something that education systems aren't able to cultivate?
    >> Is college at 13 years old too much too soon? I wonder how he interacts with people his age -- given he has interests outside of academics, I'd like to assume academics don't consume him.
    >> How can he manage to triple major in several subjects? (unless he's planning to be there until he's 18, lol)
    >> What could we learn from homeschooling that could be applied in the classroom.
    >> And most importantly -- What happened with him between years 0 and 11, I wanna know, lol.

    What do you guys think??
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    Jan 20, 2010 8:39 PM GMT
    im very proud of this kid even though i dont know him personally. He will be someone of great importance in the future.
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    Jan 20, 2010 8:42 PM GMT
    I think I wouldn't want the burden of being that child. Stories like this make me worry about children who are taught to equate performance with affection. Nothing he will ever do will meet his own expectations, nor likely those of his promoters. I fear for a life on unrealized expectations.
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    Jan 20, 2010 9:18 PM GMT
    Rawrly saidAs someone who was skipped ahead grades, etc, I have to say I am worried about people like this. They usually become very socially stunted and this will later adversely affect their performance.

    I agree--I only skipped one grade (5th) and for several years I did not relate well with my peers--I eventually caught up at the tail end of high school and in college but I think the adverse affects you speak still pop up every now and then. At the same time you can't hold a capable person back either--I was really bored in the 5th grade. Even while taking my placement test for the 6th grade I had time to answer a math question in class being offered by the teacher!

    Everyone was so annoyed; they were struggling and jealous it came so easy for me. I was labeled a know it all, teacher pet and called preppy for years--it was really hurtful. I tried to make my self smaller and less of a stand out so others would not feel so much in my shadow because I was also I gifted athlete on top of it! Add all that up with being a little queer and it was not fun to say the least. So, those are adverse affects too if a child who is clearly ahead is forced to stay on a level far below their capabilities --It is a case of what is the best thing for that child in question. My third grade teacher was the first to point out I should be moved ahead then stating she believed the sooner the better as I would make the adjustment around more mature kids sooner and the differences become more clear as you get older. A couple years later there was really no option because I was being teased way too much by my peers my own age but below me academically. I would think this is likely what would happen to a 13 year boy genius in the 7th grade, or 8th grade too, but at the pre-teen level it would be way worse. Adults (even in college) are better at trying to at least understand what is going on.
  • CuriousJockAZ

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    Jan 21, 2010 12:09 AM GMT
    I think it depends on the child and his social abilities and ability to adapt. A kid that intelligent might feel stunted being with kids his own age who simply are not where he is intellectually. On the other hand, I agree with some of the concerns of others who have experienced being moved ahead in school. Still, I think it has to be handled on a case by case basis. Gifted children need to be nurtured and allowed to explore their full potential.
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    Jan 21, 2010 12:12 AM GMT
    These kids either end up as really messed up, socially retarded adults... or freakin' Jeremy Bentham.
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    Jan 21, 2010 12:48 AM GMT

    It's especially unique given he's only 13 and attending college. His mother might wanted him to realize how powerful an education is and what he will be able to do once he's complete, and he understood that at an early age

    You gotta look at it, in a time where people are losing their jobs there are still jobs available, people just do not have enough experience for them. When he finally reaches lets say 18 or 20 he is going to have job security for a lonnnnng time and possibly life.

    This young man is a quick learner, I don't think his social skill are going to be in jeopardy as long as he has a good mentor to guide him and make sure hes well rounded.

    and with smaller class sizes you can get students to focus more so than a class of 20~30 which is the norm in public schools.
  • MSUBioNerd

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    Jan 21, 2010 2:37 AM GMT
    The social aspect has me concerned; the academics, not so much. Math and Comp Sci have extremely large overlaps at many institutions. Further, while I've never attended a school where pre-med was an actual major -- those intending medical school most often took degrees in Biology, Kinesiology, etc.-- the premed requirements aren't too onerous: a certain amount of math and physics that would be covered by a Math or Comp Sci degree anyway, and then 2 years each of Biology and Chemistry courses.

    Still, even for those with the intellectual capability of dealing with the coursework, actually being at college at the age of 13 is something that only an extreme minority will manage to handle in other aspects. Most of the 16-year-olds in the accelerated program in my college Freshman class couldn't handle the social reality of college; it seems unlikely that many 13-year-olds would fare much better.
  • jrs1

    Posts: 4388

    Jan 21, 2010 10:01 AM GMT

    burn out: I hope that it does not get to him. good luck to him and all of his endeavors.
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    Jan 21, 2010 10:28 AM GMT
    or, he could become like...

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    Jan 21, 2010 10:50 AM GMT
    13 is way too young to be doing university. If he's super smart and needs the stimulus, sure let him do a few classes, but I think he should be kept at school so he can grow up with kids his own age.