Excerpted with minor edits from THE UNDERSERVED: OUR YOUNG GIFTED CHILDREN Merte B. Karnes (ed); The Council for Exceptional Children, Virginia, 1983 ISBN O-86586-147-1.
While no two underachievers are alike, the following characteristics are associated frequently with underachievement:
- negative attitudes toward school and learning
- immature relationships with parents or feelings of parental rejection;
- moodiness, depression, rebellion;
- male gender;
- poor self-esteem, feelings of persecution;
- rationalization of shortcomings, transfer of blame to others;
- proneness to fantasize;
- poor interpersonal relationships, distrust of others;
- lack of persistence, susceptibility to distraction, procrastination;
- hostility toward authority figures;
- lack of self-discipline
- failure to accept responsibility for actions;
- deficient leadership ability;
- either a shortage of hobbies or over-commitment to them;
- dislike of competition;
- high incidence of emotional problems;
- sensitivity to criticism;
- tendency to criticize others;
- unrealistic goals.
[Fine 1967; Gallagher 1975; Pringle 1970; Whitmore 1980].
Gifted children are unusually sensitive. Hence, they are more perceptive of the attitudes of others and more apt to react keenly to mishandling or to an unstimulating environment. Prevention of underachievement among young gifted children is a special challenge and a goal of good gifted education programming.
Causes of Underachievement
While underachievement is baffling and complex, a number of causes are generally agreed upon:
These causes fall into four categories:
- physical disability;
- educational program and curricula that fail to challenge;
- sociological/home environment that does not value education;
- psychological/home environment where parents are unable/unwilling to foster the development of their gifted child.
[Bricklin and Bricklin 1967; Combs 1965; Fine 1967; Gallagher 1975; Karnes, McCoy, Zehrback, Wollersheim, Clarizio, Costin, and Stanley 1961; Pringle 1970; Whitmore 1980].