Let us call her Faith.
Faith was in P3. She entered the class with eyes which darted every which way. Her eyes explored everything except the worksheet. When her friends were discussing, she moved behind the mini whiteboard, doodled, played with the duster.
I diagnosed "addiction to computer games."
Her parents took her off computer games completely. The child stayed resolutely dense. Once, in class, I reviewed with her how to spell a certain word. We reviewed it 10 times. Each time, she spelled it wrong immediately after. I made a mental note to myself. Something else was at play because no one can be that slow.
I diagnosed "buat bodoh syndrome." See HERE.
I gave her parents the normal solution to "buat bodoh syndrome." This only half-fixed the problem. Faith calibrated her slowness to learn. She never again was unbelievably slow to learn. Yet, she was not fast. Faith's parents pitied this poor child. They sincerely believed that Faith was so dumb that they needed to spend more time with her than with Faith's brother, Gideon.
I had a different view.
For months, I felt an undercurrent of a sharp intelligence. Faith's Mama was a very intelligent woman who had built up a small Mom and Pop business inherited from her parents into a regional presence. If IQ is inherited, how can Faith be so dumb? Further, I saw impressive flashes of Faith's intelligence when I set up controlled experiments in class to surface it. It was like glimpsing the fox spirit's tail. When you see a tail peeking out even ONCE from under the dress of a fox spirit in human form, you know it is there. For some reason that I could not fathom, Faith went to great lengths to hide her impressive intelligence.
Even though I had spent months mapping the family dynamics, the root of Faith's issue escaped me until one day, when parent coaching Faith's mama, I heard Faith's mama say, "If she cannot make it academically, we will let her run our company."
Remember that my PhD in Business, is in Human Motivation? I saw the root of Faith's issue immediately, then! The incentive system was completely inappropriate! I said, "Mama, you are incentivising incompetence. You spend more time with the incompetent one and you promise her the inheritance if she is incompetent. You need to do the exact opposite!"
So, Faith's mama had a talk with her 2 children - Faith and Gideon. This was what she said, "The company is my 3rd child. I need this 3rd child to ensure my old age. I will only dare to entrust this child to the person who can show me that he/she is able to take it and grow it. If neither of you succeed academically, it shows me that you are not intelligent enough to help my company prosper. I will sell the company and use the money for my retirement. That is better than giving it to you and having you run it into the ground."
For Faith, it was like turning on a switch. Overnight, her intelligence became plain for all to see. Faith's intelligence far surpassed even my expectations. She was so good at pretending to be stupid that she fooled even me! Now, I know that it takes a very intelligent person to act stupid convincingly. Faith was very convincing. Someone who could not spell a word 10 times immediately after reviewing it, has just passed up a moving and vivid composition with NO spelling mistake.
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