"Kaufman presents a convincing 'theory of personal intelligence.' But what emerges most clearly is how all childrengifted, disabled or simply humming with untapped abilitiesneed a fine-tuned, holistic education to shine in their own extraordinary ways."Nature
"Kaufman makes a convincing case for incorporating valuable but less easily measured attributes into our view of intelligence.... Most powerfully, Kaufman illustrates the importance of uncovering what gives each person his or her own brand of intelligence, taking into account individual goals, psychologies and brain chemistry."Scientific American Mind
"A good read...introduces the reader to the world of intelligence testing in a highly literate style and pulls back the curtain on some very bad practices in public schools.... Kaufman makes a strong case that anyone can be great, even the 'ungifted.'"Post and Courier
"A warmly human and coolly scientific survey of both the reductive and the liberating fruits of two centuries of cognitive research."The Scientist
"A convincingand movingcase for the great potential of even an 'ordinary' mind."Parade
"Fascinating.... A smart, lucid, and down-to-earth exposition of the underlying neuroscience and the contentious history of theories of intelligence.... Blending incisive analysis with a warm sympathy for intellectual insecuritiesand potentialKaufman demonstrates that even the most ordinary mind is a strange and wondrous gift."Publishers Weekly
"Kaufman's portrait of the history of intelligence provides a background on experiments in cognitive psychology, biographical information about influential researchers, and details of his own experience in the special education classroom, making this academic work also personal. Highly recommended for readers curious about human intelligence." Library Journal, starred review
"Kaufman makes a convincing case that stereotyping students is not only unsupported by research, but also discriminatory.... An inspiring, informative affirmation of human potential combined with an overview of historical developments in standardized tests, cognitive psychology and current research."Kirkus Reviews
"A moving personal story of overcoming the effects of having been labeled as learning disabled, and at the same time a wide ranging exploration of a set of fascinating topics related to ability, learning, and achievement. An inspiring account that should both educate and give hope to children, teachers, and parents."Ellen Winner, professor of psychology, Boston College, and author of Gifted Children: Myths and Realities
"Ungifted provides a wealth of information about unlocking the potential of those at all levels of the IQ and personality scales. It is interwoven with the author's early life history, which was a tragedy of misdiagnosis."
James R. Flynn, emeritus professor of politics, University of Otago, and author of What is Intelligence?
"Ungifted insightfully interweaves a personal story with scientific research to prove that many of us have special gifts that can lead to greatness. Scott Barry Kaufman shows that we just cannot let others tell us what those gifts are."Dean Keith Simonton, distinguished professor of psychology, University of California, Davis, and author of Origins of Genius
The vexed issues of what great intelligence is and whether it’s as crucial to success as we imagine spur this fascinating treatise on cognitive psychology. Psychologist and Psychology Today blogger Kaufman explores the many controversial questions surrounding intelligence and its cultivation. Is it a single thing measurable by an IQ number, or a repertoire of distinct talents? Is it dictated by genes or shaped by environment? Does it foretell creative intellectual contributions or is it just an index of test-taking skills and the result of having a well-heeled family? Can people develop and increase their intelligence—and how? (Practice and “grit,” it seems, can move mountains.) Kaufman explores the subject through a smart, lucid, and down-to-earth exposition of the underlying neuroscience and the contentious history of theories of intelligence, and delves into lurid expressions of giftedness: child prodigies; savants with astounding memories; brilliant artists teetering on the brink of madness. He interweaves episodes from his own youth as a decidedly ungifted special-ed kid diagnosed with a learning disability who, through determination and pluck, overcame doubts that he could finish high school and wound up at Yale and Cambridge. Blending incisive analysis with a warm sympathy for intellectual insecurities—and potential—Kaufman demonstrates that even the most ordinary mind is a strange and wondrous gift. Photos & appendices. Agent: Giles Anderson, Anderson Literary Agency. (June 4)
In 1905, Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon published the Binet-Simon Intelligence Scale. Revised in 1916 by Lewis Terman, the renamed Stanford-Binet scale became the authoritative reference in intelligence testing. When IQ scores were introduced into the classroom to distinguish among different types of students, categories of the learning disabled and gifted were created. Here, psychologist Kaufman (psychology, New York Univ.; blogger, Scientific American Mind) retraces the history of intelligence dating from the last 100 years. He explains in depth the criticism around intelligence testing and introduces readers to the important concepts missing in classic definitions of intelligence such as self-expression, passion, and intuition. He concludes by defining his own Theory of Personal Intelligence, "which integrates research on psychometric intelligence with experimental work on spontaneous cognition and considers an individual's personal goals, development, and unique characteristics." VERDICT Kaufman's portrait of the history of intelligence provides a background on experiments in cognitive psychology, biographical information about influential researchers, and details of his own experience in the special education classroom, making this academic work also personal. Highly recommended for readers curious about human intelligence.—Maryse Breton, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec
Cognitive psychologist Kaufman (Psychology/New York Univ.; co-author: Mating Intelligence Unleashed: The Role of Mind in Sex, Dating and Love, 2013, etc.) describes how he overcame a learning disability and defied expectations despite doing poorly on IQ tests. At the age of 3--after finally being cured of a series of ear infections that had impeded his hearing--the author was left with a central auditory processing disorder that slowed his understanding of speech. As a result, Kaufman was set on the special education track, where he remained until middle school, when he convinced his parents and teachers that he could succeed in a normal classroom. The author admits that children with learning disabilities need special help to develop alternative learning strategies and work at their own pace, but he is sharply critical of special ed classes that set the bar too low on achievement and use IQ tests to label children. Kaufman makes a convincing case that stereotyping students is not only unsupported by research, but also discriminatory. He emphasizes how lowered expectations of slow learners causes them to develop low self-esteem, diminishes their motivation and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, magnifying the effects of early learning disabilities--which, with proper education, can be overcome. In Kaufman's case, cello lessons helped him maintain his self-esteem. The author aligns himself with evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker on the need to redefine intelligence more broadly. Coupling his own experience with that of Temple Grandin and Daniel Tammet, who describe how they think using images, he suggests that the development of expertise, associative thinking and pattern recognition are aspects of creative intelligence not revealed by IQ testing. An inspiring, informative affirmation of human potential combined with an overview of historical developments in standardized tests, cognitive psychology and current research.