What is it about?

Lewis Terman is widely seen as the father of gifted education and a pioneer in intelligence testing. But his work is sometimes viewed as controversial today. In this article, I examine his scholarly writings and show that traditional criticisms--that he was racist, over-obsessed with IQ, or ignorant of environmental influences on intelligence--are oversimplified. On the other hand, critics have generally overlooked his tendency to form strong opinions on the basis of weak data. I also discuss his Genetic Studies of Genius at length.

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Why is it important?

It is impossible to overstate the importance of Lewis Terman to gifted education. However, in recent decades many people have criticized his work and tried to minimize his influence. I show in this article that many of his ideas--though not always based on the best data at the time--are actually scientifically supported today. I also explore the strengths and flaws of his famous longitudinal study, the Genetic Studies of Genius.


This article is related to two I have published recently. One was an argument to incorporate more research about human intelligence into gifted education (Warne, 2016, in Gifted Child Quarterly). Another was a study of income differences among grade skippers and non-grade skippers in the Terman sample (Warne & Liu, 2017, in Learning and Instruction). I feel like this article is a good bridge between the other two AND it educates people and dispels myths that surround the Genetic Studies of Genius.

Dr Russell T. Warne
Independent Scholar

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This page is a summary of: An Evaluation (and Vindication?) of Lewis Terman: What the Father of Gifted Education Can Teach the 21st Century, Gifted Child Quarterly, October 2018, SAGE Publications, DOI: 10.1177/0016986218799433.
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