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Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  233 ratings  ·  47 reviews
Child prodigies. Gifted and Talented Programs. Perfect 2400s on the SAT. Sometimes it feels like the world is conspiring to make the rest of us feel inadequate. Those children tapped as possessing special abilities will go on to achieve great things, while the rest of us have little chance of realizing our dreams. Right?

In Ungifted, cognitive psychologist Scott Barry Kaufm
Hardcover, 424 pages
Published June 4th 2013 by Basic Books (first published May 28th 2013)
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It's a big book with more than one subtitle: Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined: The Truth About Talent, Practice, Creativity, and the Many Paths to Greatness by Scott Barry Kaufman.

Kaufman tells a fascinating story about intelligence, weaving his own personal life story with both the history of the changing science and understanding of intelligence and the latest findings and speculations in the field. Kaufman was labeled learning disabled as a child, and b
This book has really redefined how I think about IQ. I loved all the history on how the IQ test was created and what other tests has added to the field. This is such a great holistic approach, without throwing out the baby with the bathwater. This book really focuses on how all the boxes we use to label and sort children can be a detriment. I could see all my kids in this book and my students. I love the focus looking at more then IQ. So much more is can be seen in tenacity, creativity and passi ...more
Kaufman's book is technical and sometimes too full of irrelevant research, but overall, he presents a fabulous case of why we work toward helping children find their own meaning in education and should avoid labeling (and separating) children at all costs.

He was labeled a special education student based on one IQ test and a slower work method...and it obviously affected his self-confidence as a young child. However, his book does a great job of detailing the history of the IQ test and how it has
Frank Spencer
I listened to the Audible book. Kaufman is an advocate for broadening the consideration of what is included in intelligence. Other factors which he wants to include are factors like motivation/passion, self-regulation, and openness to experience. Opportunities, support from mentors and positive feedback from the environment are stressed. His message is that we should focus on the strengths of students, and chart their progress, without comparison to other students. He writes about some education ...more
Hakan Jackson
This book is a fascinating scientific book wrapped up in a endearing autobiography. Unless you're a cognitive psychologist, the science in this book will challenge you and it's a challenge worth enduring. I already know that I'll read this book a couple more times to soak up all that I can.
I must admit that I did not finish this book, only got about 2/3 way through. It was so well researched that for the casual reader (me) it was a bit too dense. The author's personal story about how he overcame having been labeled "slow" in elementary school was inspiring but the in depth explanations of testing methods just weren't that interesting to me. That said, this is a colossal work, with the author obviously incredibly dedicated to bringing to light the gaps left by all kinds of intellig ...more
Ungifted points out the issues with standardized IQ testing, and really any other comparative testing done to gauge intelligence. The author starts each chapter with a personal story about his lifelong struggle to overcome being placed in remedial education, a struggle he does win by becoming a PhD. These were very interesting interludes - makes me wonder if he has enough to put together a biography. Each chapter is really a survey of research on different aspect of intelligence and intelligence ...more
Too often in education, I run into the mindset that "Special Education" is code for lower expectations. I loved that the author shared his own experience of being in Special Education and the impact it had on him throughout this densly packed book about what intelligence is, how we measure it, and how that has historically played out in education.
David Sebek
As a teacher of students identified as gifted my enjoyment and appreciation of a book title "Ungifted" may seem ironic.

The children I teach are generally highly successful at playing the game of school. But some are not, including my own children. My oldest was very successful in public education until his sophomore year in high school when boredom and disinterest drove him to ignore his studies. He eventually, begrudgingly, rejoined the education game and is doing very well in college.

My young
This book is like taking a class on intelligence. The author recently completed his PHD and gives an extensive lit review of the topic as only a recent doctoral student can, the book was useful just for that fact. After reading this book I feel like I am very up to date on where the field of psychology stands regarding intelligence.

Lit review aside his final chapter reaches a profound point, that intelligence is far broader than an iq score or a gpa. It even goes beyond our career and social su
Pete Welter
This book has a style that combines memoir with an extended academic paper. Each chapter starts with stories from Kaufman's remarkable path from special education to Yale researcher, and it adds a weight to his arguments as well as being a poignant story on it's own.

I read the book from front-to-back, and I must admit that at times the number of papers, studies and researchers cited was eye-crossing for me, and I found myself getting lost in the details. That said, if you have any questions abou
Lacy Compton
Kaufman delivers a very in-depth overview of the field of intelligence, with focus on the idea of how intelligence is defined in different fields (mainly psychology and education). Although several chapters held my interest, quite a few go so far into the research base that it's easy to get a bit stifled by the sheer amount material and researchers cited (in those cases, I just skimmed ahead until I found something else I was captivated by). For example, I loved getting his take on mindsets and ...more
The introduction and first chapters of the book set up an interesting value proposition: that human intellectual ability is a multidimensional phenomenon and there are better ways to measure them than standard IQ tests. Everyone who's interested in HRM or, say, education can readily appreciate the value of new means to better assess and amplify the abilities of pupils and (prospective) colleagues.

Naturally, such a book would start with critique towards established ability measurement systems. A
Dona Matthews
In Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined, Scott Barry Kaufman shares important findings on the nature and development of intelligence, creativity, and talent. He illustrates his understandings with a compelling personal narrative. This is an accessible, inspiring, and beautifully-written book that should be well-thumbed and on the bookshelves of every teacher, parent, psychologist, and anyone else who might be interested in knowing more about these elusive processes.
I really like the big ideas in this book - that intelligence is more than IQ, more than performing well on standardized tests. The author's personal story, that he started out as a kid in special education and slowly worked his way to graduating with a PhD from Yale, is woven throughout the book and is compelling. About half way through, I felt bogged down by the large amounts of research and data.
Laurel Overstreet
Ungifted is one of the best books on the subject of intelligence I have ever read. Kaufman’s insights and descriptions of various aspects of intelligence, creativity, passion, and practice were fascinating as well as expertly explained. On the whole, the book was fairly involved, and may pose a challenge to anyone not well-versed in psychology. However, it was not so difficult as to be unreadable. (I suggest reading The Ravenous Brain beforehand, particularly where the sections on working memory ...more
This was a fascinating book about how IQ is measured, and about other factors that make up intelligence, but are harder to measure on an exam.
The sections on Asperger's were especially interesting to me. As the book states children with Asprger's functioned better when they are discussing or working on their Special Interest Areas (SIAs).
Timely effort in broadening the definition of gifts and intelligence. The book so eloquently and effectively covered some of the most debated topics in the field of Intelligence within Cognitive Psychology. Its nice to have a recap of ideas like Grit and Creativity. Not the most 'enjoyable' book but is empirically superior to many others
This is a meaty book on IQ, talent, skill and intelligence. Like other reviewers, I was enthralled by the author's personal story. I got a bit bogged down in the history of IQ and "q" and all. I think this should have been 2 books: one for experts and one for laypersons. It is worth a read but chew slowly.
Jim Johnson
This read like a revenge piece. The author comes off like a bratty little boy who didn't like that he wasn't given the "gifted" label. So what?
Thao Nguyen
Interesting book about the label "gifted" and the various types of intelligences and the history of IQ tests and how they came to be.
Stephanie Steinberg
A fascinating topic but sadly the delivery was very dry. Also, the author had a clear agenda to debunk IQ tests since he had not done well on them and yet succeeded nonetheless. While his determination was inspiring, his descriptions of studies and theories were not very compelling.
Guy Arcuri
Many, many great points! Sometimes people who struggle with learning differences are not to write.
Confession - I only read the first five chapters and the last chapter. I read for the Storytime Underground book club. I tried to skim the whole thing, but found it so interesting I couldn't skim! I might have to return to this one at some point. It gives a lot to think about. What is intelligence? Why do we test intelligence in children? How can we foster the best in every child and make sure they are motivated and challenged? Good stuff. I also really liked that the author interspersed his per ...more
Chris Wejr
I was hoping this book was more about embracing the talents in people. There were chapters that grabbed me and challenged me as an educator but a large portion was on IQ and other testing measurements. The book also includes a section on brain research. Had I started reading this book with the intent to learn more about testing and brain research, I would have likely enjoyed it more. If you are interested in intelligence testing, this is a book you may like. For me, I was hoping for more of what ...more
INteresting....I actually like the way he wove his personal story throughout the massive amount of information. This is almost a textbook.

I wish we would see books that would talk about engagement and creativity with a realistic view of what classroom teachers can do...especially secondary teachers who see 160+ students a day. I was hoping to find helpful tips, but nothing I can implement that I haven't already learned in other places. It just makes me reinforce my belief that everyone can learn
This book took me back to my days as an education student; I felt that I was accessing old dusty files but refreshing them with new and sometimes exciting information. Sometimes the chapters got a little heavy on scholarly data but I was so interested in the author's personal story that I kept racing to the end of the chapter so that I read the next personal vignette at the beginning of the next one. I found that his personal story, juxtaposed against the research and academic papers about intel ...more
There are many paths to greatness. Author Scott Kaufman puts the research behind what I already knew, superior test takers do well in traditional schools but so do the poor test takers with the perseverance to do what they love and become GREAT! To many students that score poorly on tests have low self esteem. More programs in building self-esteem in public schools will empower the bullied, the underdogs the nerds and the greatness will prevail.
Afreen Khalid
I cannot praise this book enough. Kaufman does a wonderful job of dispelling the terribly myopic view of intelligence and standardized testing that people usually have. I would recommend this to anyone who is curious about what intelligence is, how it is measured and why we need to expand our current conception of it.
Malcolm Gladwell-esque. A good read for those who doubt their creative/intellectual aptitudes. Not something for beach goers, though.
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Scott Barry Kaufman is Scientific Director of The Imagination Institute in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Kaufman investigates the measurement and development of intelligence, creativity, and personality (see scientific papers). He is author of Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined and a forthcoming book on the science of creativity, co-authored with Carolyn Gregoire ...more
More about Scott Barry Kaufman...
The Psychology of Creative Writing The Complexity of Greatness: Beyond Talent or Practice Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind Beyond general intelligence The Cambridge Handbook of Intelligence

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“While standardized tests can certainly be useful for scientifically investigating the mind and brain, and can greatly inform educational interventions, there’s no reason why educators or anyone else for that matter needs to compare the intelligence of one person to another based on a single dimension of human variation.” 1 likes
“most widespread gains in brain training come from programs that simultaneously address multiple aspects of a person, such as traditional martial arts training and enriched school curricula.” 1 likes
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