Difficulty in solving mathematical tasks

There are a great number of students who have serious difficulties in learning mathematics, but find the rest of academic subjects easy. These students have normal to high IQs, are excellent readers, creative writers and learn quickly. They are frustrated by a paradoxical condition. Superior performance is easily demonstrated in thinking, verbal, reading and writing skills, and in every subject where these skills are the predominant modes of learning and assessment.

But when it comes to any subject that requires understanding and application of the language of mathematics, they fail miserably, to everyone’s surprise. These students may become ill, disruptive, easily frustrated, and may use their creative abilities to avoid tasks  involving mathematics (Baum 1990, 2).

Most gifted children teach themselves to read before they are 6, some even reading between the ages of 2 and 4. Gallagher contends that once basic reading skill is attained, the child is able to advance his intellectual breadth of knowledge on his own. He will usually excel in verbally dominated areas like social studies, English, and science (Baskin and Harris 1980, 38).

Mathematics presents a different case because basic skills are dependent upon rigid sequential mastery. It is difficult to advance independently in arithmetic because much guidance is required, whereas skills in logical math reasoning allow for autonomous progress (Baskin and Harris 1980, 38). Learning disabilities in gifted children are frequently not discovered until adulthood (Baum 1990, 2).

Silverman contends that this discrepancy between reading and mathematical ability is due to advanced visual-spatial ability with underdeveloped sequencing skills. This results in difficulty learning math and foreign languages the way they are typically taught (Delisle and Berger 1990, 3). Many gifted students never achieve their potential because they have never worked at complex tasks and are unprepared for challenging subjects (Winebrenner and Berger 1994, 1).

During the MES Assessment we check for sequencing skills and basic mathematic skills. If these are low, we design a program to  increase missing basic learning skills.