Heidi Hankins isn't your average four year old. Already dubbed a genius, she has been accepted to the British contingent of high-IQ club Mensa after her nursery school recommended that she sit an IQ test. No one could have anticipated the results.
To put her braininess in context: an average adult scores around 100, while that of a “gifted” individual would weigh in at the 130 mark. Heidi scored a staggering 159—that's one point shy of Big Bang scientist Stephen Hawking, the Einstein of our time.
When she was just two, Heidi was reading books intended for seven year olds. Now she is able to add, subtract, draw figures and write in full sentences.
Heidi’s parents hope their daughter, who displays no behavioural or developmental challenges, can skip a grade once she starts school. A single grade? That sounds modest for a girl who, at two, read through the Oxford Reading Tree (set of 30) books in about an hour.
“She was making noises and trying to talk literally since she was born and by age one her vocabulary was quite good," said her proud father. “The other day I gave her... something quite boring [for dinner] and her response was ‘that’s impressive’ so she has a sense of humour, too.”
In some respects Heidi is like any other girl her age. She reportedly "likes her Barbies and Lego," but her intellect is rare.
Do parents like Heidi's have a social obligation to propel tremendously gifted children through the education system and onto bigger, better things? Or do such programs do children a disservice by forcing them to grow up too fast?