Brothers keen to help Mensa celebrate 75th anniversary

Mensa International is looking to identify potential worldwide and nurture the next generation of trailblazers, as it marks its 75th anniversary.

Philip, Richard and David Graves with one of the users' guides to computers they wrote in the 1980s.
Philip, Richard and David Graves with one of the users' guides to computers they wrote in the 1980s.

And a Shropshire firm, set up by brothers who had their IQ tested at the request of their teachers, has developed a website to help the campaign.

The largest and oldest high IQ society in the world has set up programmes in many countries to support gifted children who may otherwise be overlooked.

Executive director Michael Feenan said: “We believe it’s important to maximise potential and identify future innovators – to the benefit of both the individual and society.”

And online marketing firm GWS Media, whose founder comes from Oswestry, has developed their website to support around 145,000 members worldwide.

Creative director David Graves and his younger brother, Philip, both attended Whittington Primary School, where they had their IQ tested at a teacher's request

Philip Graves, GWS Media copywriter, SEO analyst and digital marketer, had struggled to fit in – and by the age of seven it was discovered he had an IQ of 150.

The published author, who speaks French and Swedish fluently, said: "High intelligence is an asset if channelled productively but can make it harder for children to fit into both school and society. Anything out of the ordinary can be a source of criticism and exclusion.

"I support Mensa and the efforts it makes to provide a lifeline for the particular needs of those who are at once gifted and, in a real sense, burdened with high IQ."

The brothers, who grew up in Boot Street, Whittington, achieved similarly highly in the test and changes were made to meet their learning needs.

“I think I had become a source of serious concern for my teacher. My poor attention span was first interpreted as a lack of understanding – rather than restlessness," Philip said.

“But I was then given separate books to read and more advanced sums to do, which kept me stimulated. If the school had not intervened, then I think I might have underachieved.”

They moved to Telford in 1987 and David, achieved all A grades in his GCSEs and A-levels before studying history at the University of Cambridge.

Philip, who later attended Bellan House School in Oswestry, and Shrewsbury Sixth Form College, believes it is important to foster students’ strengths.

“At Bellan, I was taught French from the age of seven. I went on to learn Latin from the age of nine and German from the age of 13, and later took a degree in French.

“Like most students, I was weaker in some subjects too, and particularly dreaded assessed practicals in chemistry and biology.

“It’s important to respect different ways of thinking and individuality – rather than trying to fit everyone into the same mould.”

Mr Feenan, a former member of the RAF who worked as a defence attaché in Russia, said: “We have programmes in place for children who would otherwise be overlooked by the system and unable to develop their ability.

“There’s a difference between someone having bright thoughts and having the opportunity to put them into action.

“The site has been a vital tool for getting our message out there and making people aware of initiatives and resources for children that they may not have known about.”

“This is not about thinking people with a high IQ are special or deserving of more attention – it’s just that they need a different kind of attention.

“It’s not true to say that bright children will succeed simply because they are bright. They will face other challenges, needing to be nurtured and encouraged in a different way.

“While our focus is on intellect, there are many forms of giftedness. It is important children have the opportunity to develop their potential - be it sporting, academic or in other areas.”

Mensa has various programmes in place, including Tribal Mensa Nurturing Program – supporting underprivileged gifted children among tribal populations in India.

There are foundations around the world, including the Mensa Foundation - offering support in the form of scholarships, gifted youth and educational outreach, awards and research.

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