Personal Stories–Small N Examples

Quantitative researchers will refer to small examples as annecdotal evidence, which often won’t hold up in quantitative research. In Qualitative research, which focuses on depth, individual experience, does not dismiss small N examples and see them as starting points for research, or look at them for deeper kinds of information than normally is tracked in Quantitative research. One might see from a Qualitative a possible pilot study that might explore an exception to the rull than may influence other research.

Research is pointing to more environmental influences, particularly shared environment variables which could argue against theories that substantial influences on intelligence are genetic. In my own family and my partner’s large extended family I see examples that show cases that break the rule.

My Family

My parents were gifted (both deceased), and all of my siblings. My mother was very accomplished and received an Ed.D in the ’70s in education. Her interest was in disabilities. She served on the State Board of Education. She devoured books. My father was an actor, writer, newspaper publisher and politician in New Hampshire politics involved in rather esoteric theories about land value taxation. My grandfather a sailor, detective working in early fingerprinting and photography, when these tools were very new in criminology. My mother however had problems with alcohol and never healed wounds from her childhood and didn’t know what to do with gifted children.

The picture at left is me at age 1, already very precocious. We lived in a very unstimulating factory town. If it were our school or neighbors, I can’t see how it would have influenced us. In many ways our parents were very limited and I think we became who we are in spite of them. they were challenging and I am sure this had an influence. I have to think genetics was the source of our intelligence. My brother’s children are gifted. His first son, devoured books when a small child. He has had to deal with Asberger’s, though a “chip off the old block,” interested in studying biochemical engineering. He is entering his first year of college.

My Partner’s Family

My partner was Mexican-American born in East-L.A. the youngest of ten. Though his father had only a seventh grade education, he read Shakespeare. The children were very accomplished.  My partner is a playwright and supporter of animal causes, and a real fascination with classic literature. The real story surfaces in his oldest sister’s children and their children. His sister who is disabled had two daughters J and L, both intelligent and have spent most of their time with their children, though I am sure they could do much more. Jennifer’s first son with a different man, than the rest is in the GATE Gifted programs in his local school. He is in advanced classes, and now has to chose a college. He hopes to be an anesthesiologist. The next two children of J are very average, and came from a different father. Later another child was born. From when she was an infant, it was clear she is gifted, seeing her at one and one-half, she seems like three. She has had a tremendous curiosity, taking apart everything in the house. Their father is unemployed and has substance issues. If there isn’t a genetic factor going on, it is hard to say how she surfaced, her oldest brother is also gifted. Her cousin, L’s daughter has the most infectious laugh and smile, she is very  bright and it is clear she is very smart.

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