‘I’m a normal, happy kid’: gifted 9-year-old writes about life at college
Kairan Quazi: ‘I process information easily. I don’t study much at all’
“I was a 3-year-old preschooler when I corrected my teacher’s knowledge of the constitutional requirements to be US president.”
This is how Kairan Quazi opens his Huffpost article about academic life. The nine-year-old’s IQ is above the 99.9th percentile and his emotional intelligence is also high, making him “profoundly gifted”. He is co-enrolled at Helios, a gifted elementary school, and Las Positas college in California.
Kairan describes himself as “any other normal, happy kid” and not a “weird bookworm with no social skills”.
“I collect Pokémon cards and know all the dance moves in Fortnite. I have a lot of friends, and we make naughty jokes and play basketball and games.”
Described as an “asynchronous” learner who learns at an accelarated pace and out of sequence, (he learned algebra concepts before being taught), the Californian says he struggles in some areas.
I read all eight books in the eight weeks of summer break after first grade
“There are other areas where my brain is still catching up, like handwriting, spelling and taking notes. I am using spellcheck a lot for this essay. Also, I am just okay on piano, and I don’t learn foreign languages easily. I am trying to challenge myself by learning Bengali from my family and Mandarin from my very patient tutor Ms. Vienna.
But the young boffin finds computer languages very easy, learning Python programming at just seven-years-old. “Today I am among the academy’s most advanced Python students, and I used my Python background to teach myself more than a dozen coding languages and interfaces. I am also taking an open-source masterclass on machine learning.
Kairan is obsessed with books but is a much more prolific reader than most nine-year-olds. “A good book makes me forget to finish my meals and get ready on time for school. This causes my parents to yell a lot. Wait, isn’t reading supposed to be a good thing? A few of my favorite books from 2018 were: Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, George Orwell’s 1984 and the Game of Thrones series. I tried reading Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, but the writing was dry and boring.”
He also likes reading books that his friends enjoy like Captain Underpants, The Percy Jackson series and Diary of a Wimpy Kid and the Harry Potter series. “I read all eight books in the eight weeks of summer break after first grade.”
He also writes about his passion for politics. “More than anything else, I am famous in our social circle for being a political junkie. I have watched every presidential debate since I was three-years-old, starting with Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.”
His school work is designed for students like him. “Even though I am new to the school this year, I finally feel that I have teachers and friends who understand me and don’t try to change me. We sit on rocking chairs to help with our fidgetiness, and we can even go for a quick run or do jumping jacks during class if that helps us think better. The best part is that I have not been sent to the principal’s office even once this semester.”
I feel that my professors and classmates respect my abilities
After school, Quasi goes to Las Positas College where he is studying for associate degrees in chemistry and maths. “I had to go through interviews and assessments to prove to the administration that I had both the scholastic aptitude and the executive functions to attend college. Now the administration and professors treat me like any other student. I follow the same rules, and the classes cannot be modified for me.”
Making friends in college was easy because he’s an extrovert. “Whenever I start a new class, other students give me curious looks, and I can see some people secretly taking photos and videos of me. I hear them whispering, “he’s so cute!” or “he’s so smart!” but I try to break the ice by introducing myself so they can see that it’s okay to talk to me and be my friend. I also send my professors an email before the first day of class so that they are not confused when I walk in.”
His parents feared he would find the work overwhelming and forced him to enroll in “baby math” or algebra 1 so he could develop soft skills. But Kairan wasn’t impressed. “It was so boring that I spent a lot of time playing video games during class. Then I convinced my parents to let me take an assessment test so that I could take harder classes. My college assessment test showed that I was ready for calculus – that’s four levels above baby math. I think my parents are starting to believe that I actually do know what I’m doing.”
“So far, the content of the college classes has not really been a challenge since I process information easily. I don’t study much at all. I feel that my professors and classmates respect my abilities.”
Kairan does admit that because of his asynchronous development he struggles with other things like time-management and note-taking. “My parents help me by typing out study notes from my textbooks, even though they might not understand the content.”
The nine-year-old’s biggest challenge is staying focused. “At any time, I could be thinking about anything from the Yemen famine to how do get out of piano practice that day.”