Gifted Kids Turn Out “Just Fine”

This is a guest post from one of my incredible readers, Erin.  Erin posted a comment on one of my posts–this poignant story of her giftedness, and her experience in traditional school as a misunderstood, overlooked and unidentified gifted child. 

 

Recently, in order to determine what she may need educationally, my husband and I had our oldest daughter privately evaluated and found out she is gifted. I started to research and read everything I could get my hands on about giftedness, what it means, and what it doesn’t mean. In doing so, I started to ponder my own childhood. Apparently, most gifted children’s parents are also gifted, and upon finding out about their children, also embark upon a journey of self-discovery. I have cried many times while reading about the emotional side of being gifted: the “differentness” people feel, the various overexcitabilities many of them deal with, and how they experience the world in a very intense way. I have cried reading these things because I *get* it. It’s like I understand myself now, and through this process, many painful memories from my own education have flooded my head.

When I was in first grade, my teacher changed our seat assignments every so often. Every time, I was placed at a desk in the back of the classroom. I was excited about school and wanted to be closer to the front of the class. One day, about halfway through the school year, after being placed in the back yet again, I asked my teacher if I could be moved to the front. I was told I was in the back because I ‘always did so well,’ and that she ‘didn’t have to worry about me like some of the other kids.’ She reluctantly moved me to a front spot, and made a big deal about it in front of the class. I felt singled-out and embarrassed.

I learned that my needs didn’t matter as much as the needs of other kids, to not ask for learning accommodations, and that it was better to keep my head down and not be a “bad kid.”

When I was in second grade, after learning a bit about Johnny Appleseed, our assignment was to write our own books about his life. I worked hard, wrote a great summary, and drew lots of pictures. I was so proud of my book. After turning it in, my teacher called me up to her desk at the front of the classroom. She told me that since I had obviously plagiarized my book, I failed the assignment. I stood there, shocked, my head buzzed and my face got hot, and started to cry. I knew deep in my soul I would never do such a thing, nor had it even occurred to my 8 year old self to do something like that. I was heartbroken, and mortified. Later, my mom had to advocate for me, and the teacher finally relented and gave me a fair grade.

I learned not to work to my best ability, or risk shame, and that teachers didn’t trust or like me very much.

Then, I moved to a new school (one of the 6 times I changed schools as a child). When I was in second grade at my new school, we had a game where the kids in the class guessed what one student put in the jar. It was my turn and I had a tongue depressor in my jar. I had to answer “yes” or “no” questions. A classmate guessed a “popsicle stick,” and I answered, “no.” The teacher laughed at me and said, “yes, of course it is” and the game was over. I was embarrassed.

I learned I shouldn’t pay too much attention to “silly” details, and I was weird for caring about them.

When I was in fourth grade, our teacher asked the class, “where is spaghetti from?” Feeling clever, and knowing the REAL “secret” answer (or at least one interesting theory on the matter), my hand shot up first. I was called on and my answer was, “China!” My teacher laughed at me, told me that was a dumb answer, and asked someone else. The correct answer was Italy. Except, it wasn’t. I knew there was a theory that Marco Polo had brought spaghetti from China to Italy. (And even if it is only a theory, there are other theories, and the Italians surely weren’t the first to make pasta. There was room for discussion there.) My face got hot again, my stomach hurt, I wanted to be invisible, and I excused myself to the bathroom and cried and cried. I felt so stupid and so full of shame. Everyone had laughed at me, including my teacher. My mom noticed my crestfallen face at the end of the day, and asked me why. When I told her what had happened that morning in class, she marched right down to the school and gave the teacher an earful. I never got an apology, but the teacher mumbled a correction the next morning.

I learned never to raise my hand in class, never to question, and that if I wanted my teacher to like me, she was always right.

At Summer camp, we got to select a main focus for our week-long stay. I chose sailing. The first day, I made friends with the other sailing girls in my cabin. We went out to our first class on the boat, and the instructor asked us things about sailing: which side of the boat was the starboard side and which was the port side, if we knew what a catamaran was, etc. I answered nearly every question first, and correctly. My new friends shunned me. When I asked why, they enjoyed ignoring me for a while, finding it funny they could so easily upset me. Then, I was told I was a “know-it-all” and they didn’t like me. I was crushed.

I learned I had to dumb myself down to fit in with my peers. I also learned to pretend people couldn’t get to me, even if I was destroyed on the inside.

When I was in high school, I was given an assignment in English class and told I could be creative with it. I relished this assignment and came up with a brilliant idea to do a collage that followed all of the assignment’s rules, in a creative way. I received a failing grade on the project. I was heartbroken and confused. The teacher told me it wasn’t along the lines of what she thought I should have done, and refused to let me explain myself. I had to take her to the vice principal of the school over it, and prove I followed the rules, justify my process for the project and how much thought went into it, and was begrudgingly given a better grade.

I learned I should never think outside of the box.

In college, in my first semester of freshman year, I was given my first writing assignment in the class every freshman had to take: Writing 50. I quickly churned something out, as easily as every paper I’d ever written. I got a C. I was floored. I had rarely ever gotten below an A on a paper. I also nearly failed my Biology class that year. I had developed zero study skills because I never had to study much before, and I wasn’t used to failing.

I learned I must not be very smart after all.

In my adult life, I’ve had many problems with employers. I have felt burned out, bored, and have been mistreated by bosses who make sexual jokes and have me run personal errands. I dared ask a tough question once, and had a boss call me “combative.” The only way I survived, was just how I did in school: keep my head down. I’ve had to dull my natural emotional response, and try to “be OK” with dishonesty and injustices. I HATE dishonesty, and those who blatantly disregard, or feel they are above, rules. I can’t even play a board game with someone who doesn’t follow the rules.

I learned I’m not very fun, too sensitive, difficult to work with, and can’t take a joke.

Now, I’m the mom of a gifted child (probably 2 gifted children, but the youngest is still a baby). If someone asks me how I taught my oldest daughter all of the letters of the alphabet by 18 months old, and I answer truthfully that I didn’t, I’m given funny looks and talked about behind my back. To those who don’t understand what it is to be gifted, I’m the hothousing mom, who must have “created” this kid with flashcards, and forced her to read by 2 years old (ever tried forcing a 2 year old to do anything she doesn’t want to do?).

I’ve learned if I ever talk about my child, I’m a liar, or a braggart.

These examples may seem like small things, but to me, a deeply-sensitive person, they were everything. Through all of this, one message has remained in my head: “STAY SILENT. You’re not likable unless you pretend you’re different than you are. Never let them see you sweat or cry, because they’ll use it against you to knock you down a peg. Don’t speak up. Pretend you don’t know the answers, you’re not really THAT smart, impostor. Laugh with them as they “lovingly” call you a dumb-blonde, because having no friends hurts more. Don’t be a know-it-all, don’t be too good at too many things, and never ever ever talk about your gifted kid, if you want to have mom-friends.”

Anyone in my life, that you ask about me, would say I did just fine in (mostly) public school without being in any gifted programs. I was social, on the dance team, had friends, got good grades. I have made a happy life for myself: I have a sweet family of my own, I started, ran and recently sold a successful business, and I do have real friends who love me as I am, so yes, it all worked out in the long run.

But, did I do just fine? I felt so deeply insecure, timid, and not very smart. I internalized all of the above “lessons,” reinforced every year of school, and had a crippling fear of speaking up in class by the time I got to high school. I second-guessed myself always. While I had a few wonderful teachers along the way, for the most part, they never liked the real me much, so I became someone they did like: the girl who kept her head down and got mostly As. I became known as the “quiet girl” in school, which is laughable to my family, as I generally speak my mind with zeal. My IQ is in the top 2%, and yet I thought I wasn’t very smart, that I was a bit odd, and I worked hard to conceal both of those things. I went from being excited, to being apathetic about school, until college. I thank God I got to go to a college that challenged me and encouraged me. I broke out of my shell. I realized I *was* smart and I had to work for it. I LOVED it, and would be a college student forever, if I could.

I don’t think school should teach a person to become smaller and smaller, and more withdrawn, until she forgets she loves to learn, and she forgets who she is. Gifted education matters. Being understood matters. Even if I had been in a gifted program, and still ended up right where I am today, it would have given me the understanding that I’m not weird, and my thoughts and feelings do matter. I would have known I *am* smart.

It would have mattered to me.

43 Comments on “Gifted Kids Turn Out “Just Fine”

  1. Pingback: Gifted Kids Do NOT all turn out “just fine” | Gifts for Learning

  2. Hey Celi. I’ve been reading your blog lately and I love it! I now know that I’m borderline gifted and it explained a lot. Now I know why school comes so easily to me. I’ve always been ahead of everyone else and after years and years of that, an the boredom, depression and stress that goes with it, I’m in grade 9 with no idea how to study because I’ve never ever had to, learning has, if anything gotten harder (learning used to be extremely easy for me an I haven’t really had to for a while) I go to a public school and the only main reason I’m staying is because of the chem an physics labs! I’m extremely bored and I know that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel-university-but its just so hard to concentrate on subjects I have any interest in.

    I can relate to about everything you’re saying even though I’m a straight A student, I’ve only ever once gotten a D on a test and I felt sick. I completely agree with what you say about public school being destructive for gifted people. I have been constantly stressed since grade 4, I’ve corrected my teachers on many occasions, within minutes of having our science textbook I found 20 mistakes! My current math teacher is horrible, no one is benefiting, I’m bored, a few of my classmates are always done early and then the rest either don’t understand or are learning basic arithmetic in grade 9. It’s crazy! Our physics course is only offered every two years, so I will be taking physics 20 and 30 in grade 11 possibly without math 20 when I do physics 20, but I will be doing physics 30 without math 30.

    My school system doesn’t offer both of our national languages, just one. And by not teaching the other one they are dooming me because I won’t be able to get into the universities of my choice. One last thing, I’m the only one at my school who feels this way about the curriculum (to my knowledge) and our school is only about 200 kids so I believe it, so how do you ask for a program for only one person. Any tips would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

    I’m sorry that this was so long and scattered but I would love to hear your thoughts!

    • Hi Emily,

      Being bored while school comes easily is a pretty common complaint from gifted kids, and you deserve to have a challenging education. It is so great that you recognize that breezing through your education with little effort is not necessarily a good thing. Without a challenging education, kids do not learn how to put in reasonable effort to do well in school. Let your parents know that you believe you may be gifted and ask for their help with your concerns. Also, is there a teacher or counselor at the school who you trust to go to with your concerns? I would talk to your parents and then to someone at your school. All of you can work together to sort through your concerns, determine if you are gifted and begin to find ways to meet your educational needs.

      With about 2% of the population considered to be gifted, in your school of 200, there would be approximately 4 gifted students–a pretty small number, so gifted students can be overlooked. However, you do have options. Learning to advocate for yourself is important–don’t hesitate to speak up and say what you are thinking and what you feel you need. Along with your parents, try to work with your school to see if they can provide what you feel you need, and the school may provide the testing needed to identify you as a gifted learner.

      Also, there are many online options you can participate in yourself to enrich your education. Many are free and some your school can allow you to get credit for. Here is a link to an article that talks about this: “For Frustrated Gifted Kids, A World of Online Opportunities.” Or maybe your school would allow you to do an independent project for credit.

      Read all that you can, learn as much as you can about giftedness and speak with your parents and school. Hopefully, all of you can work together to meet your educational needs!

      Lastly, here is an article with essential links for gifted learners: “48 Essential Links for Parents of Gifted Children.”

      Good luck, Emily!

  3. In this new social media age, we can find a solution for our children and for adults who are gifted. We can join online groups to speak to like minded people. We can organise to meet some of these people in person. We can set up help and advocacy groups to make a change for all our futures. We can find online resources. We can bring about change in mainstream media from online media. We can educate ordinary everyday people about giftedness. Remember the 68% of the population are of average intelligence. We need to get clever and use the resources available to us to help ourselves. I feel very afraid for my children when I read the above posts but i’m more determined than ever to do more for them, they are better than ‘he’s grand’ or ‘he’s doing fine’. We need to work this like a campaign and do for ourselves what no one else is going to do for us. Why am I the only person here thinking like this? Am I the only one? What do ye think?

    • Midi,

      No, you are not the only one–there are many, many of us–it is just a bigger, uphill battle than one would think. I was warned about my desire to change the world of education for gifted children that it would take moving a mountain to make things right for gifted children and I didn’t listen. I was determined to make a difference, and the battle really is as big and nearly-insurmountable as I was warned about. Yet, many of us don’t quit. We just need more of us…many, many more of us.

      We need to share information, tweet to our legislators, email our school boards, organize support groups. Getting the information out via social media is easy enough, but changing the beliefs in the gifted stereotype and in the myths in the minds of society is the most difficult part. We all know and have experienced society’s resentment and envy towards gifted people who believe gifted individuals already are blessed with enough, why should we give them more–“gifted kids turn out just fine”, right? Also, even within the gifted advocacy community there is a divide–those who advocate for all gifted children and adults regardless of where they are receiving their education and those who advocate for gifted students and gifted education within our school systems. There is also disagreement on where the gifted advocacy should be focused–should we all advocate for more funding for gifted education programs by focusing our efforts on contacting legislators? advocate for society’s understanding of giftedness in general? work towards changing educators misinformed ideas about gifted students and their education? These are all good places to start.

      Midi, you are right, we need to work this like a campaign, yet this campaign has been going on for decades. We just need more parents and educators to step up and brave the inevitable resentment towards gifted people and say, “gifted kids DON’T turn out just fine!”

      I believe we can move this mountain and I am open to ideas on how I can improve my advocacy efforts!

      Thanks, Midi, for sharing your thoughts here, and I look forward to seeing you in the gifted advocacy community raising your voice!

  4. Pingback: Lección Aprendida | Aa.Cc, La rebelión del Talento.

  5. Thank you Erin for telling your story. I have experienced a similar self discovery as I walk my own daughters through their education. The more I learn, the more emboldened I become as an advocate. As I have begun to speak out, my incredibly talented artistic mother has begun her own discovery as she realizes she too is gifted, not “weird”. I think our stories are an important step toward much needed cultural and educational change. We desparately need our young gifted students to use their brilliant minds freely. We need to be OK with this as a culture. If nothing else simply because Gifted Persons matter too.

  6. Pingback: What You Didn’t Know About Gifted Children | Crushing Tall Poppies

  7. Thanks so much for sharing your story! I had and have similar experience as you unfortunately :/ I was fortunate though and forever grateful that I had my teachers advocate for me until grammar school; coming from a lower class system did not help me thrive nor did I have my parent’s advocacy at that time since placing food on the table became a priority. When I got to high school, everything became a night mare. Skipping a grade made it harder for me to make friends. Then the low-self esteem kicked in. I started under-achieving just so I can fit in with everyone else. Needless to say, the lessons I learned gave me a back-bone to advocate for my child. She is now 4 years old, and I’m terrified of putting her to school because of the negative experiences I had to go through back then. But, we are both in it together even if it means staying up late every night tweaking her preschool curriculum and looking for extra-curricular activities to help her advance. Again, thanks so much for voicing out the traumatic experiences of being gifted and that it should not be left unheard to help this gifted generation un-scarred!

    • Rose, your daughter is SO lucky to have you. You got this!

      And thanks for your kind words and sharing a bit of your life experience as a gifted child. Please keep in touch and let us know how your daughter is doing!

  8. I have two gifted children, and I want so badly for their experience of the world to be different from mine. I relate to the author of this article, except I am not “just fine.” I had similar experiences to the author, but college didn’t help. And I have a law degree, but no confidence in myself to use it.

    I don’t think I realized until just now the “wrongness” of my head space. And, FWIW,I had a “gifted” pull out class, and that teacher was the worst of the bunch.

    • My heart goes out to you. There is just so much that most educators don’t understand about giftedness, and the most destructive and tragic myth–gifted kids with be just fine– is the most damaging. Even your gifted pull-out teacher likely didn’t really understand the social and emotional intensities of gifted children. Advocacy is needed, loud, clear and consistently.

      Thanks for sharing your experience as a gifted child!

  9. Thank you so much for this! It is a great reminder of why we took my DD out of traditional school and began homeschooling. It is also a wake up call as I don’t feel that I have provided her with the challenges she needs and wants. As she nears 12 y.o., a lot of things have become more difficult with her. Just growing up! It has also brought back memories of my transition from a great, challenging private school to public school in middle school. I tried to hide my good grades, was often asked to let people cheat off my tests, and generally learned to fly under the radar. When complimented, I felt like I was cheating because the work wasn’t really that difficult. These are all things I don’t want my daughter to have to deal with.

    • Erin’s post hit home for many, many readers. I am so happy she agreed to share her story, which now seems to be the same story for so many “former” gifted children.

      Donna, your daughter is so lucky to have you! Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  10. “Through all of this, one message has remained in my head: “STAY SILENT. You’re not likable unless you pretend you’re different than you are. Never let them see you sweat or cry, because they’ll use it against you to knock you down a peg. Don’t speak up. Pretend you don’t know the answers, you’re not really THAT smart, impostor. Laugh with them as they “lovingly” call you a dumb-blonde, because having no friends hurts more. Don’t be a know-it-all, don’t be too good at too many things, and never ever ever talk about your gifted kid, if you want to have mom-friends.”

    This is why I will never again be silenced, never again pretend to be something I’m not or not to be something I am. I may have lost some of the brain capacity I used to have prior to my illness, but thinking like a gifted person is still very much who and how I am, and I will never, ever fit in with the majority, be understood by them, or understand how they think (so little).

    • “This is why I will never again be silenced, never again pretend to be something I’m not or not to be something I am.”<--Good for you, Eirin! No one, not ever, should feel like they have to pretend they are something other than who they truly are. Thanks for sharing your commitment to being yourself! <3

  11. Hi to the author of the story.. very moving.. can relate to this.. thank you for sharing

  12. This really struck a chord with me. I had some very negative experiences with a couple of teachers in the time I was in public school. Luckily my mom homeschooled me for a large portion of my education, because she understood what it was like to be different as well. Like you said.. it tends to run in families. I also have two children (ages almost four (1/23/11) and 20 months (5/23/13). Feel free to contact me if you would like to talk!

    • Brandi, so sorry about your experiences <3, but you have a wonderful mom, for sure. Erin's story is really touching so many people; I'm so glad she shared it with all of us. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here, Brandi!

  13. Add me to the chorus. From being kept in at recess making 3s over and over in grade 1 (I should have known better than to make them backward), being degraded for talking too much in grades K-5, having people pretend to be my friend so they could hurt me more, having my fifth grade teacher assign a story to be written about how we knew there was no Santa Claus, and when one of my classmates asked “what if we still believe?” her replying “then you must be pretty stupid” and THAT being used against me (I wanted to believe. I really, truly, wholeheartedly wanted to believe that there was at least one person out there who was nice to everyone they’d ever met, just because they could be)… Moving into junior high where my teachers and classmates alike mocked me openly, convincing me I was ugly, high school, where I was put into remedial classes because I don’t care for making formal speeches, and informed it was my job to “take out” the highest scoring kid in BIO so we couldn’t “ruin the curve” for everyone else, and a prof or two in university who *after asking for feedback on their classes* deliberately implied that the reason I didn’t like their choices of source material (I dislike Kant in the extreme – same with Hemmingway) was because I was too stupid to understand it. It wasn’t until I left school, dealt with a string of bosses who treated me like I was an idiot (seriously, asking a basic question at a conference made my boss comment that it was an “incredibly astute observation for you.” as if I were incapable of actually having a brain in my head), left it all behind and started raising my own child that I figured out how many things I would love to do. Would love to learn. Would love to jump into, try my hand at, get involved in… And now it’s probably too late for me – there isn’t enough time left to get the degrees I want, though there might not have been twenty years ago either. But, I’m going to do the best I can, and I’m going to make damned sure that my son – who is me all over again – doesn’t face these things. That he’s met where he is, he gets his needs met, his teachers won’t laugh at him, his classmates won’t tear him down. That is my job now, and with any amount of luck, he’ll have all the opportunities I didn’t realize I could have had. What he chooses to do with them… well, that’s all up to him. But at least he’ll know he has those opportunities, and he won’t go through life thinking he’s ugly, stupid, and generally worthless.

    So yes. I went to public school. I graduated elementary, junior high, high school, community college and university. I *should* be just fine. And yet, I’m not. I’m not even a fraction of who I could have been, and sometimes I wonder who that woman might have been – and while I wouldn’t change my past, lest it change my now, you can be sure I won’t let Mad Natter fall between those cracks, get lost down the rabbit hole of “just fine.”

    • Care, I’m so sorry. My <3 goes out to you. You are right, not every gifted child who is ignored, shunned, humiliated and made to feel stupid will be okay. Thanks for adding to this chorus, but my heart is hurting today, for all of these former gifted children who deserved so much better. But Care, I just know you will be all you were meant to be, and you are the best mom Mad Natter could ever have. And you are helping so many with your awesome blog, Homeschooling Hatters!Thank you for sharing your story!

    • ” I’m not even a fraction of who I could have been, and sometimes I wonder who that woman might have been ” Oh my goodness, this speaks to my heart. It is like you reached into me and found my truth.

      • Erin’s post has touched a lot of hearts and so many have related so well to her story–which is sad in a way, that so many gifted children were overlooked.

        Thank you for your thoughtful words, Kelly!

  14. I recognize a lot of what Erin has experienced. And because the same type of education is used globally, I can relate even if I am from the Netherlands. I am thankful for this recognition (even if it’s a bit painful) because I feel like I’m finally not alone in these kind of experiences.

    • You are very right, Justin, you are not alone in this, but it is a sad and heartbreaking thing to have so many to experience this. Just look at all of the comments here on Erin’s post–all having the same negative experiences with education. Hopefully, knowing this, we can all work together to try to change the misperceptions and miseducation.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Justin!

  15. Your story gave me a sense of déjà vu – especially the school experiences. My Johnny Appleseed seed essay was one about Charles Dickens in Year 6. So many similar experiences even though I grew up in a different country under a different education system. The impact of those experiences has shaped much of my adult life. I fervently hope my gifted children don’t have similar stories to tell in coming years.

    • Erin’s story has indeed touched many people who shared similar experiences, and it is hard to fathom how much it can continue to affect a gifted individual into adulthood. Thank you so much, Sue, for sharing your experience and thoughts!

  16. Thank you! This is very touching story and it reaches out to my heart . I have 99.9 percentile almost 5 years old girl. After a year at this small, non commercial lovely preschool, I showed the principal the poem that my little one wrote,she suggested me to work with child psychologist to find out more and get the formal report. That was 3 months ago. And I believe, that was a good decision. The little girl we know very smart turn out to be 99.9 percentile who is very advanced in academic skill who emotionally/socially fits in very well with her age peers . We started to understand why : when asked her to do certain things, she does things differently than expected or she keeps asking endless questions about simple task, than just quickly finish the simple task. She reads average 30 books average per week and she reads only just before bedtime. She loves arts and crafts where it gives her so much liberty to express herself. So, as parents, we started to look for kindy for coming intake, where we hope one will give her enjoyment and intellectual satisfaction. I keep the word gifted low most of the time as I look like strange person,I’ve been told many times, what I shouldn’t do to 5 years old child and this and that. At the end, 2 private schools turn out to understand my questions and I didn’t get the strange look. They listen to me with reply what they have done previously for these kids. So, we are relived. Let alone bragging, we couldn’t talk about giftedness in crowd, if we want to fit in.This is the incredible journey, with lots of emotions, worries, proud, joy, and fears. Sometimes I wonder, it is not right nor fair, that we are so misinterpreted that we become people who are afraid to tell about those incredible abilities of gifted children and the help the we need . Instead, we should be saying out loud with pride and abit of bragging, my child is gifted and I am looking for school that could help her fullest .In our society, when a child always get straight A, parents do proudly mention it and it doesn’t look odd, if a child is the best soccer player in school team, everybody cheers and parents are openly proud of the kid ability. It is not fair that we have to lay low.Our kids need to know that they are gifted and it is great and we are very proud of them. They do entitle the opportunity be nurtured to become their best . That was my heart writing. In reality, how do I achieve that, burning question to myself.

    • Yes, it is an incredible journey, Myat, one with both very extraordinary moments and with some of the most heartbreaking moments. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us! We all need to share, speak out and help others understand that giftedness is not all it is perceived to be.

      Thank you, Myat!

      • Hello, Thank you ! I do not believe I am a gifted person, but a person with putting a lot of efforts when needed. I have this very gifted child, and I am very lucky that two private school appreciate her. Yet, I have seriously thinking, how to nature those beautiful minds. My little one, with no learning disability, everyone sees she is doing great and she will be great with little effort. I am a stay home mum, I look at her everyday. She taught herself everything, reading, writing, maths, sounds great, but will she learn how to being taught? At the moment, she is very fast in learning, so she didnt require to practice or her practice( her working hard) doesnt count / or looks like nothing to me. I observed how she learnt to write alphabet and , she was writing a story and she copied the words and sentences she doesnt know from books around her. Same go for maths.I just need to buy books and she works from there with her pace. Hardworking we saw was like when she was one or 2 trying to figure out lego and playing dough. Now, free hand boxes, papers and art materials and reading makes her more satisfaction. Most of the new toys, she figures out and out grow easily. Even for puzzles, if she is doing puzzles for pretty flowers or pony, she wont do it again. Puzzles need to be map or poems or maths or periodic tables, she will enjoy it again. So, by observing her, I understand, she is bored by redundant things. I wonder how do I teach her how to work hard,or general stuffs that we do. I still havent explain to schools about my detail concerns due to my so many experiences, I’ve been let down, told off. I’ve been told that she will be fine. But I see her everyday, I know in my heart, I’ve to find something right for her. Do I sound like bragging, but I write this with heavy heart. homeschool her is not option. I know she loves to be with friends.

        • You understand your daughter best and know best what she needs. Trust yourself, and don’t be afraid to speak up for you daughter and her needs. Thanks, Myat!

  17. Erin’s story hit home hard. I can so completely relate. I had the same awakening when i started to read about my daughters characteristics and traits. Couple Erin’s school experience with a learning disability and it was doubly hard especially when it came to math. I never felt good at anything. I mean anything. I failed tests, I was told my work wasn’t mine, I was also shunned for my facts. I too was often accused of having my parents doing my writing assignments. I was also often publically humiliated and ridiculed by my teachers. Which caused my class mates to push away. By 2ND grade i shut down and refused to participate and it was like that pretty much until I graduated. Hugs Erin. Sadly, we are not alone. I wish we could change things. I think this is why I have become so enthralled by the topic of gifted as well. I don’t want others to suffer like us. Thank you for sharing your story Erin.

    • This is all so overwhelming to me, and heartbreaking–your story, Erin’s story and John’s story (previous comment). How can we continue to allow gifted individuals to be treated this way? This all is so wrong–that we have a strength, an intellectual strength, that many are envious of and take action with their envy, but yet brings us so much heartache.

      I’m convinced that the more we all share, and share some more, the greater the chance we may change the misperceptions of what giftedness feels like!

      Thank you, Nicole, for sharing your story and experiences on your blog, Patchwork Poppies! <3

  18. I read this story and my heart sank. I know **exactly** how Erin felt. I am seeing a therapist now because of all the bullying I endured in late elementary and early high school, as well as in adulthood.

    I had two teachers in elementary school who hated me, because I corrected them publicly. I had a grade 10 science teacher who got mad at me when I criticised his use of the (inaccurate) Rutherford model of the atom, and I said we should be learning about Quantum Mechanics theory instead. He responded: “These kids are **too dumb** to understand Quantum Mechanics theory” (emphasis added by me). He did his level best to kill my love of science. Fortunately my dad is a brilliant scientist (now retired) so that wasn’t going to happen.

    And the kids treated me like a freak of nature, and called me that. In elementary school, I was called “Encyclopaedia Brown” after a fictional character who was super-bright and found — and corrected — problems he found in teachers’ and students’ presentations, as well as solving mysteries and defrocking frauds. The bullies thought it was an insult. I thought it was a compliment. That’s the least bad name I was called. Some of the worst ones can’t even be printed without offending others; but the “milder” were fag, homo, queer (I’m not gay), freak, nerd, geek, retard (when I didn’t finish at/near the top of the class), cheater (when I DID finish at/near the top of the class). You get the idea.

    I thought with university I’d be through all that, that bullying “only” happens in childhood and adolescence. Lucky me, I worked for years in a union shop where the president of the union was severely anti-university and anti-intellectual, and he encouraged my “brothers and sisters” to attack me and people like for being “book-smart, not real-life-smart”.

    I have had bosses who have outright hated me, including a boss at a computer tech company where I was working as an I.T.support specialist and consulting systems/network administrator, who absolutely HATED his technical staff. Why? He was a marketer. We were “engineering types”; We were all smarter than he was, and he knew it. At one point he tried to ban us from discussing technical matters while in the office, because he felt “left out”.

    I had several bosses and supervisors who told me that by reason of their superior status, they should be thought of as “the smartest person in the room”, and because of their elevated status, they tried to do everything in their power to “prove” how dumb I was — fortunately they were NOT the majority of supervisors or bosses; only about 20%, but they did 80% of the emotional damage of undercutting my self-confidence as an employee, which is why I want to work only as a self-employed professional, or as an entrepreneur with a small staff — people I swear I’ll NEVER treat as atrociously as I have been treated.

    Most recently I lost one of my very best friends over the “genius” issue. She is not that smart, and her brothers, both of whom can be effectively described as “sociopathic” and both of whom intensely manipulated my (now ex-) friend Cheryl on all sorts of matters (one brother extorted control of the family home from Cheryl and forced her to sign over her portion to him; the other spent two years in prison for bank fraud and, upon release, scammed HIS OWN MOTHER as well as his sister for $450,000 (combined) in fraudulently obtained credit cards.

    The older one, Bill, made sure that Cheryl told him EVERYTHING that I told her. He got outraged to learn that I had been considering joining MENSA; after all, BILL was the ONLY true genius in his circle of family, friends and acquaintances. How DARE an unemployed ex-gas-station attendant like me think I am so much smarter than he is. After all, he’s his own gift to G-d Almighty! Bill, using Cheryl as a puppet-on-a-string, he used her to harass and soak up so much of my time, energy and emotions that I ended up hospitalized for nine weeks with severe weight-gain due to heart-related oedema (I blew up to 465 lbs). Cheryl, you may be glad to know, is no longer my friend and never will she be so again. Sad though, to lose a friend through such a severe betrayal.

    I now regret that I did not do more to try and fit in. I have an IQ in the 99th percentile of the population. I don’t currently see myself as “extremely gifted’; more like “extremely cursed”

    Thanks for letting me tell my story, and for reading through it, if you’ve done so.

    • John, I did read through your story, and my heart *sank*. Over and over, and I can’t tell you how many times over, your story, Erin’s story and so many gifted individuals’ stories all have the same plot, same conflict, but maybe just different endings. I’m so sorry for you, and Erin and all gifted individuals who suffered through these injustices and heartbreak.

      And as you’ve shared, the envy and resentment felt towards many gifted individuals does not in childhood; it continues into the workplace as what many call workplace bullying.

      I so appreciate you sharing your story. It is so important for all of us to share our stories about the dark side of giftedness to help bring about a real understanding of the reality of giftedness. It is not all it is cracked up to be.

      John, I hope you will continue to share your experiences so that it may help others on this path or to help those who do not understand this rocky path we are on.

      Many thanks to you!

  19. This was a painful, beautiful read. Erin’s story is too often the norm, and that breaks my heart. Her children are very fortunate to have such a caring, intelligent, thoughtful mother. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you, Nicole. It is a sweet, beautiful story that sadly is still repeating itself today with our own gifted children. Even when they seem okay, it still hurts and still stifles, when gifted children are miseducated. I was so happy that Erin agreed to share her story!

  20. Erin, thank you so much for sharing your story. I could relate to so much of it- from my own educational experience and that of my son. Unfortunately, it’s a story we hear all too often. I wish things were different for these kids. It’s so important to get these stories out there. Thank you for sharing yours!

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