Gifted Children: Our Five-Leaf Clovers

Four-Leaf Clovers—a Symbol of all Things Good

Four-leaf clovers are an atypical variation of clover which can infrequently be found hidden among the more common three-leaf clovers in a clover patch. They are symbolic for bringing good luck to the finder who happily discovers the rare and wonderful find in a patch of clover. It is widely known that a four-leaf clover is a wholly positive symbol which is why many organizations and companies use a four-leaf clover design as a logo or trademark. Four-leaf clovers have the reputation of being all good with no known negative attributes.

Gifted Children—a Symbol of all Good Things

Giftedness, especially in children, is understood as being a totally advantageous and better-than condition. Kind of how we look at four-leaf clovers—it’s all good. Gifted children as a population have generally been equated solely as those who easily excel in school, consistently earn good grades and high scores, and are then tagged to participate in coveted gifted education programs. These gifted children are also known for having parents who brag about their intellectual feats and firsts. Those perfect kids and their braggy parents. I can see the eyes rolling about now.

Every Child is Different and Unique

Most of us understand not every child can excel in school. This reasoning comes from the belief that every child is different and unique, and every child has different strengths, traits, talents, weaknesses and gifts exhibited in school or out of school. Yes, it is widely accepted that every human is different with his or her own unique set of strengths and weaknesses, talents and flaws, abilities and disabilities, so we then understand that not every child will excel in school, or in sports, or in music. As well, gifted children also have different strengths and weaknesses, and they do not always excel in school. In fact, many gifted children struggle, fail and drop out of school.

Cutting Down the Tall Poppies

But yet, gifted children and their parents are not accepted in this all-humans-are-different sort of way. Because gifted children are believed to be smarter and better than other children, many feel the need to cut gifted children and their parents down to size. Gifted children and their parents are often mocked, bullied, shunned and criticized by envious people who really don’t care to know the real facts about giftedness. The reality is, all humans are different, but a gifted child’s differences, especially the weaknesses, are not believed or accepted much at all.

Gifted Children are Not Like Four-Leaf Clovers

I was discussing gifted children with my husband one day when the comparison of four-leaf clovers to gifted children came up. I pondered that comparison for a second, thinking of the statistical occurrence of giftedness in the human population as compared to the incidence of four-leaf clovers among the three-leaf clovers in clover patches. Then my thought process quickly catapulted me to the conclusion that, no, gifted children are not at all like four-leaf clovers because four-leaf clovers are understood to be wholly positive—all good, no bad. Four-leaf clovers seem to more closely compare to the fictitious stereotype of a gifted child—that stereotype that portrays giftedness as a net-positive with no downsides.

The truth, the facts and the reality of giftedness show that giftedness has its share of advantages and disadvantages, upsides and downsides, strengths and weaknesses, some good and some bad.

The Truth About Giftedness

Giftedness is not determined by how well a child does in school. Perfect grades are not the criteria for gifted identification. High achievement does not always equal giftedness, and giftedness does not always equal high achievement. Giftedness is not a net-positive. Gifted children are just a different sort of learner. Being gifted is the way they were born, it is who they are—in school and at home.

Giftedness is just different, not better.

Gifted children are cognitively different from other learners in that they need a different education than what is taught in the regular classroom for their same-age peers. They generally learn more quickly, and often need to get deeper into a subject to satisfy their need to fully understand the concepts and make the necessary connections. Yes, gifted children may be several grade levels ahead of their same-age peers in school, but it may only be in math, or just language arts. They could also be behind in a certain subject or failing a class. Gifted children do not always excel in school, especially when they are held back and forced to relearn material they have already mastered which is frequently the case. Frustration can result and then they may give just give up or drop out. What’s more, gifted children may also have learning disabilities which need accommodations.

At home, gifted children can be intense—their emotional intensity wears on their friends and parents, and they can pursue their passions and interests tirelessly, often with weary parents in tow. Gifted children also may have extreme sensitivities known as overexcitabilities. A constant ticking noise, a lingering odor or a social injustice can cause significant distress in a gifted child. Because of some of their differences such as overexcitabilities, and intensities, gifted children find it difficult to make and keep friends.

In the classroom, gifted students are judged, wrongly so, as only having distinct intellectual and social advantages over other students—excellent grades, popular among their peers, consistently high scores, superior academic achievement. Teachers and other parents believe that gifted children have it made which is an absolute myth. From this, our gifted children are then unjustly branded with the better-than reputation which not only leads to resentment and bullying from others, but contributes to the huge barrier preventing gifted children from receiving the educational accommodations they need to thrive in school.

Gifted children are not at all like a four-leaf clover. They are not always the high-achieving student. Gifted children have their share of weaknesses and downsides. For crying out loud, they are just children and their lives are no better than any other child’s life. They are different, and surely not better.

Gifted Children—Our Five-Leaf Clovers

As my discussion with my husband about four-leaf clovers and gifted children continued, we both came to the conclusion that the true gifted child compares more to closely to a five-leaf clover. The five-leaf clover is not like the four-leaf clover with its all-good, spotless reputation.

We really don’t know much about the attributes of a five-leaf clover just as most people don’t know much about gifted children—real gifted children, not the fictitious, mythical gifted child. Just like a gifted child, the five-leaf clover is a bit of a quirky organism, quite different and it occurs infrequently in nature. It is not tagged, or burdened, with some mythical, magical, net-positive perfection. The most we can say about the quirky five-leaf clover is we find them less often and they are different—different, not better.

A five-leaf clover is simply different—just like a gifted child.

five leaf clover

12 Comments on “Gifted Children: Our Five-Leaf Clovers

  1. Pingback: Article: “Gifted Children: Our Five-Leaf Clovers” By Celi Trépanier

  2. Hi Celi; Thank you, thank you, thank you. Yes, you NAILED it! “Gifted children are just a different sort of learner” — not better people, not worse, not anything other than what they are. You know from my many postings how I have struggled and in some cases come out the worse for wear; the last person to get a “hate-on” for me cost me three years of my life and two hospitalizations — time I wanted to spend getting my I.T. consulting business up and running, getting industry certifications, and living harassment-free, instead I was fending off absurd arguments that had no logic, no reason, no sensibility, and did so over and over again ad infinitum, till I dropped from sheer exhaustion.
    I realized or decided that what my former friend(‘s brother) put me through was more like severe harassment rather than outright bullying, but the effect and outcome were the same.

    And I still stick to my position (probably due to my ‘complex post traumatic stress disorder’) that it’s not accurate to describe me as ‘extremely gifted’; much better to call me ‘extremely cursed, but with some side-benefits’ — a vaguely silver lining to a super-thundercloud of misery and hurt, socially and emotionally. I perceive my situation as though the “norm” was the horrible abuse/bullying I endured in grades 5-9 and part of ten; that “norm” reasserted itself from late 2010 until early this year (2015). The 29 years between those two periods weren’t ‘normal’. They were a hiatus, a break from the norm of bullying, harassment, and ongoing attempts to break my spirit, my sense of self-worth so that these bullies, enviers, mediocrities, anti-intellectuals, narcissists and psychopaths could feel good about themselves.

    And we — you and I — had a long discussion about me being a freak or an anomaly. It’s simply impossible to have an IQ four and a third standard deviations above average and NOT be, at least, “unusual”. That’s like saying to someone who stands 6’10” tall, that, they aren’t really THAT unusual. Oh yes they are. So I used the wrong term, but “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” (or a manure-pile as bad, by any other name, equally), as Shakespeare put it. You see the upsides, and recognize the problems are external. As someone who’s suffered tremendous abuse and bullying, some of it sharply violent (head smashed against a wall, testicles twisted and wrenched, spat on, punched, kicked, thrown down stairs 2x), I am in no shape to argue that it’s not part and parcel of the fact (for me at least) of having been born a “different learner”.
    So as glad as I am that you really do “get” the life of the gifted, and that NOT everyone is gifted “in their own special way” (turn on the mealy-mouthed politically correct vomit-spewing machine now, please), I have come through the very much rougher side of the downsides — which I see as the MAIN problem — of being extremely gifted. I can’t share (yet) in your positive, uplifting view that if only there were more education ABOUT the gifted, then they’d suffer less. I know, before you can raise the objection, that you aren’t that naive, and you know that no matter how much positive messaging goes out, there will always be incompetent teachers who feel threatened by students much smarter than they the teachers are, not to mention the usual gang of bullies, enviers, mediocrities, anti-intellectuals, narcissists and psychopaths, both adult and child, parent and non-parent. Nor are you so naive as to believe that throwing money at a broken system will fix it — and as I have said before, it’s a broken system for MOST students, not just the gifted; I know, I know.

    What’s needed is something I have mentioned before, and repeat: a wholesale change, not just in the school system and how it teaches, but a societal “rethink” about how gifted and genius children, adolescents and adults are regarded. Canada and the USA are too mistrustful of the very brightest. The attitude in North America towards gifted people today is much the same as my parents encountered, growing up as young Jews in Ontario, Canada in the 1930’s and 1940’s: WASPs (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) wealthy people disdained Jews. They saw them as social inferiors. BUT, should they have needed the very best doctor, lawyer, accountant or other professional, should they have needed a research scientist or a (university-educated) business manager, upon whom did they call first? Jewish professionals, of course. Not good enough to treat as equals, but good enough to fix problems.
    This situation in North America is NOT universal, though we like to think it is. Japan, Israel, South Korea, and many other East Asian countries, not to mention Germany and Switzerland; in these nations people actually VALUE their best and brightest. They comfortably tolerate the eccentricities of the gifted in order to receive the benefits. They do not differentially shun-but-desire their top minds. Here, a genius is socially acceptable only if he (and it is preferentially still “he”) is a billionaire. Be an “ordinary” (albeit brilliant) professional, and the attitude ranges from reluctant acceptance to over hostility (as an IT consultant, I am amazed at the number of business owners who played head games against me even as i helped them with their computer or network problems in an effort to retain their “top dog” status).
    Israel, as documented in the book “Start-up Nation” has more technology entrepreneurships than any other country on Earth INCLUDING the USA! not proportionally; no, in ABSOLUTE terms. Japan has a thriving counter-culture which allows a creative outlet for their brightest people; anime, manga, and a wide variety of eccentric and seemingly un-Japanese activities, in order to reward and encourage creativity. Their languishing economy is not for lack of brain-power.
    We in North America have to find a way to throw out the mistrust that hangs around the Gifted; too often University Scientists are regarded as “radical leftists”, having been confused and conflated with their Humanities counterparts. And the global warming issue/movement that is so damaging to science’s credibility is NOT helping, having been hijacked by anti-capitalists and deep enviros who wish to turn the Western nations into Bhutan or Nepal, in some misguided Luddite, anti-science, anti-technology mega-rant, a ‘soft’ version of the Pol Pot Khmer Rouge idea of an agrarian utopia (i.e, with far less killing). “Ordinary” geniuses are disparaged and attacked. Super-rich geniuses (Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Steve Wozniak) are venerated and adored — not for their genius, but for having made themselves billionaires.
    It has to change, in order to free up all that pent-up creativity in North American society. The USA can recapture its greatness, but not if it is burdened with a sclerotic school system combined with do-nothing politicians (or those who actually LIKE the status quo, because it gets them votes). It won’t change if we assume that scientists are dangerous radicals; if whole swathes of Canada and the USA reject whole swathes of science (evolutionary theory, quantum mechanics, big bang theory, etc.) as being “anti-Bible”, and “anti-Christian” (neither of which is true).

    Thanks for perhaps setting some sparks in the hope that the idea of a more global change can “catch fire”, Celi.

    Sorry, off my soapbox. Thanks for the chance to rant.

    • Hi John,

      You are always welcome to rant here because you provide us all with eye-opening evidence of a deeper problem gifted people face. A problem with huge influential factors embedded in politics, business, society, religion and education.

      Yes, I am only one person trying to do my part in stoking the very small fire gifted advocates have started, but we definitely need more fuel, more stokers, more voices–more momentum. If every person who has read my blog, or any article advocating for gifted people (not including the haters and trolls) would email a legislator, write an op-ed and submit it to the local newspaper, email their school board members or ask to speak at a school board meeting, the flame would not always be so much in danger of going out.

      And if somebody I know who understands firsthand the real, traumatic downsides of giftedness and can so passionately and eloquently express them here would write a book about the issues he is so knowledgeable about, well that would stoke this fire very nicely! 🙂

      Thank you, John. As always!

  3. My gifted child find 5 and 6 leaf clovers all of the time. I love this comparison. It really suits her.

    • I have only found five- and six-leaf clovers a few times which is why I had to use scotch tape to “make” the one in the graphic for this post, lol! Thanks, Bonnie!

  4. Hi Celi;

    I’d like to jump on my soapbox again for minute, if you don’t mind. If you think about gifted/genius students as “different learners”, then it follows that such people are “different thinkers” and “different behavers” too. In other words, such people are DIFFERENT, in many diverse aspects. So here’s my question and comment: why is it that people are so afraid of gifted students’/children’s’/adolescents’/adults’ DIFFERENTNESS?
    Oh, I have talked from an academic or intellectual point of view on the issue of conformity — which is really what I am getting at: the difference between conformity vs. non-conformity. So the “whys” I think are fairly clear, and one needs only to look at my previous comment on this post, as well as previous posts of mine, to see these reasons laid out.
    I guess the better question would be thus: given that there are so many forces laid out against non-conformity, why do so many people miss the essential connection between non-conformity and gifted creativity? It’s as though people (the ones who fail to understand the nature and constellation of behaviours that make up ‘giftedness’ or ‘genius’) can’t seem to wrap their heads around the idea that the weirdness, eccentricity, non-conformity, and orthagonal thinking (‘orthagonal’ is defined as: “of or involving right angles; at right angles.”) is not a negative but a ***necessity***.
    How on EARTH can anyone be strait-laced, perfectly just-ever-so, always doing what is expected of them, never breaking convention, and yet produce amazing, Earth-shattering writings, scientific discoveries, legal judgements, new medical treatments, even poetry and art, WITHOUT being able to think ‘at right angles’ to what everyone else is thinking?
    The same people who fail to understand the nature and constellation of behaviours that make up ‘giftedness’ or ‘genius’ (and from here on in, I will just call them the “anti’s”, because that is a lot shorter) have this bizarre idea that you can load a 300 lb. Sumo wrestler on the back of an Olympic-class runner and expect that runner to still perform at Olympic-class levels. It’s impossible! I should know, I speak from experience.
    I won’t load you down with all the stories I have in my head in which someone — a teacher, fellow students, bosses and supervisors — demanded excellent performance from me, while at the same time, demanded I do so in a conventional manner. HOW, oh, how can one be conventional and unconventional at the same time? How can you be both conforming to the group expectation, and yet produce something so NON-conforming that everyone is blown away by it? The stories are too many, and orbit around on a main theme: “Be brilliant, but don’t do so in any way that will upset the apple-cart, or rock the boat, or cause anyone to think twice about anything.” In other words, do the impossible — I command it!
    A teacher who couldn’t understand how a ten-year-old could write an essay — no, sorry DICTATE TO HIS FATHER — an essay on Black Holes, yet the principal virtually ORDERED the teacher to award an A+ (he did not, giving me only A-, because of my lack of notes, rough or good draft). Math teachers who couldn’t figure out how I could figure out an approximation of a Square Root — in my head — and be within portions of a decimal of the correct answer. A boss of mine whom I frequently infuriated by coming up with tech solutions that solved clients’ computer problems, but were nowhere near as cash-rich as his rather narrow and cash-obsessed “solutions” were, almost all of which wouldn’t have solved the clients’ problems.
    You see the nature of the problem. These three examples were from elementary, High school and my adult work-life. How does one excel, burdened down by demands to be the same as every other person? Is an Olympic runner faster if we attach 100 lb weights to her? Is a scientist going to win a Nobel Prize if you tell them, “Don’t do anything to upset the Traditionalists (or echo-chamber-obessed Leftists, to be fair) in our Society?”
    When Einstein published his papers on the Special Theory of Relativity, in 1905, it took until the **1920’s** for people (let alone other scientists) to grasp how seismically tremendous his theory was. He was disappointed at the lack of reaction, but the reality was, it was too overpowering, too weird a set of ideas for most people, most scientists to grasp. Yet here we are 110 years later, and Einstein’s theories are still celebrated as the amazing, awesome achievements they are.
    Part of the reason was that he was allowed to think on his own. A theoretical physicist, unlike an experimental physicist, does not need a lot of equipment: Pen and paper, a chalkboard, chalk and eraser, and of course the MIND needed to think mind-blowing thoughts. He did his work while working as a patent clerk, Not demanding work, and he could do his physics on his own time.
    That’s what gifted people need, I think: time, and space (with apologies to Herr Professor Einstein for the pun). In other words, the time and space, the opportunity to be alone with ones thoughts, and also have the opportunity to collaborate and communicate with other super-smart people. I don’t know what that would make a classroom for gifted students look like, though I am sure that a Montessori-like environment might be the closest to what I envision Gifted/Genius people might need.
    I am just musing aloud (as it were) on this whole topic. But one thing I am sure of: the deadliest enemy of genius is a demand for conformity.
    My two cent’s worth.
    Okay, I am hopping off the soapbox again. thanks, Celi, for allowing me the space to muse aloud.

    • John,

      With this trip up on your soapbox, you must have been inside my brain because this is what I have always questioned. YES, EXACTLY! to everything you have said.

      How can we expect a child who excels in say, math, to continue to follow his passions and strengths if we keep hold him back because acceleration in school is not feasible, or it may cause an uprise from other parents?

      My analogy that swims around in my head daily is one that has teachers telling their students, “You can be anything you want to be. Be all you can be. Reach for the stars! . . . .but whoa, not too fast or too far because, you know, school won’t allow it. Here’s the box you can operate in. The stars you want to reach for are painted right here on the cardboard above your head See? Now, go get ’em tiger, but stay in the box.”

      “why is it that people are so afraid of gifted students’/children’s’/adolescents’/adults’ DIFFERENTNESS?” Because humans are fickle and while some say they are tolerant or accepting of differences, many are only tolerant or accepting of some differences that don’t make them feel bad about themselves. Most often we don’t want to accept a difference like giftedness because those parents whose child is not gifted don’t want their child to feel inferior. And although their child may not be a child prodigy on the Ellen Degeneres show or a super teenage pop star, they will tolerate, accept and even worship this “better-than” scenario.

      As the saying goes, giftedness is a source of resentment and contention among other people, parents (who don’t have a gifted child) and teachers UNTIL that child reaches eminence such as winning the national spelling bee or inventing a revolutionary test for pancreatic cancer or becoming a super teenage pop star. Then we can justify accepting their giftedness.

      It is all fueled by fickleness, envy, competitiveness, and hypocrisy which likely stems from people who don’t feel good enough about themselves to willingly admit their child is good enough as they are, or they are good enough (even though their child is not gifted or a tennis prodigy or the star quarterback). The grass is always greener.

      Dang it, John, you jump down off your soapbox just to throw me up there! 🙂

  5. Hi Celi;

    I hope I am not dominating the comments space. I really do want others to respond. However, I would like to explore another thing that I believe befalls the extremely gifted; I don’t have the scientific evidence to back it up. I am just saying this based on my own experiences, and those of others I’ve met who are extremely gifted (i.e., Genius). For brevity, I want to refer to such people as EGPs (extremely gifted people), and their opponents as “Anti’s”.
    My concern here is, what happens to EGPs after they leave high school? If they get into university, and a Masters and PhD program, AND if they are able to secure a professorship or a position as a researcher or academic in a private or government institution, that’s great.
    I have talked to professors, and scientists who work either for private think-tanks, the government directly, or in university, and they have told me how great their lives are; they don’t have bosses as such; they are able to read, write and research whatever suits their fancy (albeit limited by funding). Same for those EGPs who become doctors or lawyers or other independent professionals, and are thus granted wide ranges of freedom, they are golden, good to go, and happy as pigs in mud. Some will go on, if engineers or scientists with an entrepreneurial bent, to create businesses where they run the show, and call all their own shots (limited only by client demands and expectations, naturally).

    What about the other EGPs?

    I am only going on my own experiences, my discussions and encounters with other EGPs; I don’t have surveys or research to support my conclusions. But I will venture to say, that a substantial number of these EGPs are “lost”. By that I mean, that the marketplace has no real niche for them. They don’t fit into 9-5 regular jobs, as far as I can tell. I don’t know if I am the only one, but as an EGP myself, I find 9-5 regular jobs to be strangulating, suffocating and mind-numbing.
    Perhaps it’s just me; certainly my enemies, the Anti’s in my life have made it bloody clear that my complaint masks that in actuality, I am just a whining, complaining, lazy, good-for-nothing bum, who cries piteously, expecting everyone to feel sorry for me, and using my (non-existent) high IQ as an excuse to not work.
    I have countered that I am not afraid of work, in fact, given the right circumstances, I LOVE to work! I am a computer specialist. When I get going on a computer or network or software implementation project, I forget to eat or get up from the computer! I will stay, fascinatedly trying to make the project work. I am always learning and reading new stuff about Information Technology — and isn’t studying and reading “work”? Sure, I enjoy studying and learning new stuff, so that the work doesn’t feel like work; I am amazed when I am able to do IT stuff for clients. People are PAYING me to do something I enjoy! How is that NOT enjoying or wanting to work? Besides, and again, I guess I must be freakish, because I meet so many 9-to-5er’s who can’t wait to stop work each day. I can’t wait to START work, as long as it is interesting and challenging (not repetitive, which just depresses me and leaves me feeling miserably stupid); but besides, I really can’t see why loving the work I do do is somehow indicative that I don’t do “real” work.
    Many Anti’s argue that people like theoretical physicists, astronomers, and IT people (especially people in IT who are more involved in planning and design) don’t really work at all. The TV show “Big Bang Theory” had some fun with this, showing two of its characters, both physicists, spending hours just thinking, not writing on chalkboards, not sitting madly typing into a computer, but just standing or sitting around THINKING!

    HOW DARE THEY, scoff the Anti’s. They need to WORK (and it never dons on them that considering the nature of sub-atomic particles and the math/physics involved IS work, albeit all mental).

    Real people do REAL work, like digging ditches, putting up drywall, “slinging hash” as a short-order cook, etc. etc. etc. Now, I don’t look down on the people who do such work. It’s vital and necessary if our society and economy is to survive and grow. If the world were solely made up of EGPs, frankly, we’d still be living in caves, because the world would be filled with thinkers, not do-ers. We need the do-ers. What I believe the Anti’s don’t get is, we ALSO NEED THE THINKERS!
    Where do these people think the Internet came from? Or plastic surgery? Or their cool new iPhones? From the air? No, a who bunch of gifted and EGP people had and have jobs or do work that led and leads to these new technologies.
    So I have some questions: (1) what happens to EGPs who can’t find a niche? (2) Why is the very NATURE of EGP work looked down upon? (until it gives an Anti a cool new smartphone or MacBook Air, of course); I have given a “macro” answer to the question, but I still don’t “get” what the personal resentment and disdain that the Anti’s have for EGP occupations.
    When I tell people I am an IT specialist, I get one of three reactions: (a) calm acceptance; (b) puzzled bemusement, as though they’ve never ever met anyone actually in the computer industry, or (c) a facial reaction akin to me having said, “Hi, my name’s John, I am covered head-to-toe in human feces, I am an active carrier of both AIDS and Small-pox, and oh, yes, before I forget, I just raped your mother”.
    Needless to say, if encountering (b) is bad, encountering (c) is horrendous. C-responders ask me **why** I’d ever be in such a profession; that they don’t understand computers, and often say they outright hate either computers or tech in general; and pepper me with questions all of which have one underlying theme: how can you do something about which I don’t understand anything? If I spend any time for any reason around C-responders to the point where they feel familiar with me such that they can make off-hand jokes, out will come quietly rude comments about the usual nerd stereotypes: clumsy (yes), bad at sports (yes), LOVES Star Wars (yes), do I collect comics (no), do I “game” on computer or x-box (no), am I awkward around women (NO!), am I socially inept (certainly not), etc. etc.
    It’s no fun being around C-responders, as they are often judgemental, can be cruel, and insulting.
    What makes it worse for me — and easier for the Anti’s in my life — is that until around 2000, I tried DESPERATELY to “fit in” to the 9-to-5 work-world, and felt myself “lost”. I knew by then I was too old to make it into the world of academia; If I had started, in 2000, when I changed careers from psychology/psychotherapy to Information Technology, to try and get a PhD in computer science/computer systems, I’d JUST NOW be finishing my PhD at age 51 — far too old to be hired as a professor, seeing as I am legally only 14 years from official retirement age (not that I planned or plan to retire at 65).

    It wasn’t until I made the decision to be an entrepreneur 15 years ago that I became un-lost.

    One taste of full-time independent consulting and I was HOOKED! (My plan for being a psychologist was along parallel lines: get a PhD, a professorship, and do private-practice psychotherapy. Why I changed careers is a LONG story, not worth repeating here).
    But with the decision came a lot of resistance from family, (most of whom worked or work for large organizations or for government) who couldn’t understand WHY I would want to be an entrepreneur, and, as of 2010, the onslaught of Anti’s who gang-piled upon me once they learned I had congestive heart failure and left-leg lymphodema (“Kick ’em while they’re down!).
    So now I wonder, am I the ONLY EGP (or one of a very tiny minority of EGPs) who became “lost” and didn’t know where or how to find myself? And what about other EGPs? Are they in the same boat as me? Is this rare or common?

    Thanks again, Celi. As I’ve said before, you’re a G0DSEND!

    • Hey, John, I get exactly what you are saying and I understand the questions you have. I have thought about this very thing and I think there are so many factors such as fate, family, friends and life experiences, and probably luck, too, that play into all of this.

      My opinion? You are your own boss doing what you love–how much better can that be for any EGP!? My husband and I have encouraged our own sons to work towards having their own business or being their own boss–being independent, because you don’t need to be around the haters. The anti’s are simply envious and shouldn’t be given a second thought (which is easier said than done).

      I am curious to see how others respond to your questions…

      Thank you, John!

  6. I’d be interested in hearing John’s and Celi’s opinion on non-conformity & creativity/giftedness. I think that people do see the correlation between the two, but somehow miss the point by equating them.

    I’m just finding a trend in education circles of trying to teach or encourage “creativity” by teaching and encouraging non-conformity.

    I’m currently running a Coding 4 Kids program for kindergarten/gr 1, and this manifested itself last week. One of the kids consistently has trouble focusing on the task at hand. In this instance, the class was doing a worksheet, and instead of paying attention to the questions, he was drawing random things on the page. What struck me as interested was the fact that while he was doing this, he stood up and proudly exclaimed “I’m being creative!”

    I assume that this language and association came from school.

    To me, this is simply pointless non-conformity being paraded as creativity. For me, this is a hugely detrimental idea to be promoting to students.

    I’ll contrast that with another student who also has difficult focusing on the tasks given. We use the code.org program to do programming exercises, and he barely ever does the task assigned! But he does try to put weird things in the input fields – huge numbers, strings, etc. in an attempt to find the boundaries of what works/what breaks.

    To me, that’s also non-conformity, but with a purpose and curiosity behind it (even though he may not think/realize so)

    I’d be interested in your opinions about that. Is all encouraging all forms of non-conformity good?

    • Jon, you are bringing up many good points and great ideas to think about. I would have to think more on this and do more research to get a more accurate idea, but my gut-instinct tells me that creativity can’t be taught. Creativity is like a virtue–parents, possibly teachers, can inspire, nurture, encourage and guide a child’s basic creative instincts.

      Non-conformity on the other hand can be a good thing and a bad thing, and teaching non-conformity can be fraught with potential problems. We live in a society full of other people–we live with neighbors, friends, family and strangers. There will always be a level of conformity. But conformity, as long as it is not illegal, immoral or hurtful to others, should never cause a person to sacrifice who they really are.

      I just don’t see how either should or could be formally taught especially in school. Giftedness naturally exhibits levels of creativity and non-conformity by nature, and nurturing and guiding both has to be done with care by someone who is invested in the child.

      And education always has a trend or new philosophy usually promoted by textbook publishing companies, and everybody jumps on the bandwagon until the next trend comes along. If creativity and non-conformity are the newest, next-best thing, and are the sought-after attribute of the hour, then there will be someone who will try to make money off of it whether it is good for students or not.

      Those are my off-the-cuff thoughts, but those may change a bit when I get a chance to really read and research all the studies, philosophies and experiences about non-conformity and creativity.

      Good insights and questions, Jon! I’d love for everyone to chime in on the questions you bring up. What a great discussion that would be!

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