Being Gifted is Often NOT the Same as Being High-Achieving

When most of us think of gifted children, we automatically think of high-achieving students—the smart ones. I think this misperception began in our schools.

Well, I am not saying they intentionally created this misperception, but—

Too many gifted education programs in our schools are implemented to recognize, identify and accept students into their programs based on their performance in school—grades, standardized test scores, behavior. These programs often then accept just the smart ones.

Not all schools, but too many.

Most of us only know about giftedness through our educational systems which all too frequently promote a stereotype of the gifted child as one who is consistently high-achieving, well-behaved, and who has advanced development in social, emotional and leadership skills. The promotion of this stereotypical gifted child is compounded by gifted education programs in traditional schools which often recognize giftedness in children by their level of achievement and performance in school.

Of course, that is my opinion based on my years of experience being both a mom of three gifted boys and being a public school teacher, but the fact remains, schools do continually cultivate the perception that giftedness is synonymous with high-achievement and due to two main reasons:

 

#1 For public schools, grades matter— they matter for recognition, they matter for funding, and they matter for teachers’ job security. Developing students who demonstrate high-achievement by offering them acceleration and enrichment in gifted education programs helps to ensure the high test scores needed to meet the high-stakes expectations placed on public schools. Would you ever believe that a child who had B’s, C’s and D’s on his report card would be placed in a gifted education program?

#2 Pre-service teachers are often not properly taught or trained to recognize giftedness in children. As a former public school teacher, I remember sitting in my two-semester long graduate class on classroom management and discipline. During an extensive, weeks-long focus on special education, one class period, one 1-hour long class period, was spent on giftedness in children. I recall coming away from that class period with a vision in my head of a well-behaved, more emotionally and socially mature student who consistently excelled in the classroom and likely possessed advanced leadership skills—you know, a future valedictorian.

 

Based on decades of research studies, doctoral theses and anecdotal evidence, we know that many gifted children do not fit the stereotype of the gifted child public schools incidentally promote. We know that gifted children may not excel in school for many reasons. We know they may not always be well-behaved or polite. We know they may have a learning disability or other challenges to learning. We know they may excel in one subject while lagging behind in another. Gifted children do not always appear to be the smart ones. Gifted children do make average grades in school, and some even fail and drop out of school. These are facts about gifted individuals that juxtapose themselves to the traits of the misguided gifted child stereotype–high-achieving, maturity and success in school.

Giftedness is a condition which is very much misunderstood by our schools, by our mental health professionals, by our medical professionals, and by society as a whole almost worldwide.

The facts about giftedness are out there and they have been available for quite some time as the body of knowledge about giftedness continues to grow. Research studies, doctoral theses, professional articles, blog posts, international and national gifted organizations, professionals in the field of giftedness, and advocates and parents have all provided the facts about what gifted means, what giftedness looks like in children and in adults, what it truly is, and what the varying attributes are—and yet as a society, we’ve missed the boat by a long shot. We still, most often than not, associate giftedness with high-achievement.

As long as our teachers continue to recognize and identify giftedness by a child’s grades, test scores and his performance in school, giftedness will be synonymous with high-achievement. As long as our schools continue to populate our gifted education programs with only exemplary straight-A students, giftedness will continue to be synonymous with high-achievement.

When all of our teachers know and understand that not all gifted children will have straight A’s in every subject, then we will be able to identify gifted children who otherwise would not be placed in a gifted education program. When all of our schools come to understand that giftedness is not organically connected to school achievement, and not all gifted children will excel in every subject or perform exceptionally well across the board in school, then we will be able to serve all of our gifted children appropriately. We need to disassociate giftedness and gifted children with achievement and future success in life.

What can we do to disassociate high-achievement from being gifted? How can we cut that unfortunate cord?

Advocacy.

We all need to be a part of speaking out and speaking up, no matter how big or how small. We need to spread information, share the facts, talk to others, and encourage others to speak out. We need to speak up outside of the gifted community, stop preaching to the choir and reach those who do not understand. We all need to be part of the gifted conversation in order to help improve the education and the lives of our gifted children. We all need to do our part to dispel the myths, banish the stereotype and cut the cord.

Because being gifted is often not the same as being high-achieving; gifted children are not always the smart ones.

 

RELATED ARTICLES

 

Giftedness is More Than a Function of Education

#1 Gifted Students Do Not Always Excel in School 

Achievement & Success. We’ve Got This All Wrong

The Misunderstood Face of Giftedness

I’m Jealous of Your Smart Kid 

Dear Teacher, My Gifted Child is in Your Class

The Surprising Downsides of Being Clever

How Stereotypes Affect Gifted Children

 

This article is part of the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum blog hop, “Why Is High-Achieving Synonymous with Being Gifted?” Click on the link below to read more information about this topic.

24 Comments on “Being Gifted is Often NOT the Same as Being High-Achieving

  1. I have been reading your posts for a little while and I appreciate what you have to say. As parents, despite having gone through the struggle of being gifted in normal school ourselves, we were unprepared for how much difficulty we would have bringing up our son. We thought that by moving to a place with better schools and more extracurricular opportunities things would work out swimmingly for him. This is not what happened. Instead, it seems we have only increased his consciousness of opportunities outside school and made school look worse by comparison.

    He’s at the best exam school in our city and he’s bored stiff. He’s got to take eighth grade math in eighth grade, but in his own time he’s finished the first year of calculus and has begun the second. And it’s not like he has an A in eighth grade math, either; when I ask him why he doesn’t get perfect scores on tests of grade-level math he knows he says it’s so boring his mind swims.

    I wish, in an absurd way that is so counter-factual it seems like a science fiction universe, that a condition of profound giftedness could be recognized as a disability and that a school could be required to address it as they address a learning disability like ADD.

    We had hoped that, with better schools and extracurricular opportunities that we had, our son could find a peer group at home that satisfied him intellectually. But it’s not going to happen. These days “the smart ones” are so involved in the grade grind and chasing pre-college resumes that they don’t socialize anymore. Every minute is goal-oriented. My son’s chamber music coach once tried to give an assignment to a violinist to go to the park for an hour and do absolutely nothing and she couldn’t comprehend it and couldn’t do it. She is at the most prestigious girls’ prep school in our region, and she couldn’t possibly spare an hour for contemplation, because that’s not how you get there. (It is, however, how you mature as an artist).

    Both my wife and I left our mediocre high schools and shipped off to college early, at 15 and 16 respectively. Now we’re thinking our son will have to do the same to find peers. Because school is just not sufficient for gifted kids, no matter where you are, and especially once they hit the teenage years.

    • I so understand what you are going through. Some parts read like the journey we took with one of our gifted sons.

      You are so right, “school is just not sufficient for gifted kids, no matter where you are.” A parent, like myself, hopes against hope, that this time it will be better, it will be different, only to find out it’s not. We were once in an outstanding school district which had a well-known public high school just for gifted kids. My child was not allowed in despite his gifted identification simply because his writing skills, according to his 6th grade ACT scores, were lacking–they said this would cause him to fall behind. I was actually told, “we do serve gifted students, but we are not a gifted school per se.” In other words, they wanted high-achieving students whether they were gifted or not.

      Gifted kids need more, they need different. They need what the vast majority of schools don’t or won’t offer. This is the reason why the largest sector of students moving to homeschooling are our gifted students. And homeschooling students are proving that they are surpassing their public-school educated counterparts in college because homeschooling allows students to embrace things like taking a one-hour trip to the park to just contemplate.

      I wish for you and your son all the best, and just remember you know in your heart what is best for your son! Thanks for writing! <3

  2. I recently caught the tail end of a program about Dr. Vera Good (https://www.commonword.ca/ResourceView/2/19678) who was a dedicated educator and believed that the Gifted should receive special schooling to help them “fly”.

    My issue with Dr. Good stems from something she said. When the teachers under her (she was a principal) said that it was those who were struggling who needed help she said “No” it was the “Gifted” ones who needed help to fly, after all they would be our future leaders.

    I think even today, many decades after Dr. Good, similar attitude are still prevenient in the various articles I’ve read over the past few years. It’s seems to be, at least to me, that whenever the lack of funding comes up it’s presented as being all right to remove funding from other groups. After all those who aren’t “gifted” aren’t going to accomplish as much, no matter how hard they work.

    I am not saying that Gifted children should not have educational curriculum that are geared to meet their unique needs. Nor is it acceptable for them to be bullied or belittled because of their differences. At some level, we must realize that with a limited amount of money, determination of a person’s worth is going to come into it. I’m not a parent but I suspect if I was I would be outraged if the school placed more value on a “Gifted” child simply because my own child was “non-Gifted”.

    I’m conflicted. I think a parent should champion their children to a point (no you should not go into an interview to negotiate their salary or pick out what they wear to the interview). On the other side, when people start weighing the worth of someone based on what that individual can potentially accomplish because a fluke of their birth, it gets right up my nose.

    • Douglas, I absolutely agree with you.

      Gifted students are no better, more valuable, more worthy, or more important than any other student. However, personally, I’ve never seen where gifted education took priority over special education for struggling students when money was an issue–to the contrary, gifted advocates’ biggest hurdle with school systems is to convince them that when money is tight, gifted education should not be the first to go. Without going into where I think school systems could save money and afford to educate ALL children equitably, the decision should never be the education of one group of children over another. NEVER. All children deserve to have an education which meets their needs, and a value placed on their contribution to society should never be a consideration!

    • There will likely be problems if the education of any group of children is thought of as an investment and expecting a return on that investment. It’s an easy argument to make to the authorities because of the current priorities of the world, but it’s probably not going to end anywhere good.

      Also, don’t capitalise gifted. Capital-G-Gifted is the X-Men. If you can’t set things on fire with your mind you’re just gifted. 🙂

  3. Expecting gifted children to perform to the high achiever stereotype is like trying to make a heavyweight powerlifter dance the role of the white swan. It ain’t gonna be graceful…

  4. So true! Gifted children are often underachievers, and many teachers, parents (who don’t have gifted children), and school administrators assume that giftedness and high achievers are the same. So much misunderstanding and lost time for these children.

  5. Thanks, Celi, for continuing to add your unique voice to the message that needs to keep being pounded and pounded into public awareness. Gifted students need to be properly understood and receive an education that is challenging in scope and also supportive of their social and emotional needs. They deserve nothing less.

  6. Celi, I’m a longtime reader and first time (I think) commenter, chiming in to thank you for being such a role model in terms of the advocacy you rightfully call for. I only recently happened upon that (infamous?) monograph published earlier in the 2010s that calls for giftedness to be redefined as “eminence” (meaning that children can only be “potentially gifted.”) It’s frustrating, even heart-breaking, to read. Here is a community of neurodivergent children and adults — some high-achieving, some not — who we were just beginning to understand and help to thrive as best we can with their often unique needs.

    And though giftedness is NOT the same as high achieving, it seems the only time those outside this community are willing to admit this is when they want to say, “HEY, guess what, these kids earlier generations thought were so great…well, they’re not all that great at all!” Oh yes, THEN they’ll agree that gifted isn’t necessarily high achieving, but with such a different underlying tone and purpose to your message here. In light of this, how do we steer the conversation back in directions that help these kids and adults?

    I have been pondering this, and I think sometimes it comes back to that pesky G-word. I have mixed feelings, and when faced with the crowd of people waiting for us to be dethroned, I want to hang on to it, proudly! But other times, when I’m trying to advocate for this group and why they do merit special education, I have tried using other words. I came up with one that seems to suit my purposes: abstract-intensive. It conveys both the comfort with abstractions (beginning with symbols such as letters at an early age, and going on through ideating and connecting abstract concepts), as well as the intensity that so often goes with giftedness. I’m not sure if it will work for everyone, but I’m just trying it on for size right now, to see if it helps me make my point. I rambled a bit more about this over in my blog recently, if anyone’s interested: https://counternarration.wordpress.com/2018/01/09/on-the-naming-and-describing-of-giftedness/

    Well, at a minimum, blogs like this help us find each other and compare notes, to let us know we’re not just weird!

    • Hi Jessie,

      I agree with the many points you made, and I thank you for sharing your insights into this gifted dilemma. And it is quite a dilemma, isn’t it?

      The word “gifted” is an unfortunate choice of words and I am getting quite adept at talking around it using phrases and other words which describe a child who has a high-IQ, is too smart for his own good, quirky, has learning differences, has special learning needs, and that all of this is very much misunderstood, especially in schools. After my roundabout way of describing my gifted child, I’ve actually had a few people offer up their own summation that my child is gifted–they said it, not me.

      But, giftedness is complex, and just as all people are different, all gifted children are different, so gifted is a term used for a broad group of people. As well, we know not all gifted children are high-achieving. It is such a pickle of a problem.

      I think we need to all keep speaking out, often, ad nauseam, without backing down–nicely yet firmly–about giftedness. It took decades for society to finally stop using the word retarded and instead now use mentally handicapped, autistic or mentally challenged. It took decades for America to finally provide our physically challenged citizens with wheelchair access to buildings and bathrooms, and adequate parking spaces. It may take decades before giftedness is understood, so we have a mountain to move and we all need to get behind it and do our part in any way we can.

      Thanks for sharing your blog–the more information we can get out there, the closer we are to moving that mountain!

  7. Our educational system just can’t handle out-of-the-box kids with the current system in place. Very good points – and I wish all teachers could read this.

    • Our out-of-the-box kids do give our standardized school systems a fit–trying to pound our little square pegs into round holes. Yes, I too wish all teachers could understand our kids!

  8. Hi Celi;

    Thank you for this article. As always, it’s hugely informative and personally helpful.

    As a child, at the age of 11, I was identified as “gifted”; actually, my IQ tested in the top 1% of the population, i.e. a score 4+ standard deviations above average. And anyone who thinks that that is a boast has GOT to be joking. You walk a mile in my shoes, friend, and then tell me it’s such a great thing to be so very gifted. Frankly, it’s not.

    Once I was so identified, I became a real puzzle to my teachers (though I should not have been, if at the same time it had been understood that I’m twice exceptional: gifted but with a neurological disability that makes handwriting a literal pain in the hand). Teachers would almost universally comment on how bright and well-spoken I was in class, yet my written work was terrible. My hand-writing was barely legible (and still is so), and because of the tremendous pain that long periods of handwriting would induce, I took shortcuts and did not write in essays everything I should have. Do remember that I was born in the early 1960s, so I started school in 1969 — historical context: America was still in the thick of the Vietnam war — and typewriters were rare, and personal computers as yet unheard of, let alone thought of.

    They didn’t understand why there was such a gigantic gap between my speaking vs. my writing.

    As a result, I was an average (C to B) student throughout most of my life, ***right up till third year university, when I started writing using the University mainframe computer***. But I am smarter than 99.5% of the population. How do you square that circle?

    I was bullied, needless to say, for two things: firstly for being so very bright in my speech, and yet so very mediocre in my school grades. Yet I am, as I say, smarter than 99.5% of the population. Gifted? Really? What “gift” is it where you not only have students bullying you, but also two teachers in elementary school, and one in high school? That’s no gift, thanks very much.

    Recently when I confided to my very aged father (93 years old) that I wished, when I was a kid, to give up 30 or so IQ points so I could have friends in school (and how pitiable is that?), he chided me, telling me I should not think that way, since many people would be delighted to get an extra 30 IQ points. No, they wouldn’t. not if they had to pay the enormous cost I’ve had to pay in terms of being bullied not only as a child, and adolescent, but as an adult, by bosses, a sibling of a formerly-close friend, and even an entire not-for-profit organization.

    Look, realistically, of course, in and of itself, being gifted is great. I coasted through school with hardly any effort. In my current profession, as an IT specialist (network administrator, sysadmin, tech support specialist and IT troubleshooter) for small and medium businesses, my smarts allowed me to solve problems that had vexed my clients severely, yet I could solve them in a remarkably short time. So yes, in that sense, it’s a gift. What has NOT been a gift is the huge social cost I paid; marginalized at school, bullied, beaten up, physically attacked (in grades 8 and 9), even spat on and crammed into my own locker more than once, hated by some bosses who were monstrously egotistical and yet suffered from severe ego-fragility, mistreated by bosses — and often fellow employees, when I worked in group homes for people with mental handicaps.

    The narcissist/psychopath brother (WM) of my ex-friend CM “suffered” (if you can call it that) a narcissistic injury when he found out from CM that I was a bona-fide “genius”. That couldn’t be. HE was THE genius in his social circle(s). How dare I be a pretender to HIS throne that he did so much to earn, as though one really could earn being a genius, rather than being born into it.

    He (WM) learned from their father that “Genius” means being loved, valued, and to be the center of attention. The father, RM, admired my father (our city in Canada is the 3rd largest, but the Jewish community is nowhere nearly as big as it is in the other larger cities, Toronto and Montreal); they attended the same synagogue, and while my Dad was a top-flight scientist in his field, past-president of the synagogue, and very much a pillar of the Vancouver Jewish community, frankly, RM wasn’t much of anything prominent or famous.

    A book-keeper and just all-around everyman, RM was in awe of, and probably envious of my Dad, and given that he thought how extremely smart my Dad actually is, wrongly conflated the veneration my Dad received as a very well-respected member of the Jewish community with my Dad being a (probable) genius; he did skip his Master’s degree and got his PhD at age 24. So RM thought that genius meant being beloved, and taught his two sons and one daughter that to be a genius means to be beloved by everyone.

    So I was, in being a bona-fide genius — by IQ, not by being beloved — a would-be thief who had to be stopped at any and all costs. WM set about convincing his sister, CM, who herself was not only not a genius, but at the border between average and being mentally handicapped, that I should do several things to make it up to the two of them (actually, just to him; WM is a psychopathic narcissist, remember?).

    How was that to happen, and does it have relevance to giftedness vs. high achievement? To answer the second question first, my own eventual high achievement in university was to be used as a cudgel, a psychic sledgehammer as a weapon to try and force me to surrender my genius “status”. So Giftedness or high achievement is a double-edged sword, at least so in my case.

    CM was made jealous of my high IQ, and WM convinced her that she should force me into giving away my IQ points to her and to her brothers, WM and MM. As though IQ “points” are the same thing as Frequent Flyer Miles, or some such nonsense. to be accumulated and traded away.

    Imagine the advertisement: “Welcome to Petro-Canada! For every 40 liters of Supreme gas you purchase, we’re giving away ONE FREE IQ POINT! Supplies are limited, so come get your IQ points NOW! (Petro-Canada cannot be held responsible for individual stupid actions committed despite the accumulation of IQ points)”.

    I won’t bore you with the details around the main tactic which just involved repeating the same harassing demand against me over and over to wit, that I was to surrender my Genius to WM, and give CM thirty or so IQ points so she could be smart too. Actually, it would have made her IQ become exactly average, at 100, but that’s beside the point.

    Where it came to schooling, we get to the relevant bits. You see, WM graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree, graduating with a B minus average. WM told Cheryl what a phenomenally good average that was. In point of fact, in order to graduate from the University of **’s B.Comm. degree program, **you needed to have a B minus average**. In other words, WM just barely scraped by to graduate, more than likely near the bottom of his class.

    Now, I had done my two undergraduate degrees at Simon Fraser University, which became a weapon against me, and then I went to U**, the same school that WM went to, only I went to do the Guidance Studies Diploma program in the Faculty of Education, trying to qualify to get into U**’s counseling psychology M.A. program.

    WM told CM that the fact that I had graduated as one of the TOP FIVE students in the GSDP program meant nothing. Why? Well, because, it’s in Education, and everyone knows that only the stupidest people go and become Educators (thus insulting my wife, my mother, my ex- and now late sister-in-law, and the ex-girlfriend who attended the GSDP program at the same time as I did, and also finished as one of the top five students in the program, out of some 300 or so students).

    Because my A minus/borderline A average (in GPA terms, 3.95; top GPA in the program was 4.0) was only in Education, and not a “tough” and “manly” topic like Commerce, WM’s GPA equivalent of 2.67 was VASTLY superior to my Education-based 3.95 GPA. And as to the fact that I had completed the Honours program in my Psychology B.A., well, that meant nothing, or so WM told CM, because it was “only” psychology.

    After several years of enduring this non-stop harassment, sometimes for as much as eight hours a day, arguing with CM, from 2010 to 2013, I ended up in the hospital for nine weeks, for what I call exhaustion; I have a medical condition called lymphedema, where my body can’t eliminate lymph fluid from my body quickly, so I gained TWO-HUNDRED POUNDS; in the hospital, when they weighed me, I was nearly 450 lbs., most of that lymph fluid. I have lost, since then, net around 150 lbs., by the way.

    In elementary and high school, I was bullied for being Gifted but NOT a high achiever. In my late forties, I was bullied for being Gifted AND a high achiever.

    I can’t win for losing. What was good becomes bad, and the bad becomes worse. Oh joy.

    Probably out of ignorance combined with an intellectual laziness of having refused to learn what psychologists and education experts on Giftedness actually think giftedness actually is, becomes transmogrified into the reason why so many schools mis-identify their top-achieving students as their gifted students.

    That’s sad, unfortunate, and grossly unfair to people like me and my son, who is also twice-exceptional. He started reading at age THREE, and at three and a half, lived in Mexico with his (Mexican) mother, (my wife), as a result of which he lost almost all his spoken English, and most of his receptive English language skills, then when he came with his Mom back to the USA where he’d been born, he re-taught himself to understand and speak English, in a 100% purely Spanish-speaking household and neighbourhood. Yet when he got to the school system, they diagnosed him as being borderline mentally handicapped. Same as me, when I was roughly his age. How? Only G0d and the Edinburg Texas Independent School Board know why that was so.

    It’s been no bed of roses, no ticker-tape parade, carrying around what is in too many ways a millstone around my neck. The school system only made that worse. And gee, you’d think that in the time from the 1970s to the 2010s, there’d be at least SOME change, right? Wrong.

    Look, I am asking for NO-ONE’S pity or even sympathy, though I don’t mind the latter. I’m in the circumstances I am in partly because of a wide variety of factors, some of which I’ve had some control over, and some not. But no-one who’s gifted should have to go through a school system that passes up the weird little kid in the back who reads entire encyclopedia volumes for pleasure when home, and reads, in grade 6, at a first-year university level, in favour of the girl in the front of the class who was a straight-A student, but who, I can assure you, was nowhere near as bright as me, the kid in the back not paying attention because he’d finished the entire text book for the year in one week. Sorry just doesn’t cut it, Changes have to be made.

    Thanks again for letting me vent, Celi. You’re a G0dsend. Few others would even see a problem, because they’d be focused on my so-called “gift”, and not the very high price for which I’ve had to pay for it.

    • No, thank you, John, for willingly sharing your personal pain and struggles resulting from your profound giftedness AND the fact that society and schools so gravely misunderstood it.

      I know it is not easy for you to bring up such painful memories and the significant effects they’ve had on your life, but you are giving everyone here who reads your story a gift–the gift of future-sight, from your hindsight. You could be saving many gifted families a lot of pain and anguish by sharing your story and letting others know what can happen when giftedness is so misunderstood.

      Your bravery to share your pain is respected and admired, and I and I know all of my readers, are grateful to you for being a constant voice here, speaking out about the downsides of being gifted. If we know what the struggles may be, then we can work to avoid them. Your story serves as a warning for all of us.

      Thank you! And as I’ve said so many times before, I am sincerely grateful for your insights, your willingness to share and your graciousness!

  9. I love this article! You’ve made some fantastic points. This should be required reading for everyone involved in educating children.

  10. Thank you, Celi! This post is a balm to my soul. I just spent the last 3 years trying to make this point at my son’s middle school and, upon graduation from the 8th grade, the principal admitted her daughter and husband are gifted, yet she continually called my son an “enigma” and called us in to explain his grades at least twice a year, even though he was identified as gifted in 4th grade through outside testing.

    Finding out she has her own gifted child was more frustrating than operating on the assumption that she had no idea. I surprised myself and asked if we could stay in touch (we moved our son to a new school for 9th grade). I told her that parents nowadays rarely talk about their child’s giftedness, thanks to stigma and stereotyping and that, in fact, I only have one friend who has admitted she has a gifted child. I probably shouldn’t spend any more energy on it, but I guess I hope that if I can be humble and ask for advice instead of venting my anger, that she might know how vital it is to parents to share the diagnosis and support each other through its struggles. Regardless of the outcome, I am glad I still hope.

    • Sarah,

      Oh my gosh. I know exactly how you feel because I walked in your shoes, or you walked in mine. In 8th grade, we had the EXACT same thing happen to our son–grades weren’t up to “high-achieving” standards with continual conferences, and the principal called my son an “anomaly”and was curious how he would turn out in the future. For her, gifted children could be quirky, but should always have excellent grades and behavior. That’s when I started writing and advocating. Hopefully, my son’s principal from 8th grade who called him an anomaly has read my writings and now understands: “being gifted is often not the same as being high-achieving!”

      Yes, there is hope as long as we all keep speaking up and sharing the facts about giftedness!

      Thanks for writing and all the best to you, Sarah!

    • It’s interesting that so many people talk about the “stigma” around discussing one’s children’s giftedness, if they are indeed so “blessed” (it’s a mixed blessing to be sure). In my ethno-religious community, as a Jew, I see that there’s rarely a stigma attached. if anything, it’s actually kind of an expectation, rather than a negative.

      When I was in Jewish “Sunday school”, I wasn’t bullied for being smart, but rather for being weird, which was, admittedly, an off-shoot, if you will, of being gifted.

      My father, who grew up in a 95% Jewish neighbourhood in Toronto in the 1930s and 1940s, and went to a 99% Jewish (but public) school, had it even better. He never was bullied; to the contrary, when he became class valedictorian, the girls flocked to him.

      That didn’t happen to anyone I knew as or suspected of being gifted. Roy G., who graduated from my first high school as class valedictorian, got a punch in the head as his reward by the drug-dealing gangster elder brother of one of Roy’s classmates. What FUN! Oh, Joy!

      Sorry, but I think it’s bizarre that among the mainstream culture in the USA and Canada, giftedness is seen as an “enigma” at best, or a severe DISability, as it was in my case, at the worst. Yet among Jews and certain East Asian cultures, giftedness and being learned are seen as social positives, which may go a long way to explain why one tenth of one percent of the world’s population (i.e., Jews) wins 40% of the Nobel Prizes in the world.

      It sounds very frustrating. You want the best for your children, The school system wants to turn out intellectual cardboard cutouts. Someone — and it’s not you — isn’t getting the right idea out of giftedness.

      My son is just such an enigma too. He’s likely twice exceptional with both learning disabilities and giftedness, but the school system and even some educational specialists just don’t know how to deal with him.

      So sorry that’s happened to your child too.

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