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Parenting, Preschool, School Years, Teens

Gifted is Not Always a Gift

When we hear the word “gifted” we usually think of someone who is extremely intelligent, has remarkable talents or an unusually high IQ. Most people think of being gifted as, well, a gift. It certainly is, to some extent. You learn new information quickly and easily. You pick up new skills with ease. You excel in several, if not most, areas of your life. But being gifted is incredibly difficult and comes with a variety of issues and complications that are rarely observed or addressed. It’s not always a gift.

I come from a family of extremely intelligent and talented people going back several generations. They accomplished world-renowned feats in science, art and education. These talents have been passed down for several generations now. My biological mother graduated medical school and college simultaneously. I was considered gifted and earned multiple awards and scholarships, graduating from high school early. Now I have one son who doesn’t meet the state’s criteria, but has all the intelligence and talents. And I have another son who has met the state criteria and is struggling to get an education.

Image by kaswenden via Flickr

Image by kaswenden via Flickr

It may sound odd that a gifted child would struggle to get an education. You’d think that because learning is so easy, school would be easy too. School has been awful. He is bored senseless. He has no idea what it feels like to actually learn something because information just gets absorbed immediately. He doesn’t know how to take notes or study. He doesn’t need to. He is not allowed to work ahead in class or even draw pictures or read when he’s bored. He must not “be a distraction to the other students.” Occasionally, he will be allowed to teach the other kids. But rarely, if ever, is he challenged in any way. He just tries to get through each day as best he can.

This is a tragedy and unbelievably unfair. Why should this child have to spend his entire life going to school to do nothing? Is he not entitled to an education?

People will argue that giftedness is contrived or too difficult to measure. Parents of gifted children will tell you that is not true. These kids learn differently. They learn quickly, across many spectrums. My 12-year-old was drawing by the time he could sit. When he was 1 ½ years old, he could draw a recognizable person with head, body, legs, arms, face and hair. Both kids taught themselves to read by 4 years old. Both kids have taught themselves to play multiple instruments including piano, drums, guitar and bass. They both sit second chair in orchestra for violin, despite the fact that they never practice and have never had a single lesson. Both pick up world languages with ease and little assistance. Any parent of a gifted child will tell you, these kids learn differently and at a different pace.

Gifted education needs to be placed on par with other special education services.

These kids have special needs. We would never ignore children whose learning styles caused them to lag behind. We offer them specialized and individualized services to attend to their needs. Why are we ignoring the other end of the learning spectrum? Gifted kids learn rapidly and yet we expect them to sit still and learn nothing more than what their peers are able to master. This simply does meet their needs.

By ignoring their needs, we are creating terrible problems.

A gifted child who is not consistently challenged does not have the opportunity to feel the process of learning—what it feels like to work through a problem, to work at mastering a concept, to hit bumps in the road of understanding or to fail and then recover. At some point in the child’s life, their ability to absorb information will be challenged by the information they are asked to understand. But without the skills of learning, they are handicapped. Many gifted kids give up, frustrated and feeling stupid or overwhelmed, at some point in their educational career.

Gifted kids need to know they are not perfect.

Many gifted kids are accomplished in so many areas of their lives, they assume that this is normal and expected. When they face something they are not immediately able to master, they can incorrectly believe they are a failure. This is a direct result of a lack of challenge in their lives. It’s improper thinking but how would the child know any different? You would think that being great at so many things would make you feel good. For most gifted kids, it doesn’t. To them, that’s just normal and how things go. It’s imperative they experience frustration and the art of perseverance to understand that perfection is not normal nor to be expected.

Gifted kids can end up feeling like the invisible citizens of their world.

No one seems to care about their needs in school. If they are bored, they must sit still and be quiet. If they already know the material, they can help the other kids. Even if they’ve proved that they’ve mastered the material, they still must do the homework, because that is simply the policy. Where does the gifted child come into play in all this? What about his needs? When does he get to learn something? When does he get to be challenged? Why is it that jumping through hoops and helping the teacher run a better classroom all that matters? Doesn’t he matter?

I have no idea how to change the school system. I see people dismissing the needs of gifted children, or even their very existence. I try to convince my kids’ teachers to accommodate them, but they won’t always agree. I watch as my son rebels against this assault on his dignity and refuses to do homework. I have to make him do it. I don’t know what else to do.

I can’t change the school but I can offer him the opportunity to learn, at home, the most important skill he’s lacking: the process and joy of learning.

I discovered Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC’s) and signed him up. These are free online classes offered through universities around the world. So far, he is pulling a B in his college-level computer programming class. He is 12.

This experience has helped him tremendously. He has worked through anxiety related to not being able to instantly absorb information. He has figured out strategies for solving problems if he can’t figure it out the first time. He has learned that grades are relevant to the material presented and the difficulty of the class. (although he still felt a lot better about his 99 and 86 than he did about his two C’s.) We keep talking about the process of learning and the joy that brings. He has come a long way from having near panic attacks when he first started to being able to discuss a moment of frustration and develop a strategy to get through it. He is very proud of himself.

He is no longer afraid of moments when he doesn’t understand something. He is learning that learning is, and should be, a process.

Fortunately, we are almost to high school. At least in high school, we have the option to selectively move up to higher-level classes. My boys have been waiting for this opportunity their entire lives. But isn’t it a shame they have had to wait for so long? Shouldn’t school be a joy throughout childhood?

If you have a gifted child, keep focused on your child’s needs. Don’t underestimate her ability to “do it on her own.” She needs your guidance. Advocate for her the best you can. If you don’t have a gifted child, please don’t overlook these children. Please don’t tell yourself or others that these kids don’t need us or their schools. They ARE getting left behind and they need our help. They are special kids with special needs. It’s time we all start treating them that way. Every child deserves a quality education. Even the gifted child.

©UnnecessaryWisdom.wordpress.com 2013

What are your thoughts on gifted children and education? 



73 thoughts on “Gifted is Not Always a Gift

  1. Awesome post! I can’t even begin to put into words the struggles in my own life brought on by being “gifted”. It’s nice to see this perspective being voiced.

    Posted by jackscrunchymama | May 19, 2013, 10:55 pm
  2. My I share this on my blog?

    Posted by jackscrunchymama | May 19, 2013, 10:55 pm
    • I’m honored! Just the usual linkback/credit is all I ask. 😉 I’m glad you could relate to this. I was a gifted child, too. I just never really understood what it meant or why I struggled at times. No one explained anything to me. It was really downplayed or sometimes even punished. But at least I was allowed to amuse myself. Gifted has been my normal so I haven’t paid much attention to it, you know?

      Posted by unnecessarywisdom | May 20, 2013, 6:29 am
  3. Reblogged this on The Red Elm and commented:
    Good read.

    Posted by theredelm | May 20, 2013, 2:05 pm
  4. (Not judging) but why didn’t you homeschool them?

    Posted by Mrs. Warde | May 20, 2013, 2:40 pm
    • By the time it really started to become an issue, I was divorced and had to work full-time. I don’t have any judgments against those who homeschool, but I don’t think I would choose it even if I could. I was homeschooled for about 3 years and I was incredibly lonely. It was a solution to me being “too advanced” for private school. I liked the material but I hated the social isolation. When I was his age and younger, my teachers at least allowed me to do my homework or read during class. His won’t. That’s what frustrates me the most. It’s one thing to not teach him, it’s another to force him to sit there doing absolutely nothing.

      Posted by unnecessarywisdom | May 20, 2013, 3:03 pm
      • Also not judging – I understand that homeschooling is not a viable choice for everyone, and you are clearly fighting for your kids and supplementing their schooling, but please don’t perpetuate the stereotype that homeschooling is socially isolating. I’m sorry it was for you, but it doesn’t have to be. I’m homeschooling two gifted teens, and they learn and play with friends every day.

        Posted by mamastrauss | May 21, 2013, 12:55 am
        • I realize this is a sensitive issue for homeschoolers and I’m so sorry if I offended you. I fully believe that homeschooling is a wonderful and valid choice for many children and their families. I would never suggest that my personal experience translates to every child. The accusation that all homeschooled children MUST be socially isolated reflects a lack of information on how homeschooling works and the many, many benefits and options available to these children. My siblings were homeschooled for most of their lives and I have several friends who either were homeschooled or do homeschool. I support your choice and believe you completely that your children are happy and engaged. I’ve seen it in action! I was only trying to explain my own personal experience and how that influences my decisions for my kids. No judgment here at all 🙂

          Posted by unnecessarywisdom | May 21, 2013, 7:07 am
  5. Look. I think there is still a slow transition of people who grew up without computers and those that have. Even before our parents (who are grandparents now) were growing up, they were tantalized with the idea that the year 2000 would be the future, but you know what? It didn’t happen. Not because the technology wasn’t there but because it was held back by politics and the state of mind that did not embrace these things, until the last five or six years, we hadn’t really made much effort to ‘think’ like we are living in the ’21st century’.

    What I mean to say it that, we should think on those terms of home schooling and make use of the learning programs through technology. The student can learn at their own pace and not have to be bogged down by others. many might also say that this will hinder their social development. But that problem can be solved too, but it’s not important to this topic.

    I would like to see this happen more because there are measures being put into place that dictate the school system and it affects students on a massive scale. Parents have to keep up with the updates and take part in the school if they want to be considered a responsible parent, but they also take it upon themselves to parent the child for you, so there are hints of bureaucratic fascism in the school system… would that be schoolscism?

    Posted by Zoe Dune | May 20, 2013, 3:10 pm
  6. I am at this very moment in the process of trying to get my HG daughter accelerated in a district that tends to not do it. She was forced into Transitional Kindergarten by the new Nov 1 cutoff date in CA. When I learned this I was devastated b/c I knew she was ready for K. But I didn’t have the evidence or know what to look for in the code, to make any cogent arguments other than “she’s a bright kid.” Well now I have an IQ test and achievement testing (working two grade levels above), both done by an independent party, and I see the work she’s doing in school. She has far exceeded the K curriculum, which I know for a fact b/c my son is in K at the same school. I want the school to put her in first grade from TK, not into K. Her principal and the GATE coordinator told me that the state simply “doesn’t allow it.” I showed our brand new superintendent (who has an open mind and has not dealt with this issue since he arrived in Sept) evidence to the contrary, including specific citations that state that acceleration is left up to the digression of the local district. I even showed our brand new superintendent a passage from our very own district’s code that states “the superintendent” can decide if a child should be accelerated! My daughter’s teacher also gives me the party line b/c she doesn’t understand how these kids are. She tells me her confidence is soaring now, why would I want to push her and force her to grow up, and she helps the other kids in class. Ugh to all these comments!! I have received notice that the school pysch will observe my daughter in class and we will have a team meeting. I have a glimmer of hope but certainly in no way do I feel it’s a done deal. The GATE coordinator is so dang by the book I’m afraid she’s paying lip service b/c I went to the Superintendent, and I anticipate she will try and thwart this. May I please hand them a copy of your article?!?

    Posted by jlbtcs | May 20, 2013, 3:30 pm
    • I’m so sorry you are dealing with this. I actually went through this identical struggle with my older son. He missed the cut-off for kindergarten and continued at his co-op nursery school. I was pressured to keep him with his same-age peers for fears of “social-emotional” problems in middle school. What happened instead is all of his friends are a year or two older and he spent the first 3 years of elementary school frustrated and bored. He finally dumbed down so he wouldn’t get in trouble. Advocate for her. Do what you feel is best. Of course you may print my article. I certainly hope it helps. Good luck to you and your daughter! ~Zoe

      Posted by unnecessarywisdom | May 20, 2013, 4:11 pm
      • I am anticipating all of the typical reasons the school will give me as to why she shouldn’t be accelerated and I feel comfortable answering most of them. But one thing I won’t know how to deal with is if they give me some pushback about “other kids.” There are a few other parents who are asking about moves from TK to 1st. I don’t specifically know who they are and the details of who there children are as learners. (My daughter’s teacher kind of mentioned it in passing.) But if the school tells me that accelerating my daughter might open the door for others to ask, any ideas how I should respond diplomatically??

        Posted by jlbtcs | May 20, 2013, 4:31 pm
        • Well, I think that if the district determines that acceleration is, in fact, in the best interests of your child, then what may or may not be in the best interests of other children should not factor into that decision, especially when promoting her does no harm to those other students. It is up to the district to do their due diligence in creating and maintaining protocols for acceleration and not an individual parent. The district has the ability to accelerate a child when appropriate and beneficial and refuse a similar request when doing so would be harmful. That is not your responsibility, nor should your child suffer for years because they are worried about what “other parents might do.” I would kindly remind them that it is their responsibility to ensure the proper education of EVERY child, including acceleration, even if that means dealing with a backlash of other parents. They can handle it. They just don’t want to. And I say that with kindness. It’s not that they are mean-spirited. They just don’t want more work than necessary.

          Posted by unnecessarywisdom | May 20, 2013, 5:38 pm
          • My meeting with the school and the district was yesterday. And it’s official!! My daughter will be going into first grade next year. I can hardly believe it. They didn’t even give me much push back. While the team in the meeting engaged in a very thorough discussion about all of the factors, there was no hesitation by the time our meeting ended. I don’t know that this one move will take care of her needs for the rest of her schooling – in fact I am sure it won’t. But it is a huge step in the right direction and now the district knows my daughter and that she has special needs of her own. Once she gets into the higher grades, even in elementary, they do have programs in place for the more advanced kids and she’s certainly not the only HG child to go through that district, so perhaps with a combo of things we might be able to make it work. Thank you for your support. FYI – the issue of other families did not even come up.

            Posted by jlbtcs | May 23, 2013, 1:07 pm
            • Oh wow! Congratulations!! You did it! I’m so happy for you and your daughter. What a lucky little girl you have 🙂 I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to hear that you successfully advocated for her. Your success is truly inspirational. Keep it up! She’s going to have a great school career. ❤ Zoe

              Posted by unnecessarywisdom | May 23, 2013, 2:48 pm
  7. This is my son you are talking about. Taught himself to read, multiple instruments and a real math nut. I know what this is like. When I went to college, I had no clue how to study because I had never had to even open a book. Now I see the same thing happening to my son. The math is the most frustrating. At a charter school for 2nd and 3rd grade, a wonderful math coordinator freely accelerated him and said he would be ready for pre-algebra in 4th. Unfortunately there also were severe bullying problems and we had to leave. Now in 5th grade, he is forced to sit through 5th grade math he had two years ago because they “don’t believe” in acceleration. It makes me crazy. All he wants is to learn. And homeschooling is not an option for me either .
    I am definitely going to look into the MOOC for him. He would love computer programming.

    Posted by Kathy | May 20, 2013, 3:41 pm
    • I hope your son can find a way to make school work for him. I wish our schools would accommodate these kids. At least the MOOCs are free and there are so many to choose from. Maybe he can take math AND computer programming! 🙂

      Posted by unnecessarywisdom | May 20, 2013, 4:20 pm
  8. Such a great post. Thank you.

    Posted by Latha Srinivasan | May 20, 2013, 4:28 pm
  9. I could cry right now…you are speaking about me about my life…thank you ever ever so much…

    Posted by C A | May 20, 2013, 4:42 pm
  10. I could completely relate to this post. I was immensely bored in school during my childhood and my daughter is going through the exact same thing. Gifted students are just expected to make straight A’s and come equipped with a drive to succeed. This isn’t always true. Some people need encouragement to develop a drive to succeed, and being forced to remain quiet and bored does not foster it. These children are in danger of growing into underachieving gifted adults. To me, that’s just a waste. We don’t know what these children are capable of. If we don’t give them every opportunity to explore the possibility of their potential, then we may never know, and we may end up ignoring the person who would have cured AIDS or cancer, or someone who would have discovered a form of space travel that allows us to see the galaxy in a single lifetime.

    Posted by J. Spears | May 20, 2013, 6:55 pm
  11. Terrific post. And then there are those kids who are “doubly blessed” who need both special education supports AND accelerated academics. That’s a whole ‘nother world to navigate!

    Posted by Erika | May 20, 2013, 9:45 pm
  12. I want to read this to my school board! This is exactly how so many parents in our district feel! If I speed read it to them, I might get it all in during my two minute allotment. Maybe I could have a couple of parents attend and one could continue where the other left off until we get through it all. I was fortunate that someone introduced me to Connections Academy so that he could move at his own pace. Had I had time to do real home schooling, He could have progressed in so much more than just math. I was going to have him do some online Biology classes, and he smartly said, “but Mom, if I do that, I’ll just be bored in HS.” (He’s going back to brick & mortar for HS.)

    As the president of our local parent support group, I hear so many stories from frustrated parents & we are all going through this. Thank you so much for putting our feelings into words!

    Posted by Bonnie | May 20, 2013, 11:42 pm
    • Bonnie, it’s hard to explain how it feels to know that you can relate to my story. Thank you for your kind words. Good luck with your son and keeping him challenged. It is so difficult! Maybe if he is too advanced in high school, you could look at dual enrollment? I think we may be headed in that direction. I hope the board meeting goes well!! ~Zoe

      Posted by unnecessarywisdom | May 21, 2013, 7:21 am
  13. From one mom of a 12-year old struggling through the system to another, I offer support and good wishes. We’ve been in and out of the school system for years, trying to create a better scenario. I’ve blogged about it, if it helps. And I hope you either are involved in or at least know about the Davidson Institute Young Scholars Program. It provides awesome support for families of gifted kids trying to do what’s best!

    Posted by gwynridenhour | May 20, 2013, 11:47 pm
    • Thank you for your support. It may sound odd, but because I grew up gifted, surrounded by gifted parents and siblings, I really have been quite ignorant on how to handle this. In other words, my kids were just normal. While I provided my kids with an educational environment at home, I only knew to teach them to cope with boredom at school and not much more. That was the most that had been offered to me. I had never heard of the Davidson Institute YS Program until a couple of days ago. I’m definitely going to begin to learn more about how to support my children (and myself.) 😉

      Posted by unnecessarywisdom | May 21, 2013, 7:16 am
  14. I went through all of these same things, though I was lucky enough to attend a private school where teachers were more inclined to let me do my own thing. By middle school, however, I struggled immensely socially. There were two programs which saved me. One was the ADVANCE Program for Young Scholars, a satellite program of the Duke TIP program. I attended for three summers, before 8th, 9th and 10th grade, and it was amazing. It led to me attending the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts for the last two years of high school. I made friends at both programs I still keep in regular touch with today. I now work for ADVANCE (this will be my 12th year) because I want to give back to other kids like myself. I wish gifted students did not have to seek opportunities outside of their schools systems, but I am so glad those opportunities are out there!

    Posted by Celia M. | May 21, 2013, 7:58 am
  15. I love this article for a couple of reasons. First, I was one of the students who didn’t have to learn to learn, study, take notes, etc because simply by being present for the lectures in high school, I memorized the material and could regurgitate it easily for the exams. College was a borderline failure because of this. I did above average but only because I recovered the last 2 years after finally learning how to study.

    Secondly, I have an advanced student as well. We moved half-way through this year from a school where students could work at their own pace in their math and science classes to a school that has NO gifted program and no inclination to help a gifted student. I had to fight with the principal to allow my 7th grader into Algebra (which he had been taking). He agreed with a dire warning that he’d be keeping an eye on Justin and would pull him if he wasn’t cutting it. Well, he’s getting an A and just aced his last exam with a 100%. The other kids in his algebra class (8th graders) are being moved up to honors geometry. Justin is being placed in remedial geometry because it’s the only one that will fit into his schedule next year. He’s also being made to repeat a science class he took last year because it’s the class all 8th graders take and they’ve refused to let him take biology.

    This is not serving students. This is clipping their wings so they fit into a box created by the school. We are pulling all of the children (three currently in school and one that will be starting kindergarten next year) to home school. Justin will be moving onto a freshman curriculum instead of an 8th grade one. My sophomore will have the opportunity to study what interests him. My 6th grader won’t get lost in the shuffle (extremely bright but very unorganized ADHD child) and my kindergartener will hopefully never have to conform to standards set by a district lacking programs, funds, and teachers.

    Posted by Melisa | May 21, 2013, 9:14 am
  16. Thank you for this article! We struggle with our gifted daughter with the “boredom” in school. We switched her to a small Catholic school where the class size was smaller and the teachers weren’t impeded by standardized tests (which in my community, is pretty much what drives teaching/curriculum). The thought was that she’d get a little more attention and not restricted to the material being taught. It hasn’t worked out as expected but I still think it’s a little better than what we had. She is in 5th grade now and understands that she has to “tread water” until 7th grade where she’s applying to a middle school specializing in gifted kids.
    The point in this article about the learning process is so spot on. She never has homework because she completes it in class but she has massive test anxiety because she thinks she should get 100 every time. She’s so nervous to not get a 100, that she makes silly mistakes. She’s not learning any study skills or “how to learn”, as mentioned in the article. I’m really excited to explore those online courses.

    Posted by Anonymous | May 21, 2013, 11:38 am
    • Oh, the treading water until some later day is just so sad for our kids. At least she’s in a better school than before! Yes, learning how to learn came as a big shock to me so much later in life. I wanted my kids to figure it out before the stakes were too high. Let me know if you like the MOOCs or find any other online options! ~Zoe

      Posted by unnecessarywisdom | May 21, 2013, 1:34 pm
  17. This is EXACTLY what I went through from k-12. I was never challenged in my classes. I would always sit in the back and read books, and then I would get yelled at for not paying attention. I never learned how to study, or how to spread out work over a period of time- procrastination is my middle name. My parents would complain to the school district every single semester that I needed to be challenged, and all they were ever told was “wait until she gets to high school.”

    However, by the time I got to high school, three things happened as a result of my boredom in class for the past 8 years: 1) when I was finally in classes that challenged me, I didn’t know how to study for them. Most importantly, I never learned how to ask questions; 2) I spent so much time being ignored by my teachers while they worked with the other students that I lost respect for my classmates. Working on group projects was extremely difficult because I didn’t trust other students’ work to be up to par with my own simply because we had different learning speeds; 3) schoolwork became so tedious and useless, that I would refuse to do certain assignments because they were quite clearly just busy work and they weren’t important to me. I gave up on the system that never considered my needs as a student.

    I was so desperate to be challenged that I took AP Calculus for the AB exam, which counts as calculus 1, for fun and then simultaneously did the BC exam material- calculus 2- as an independent study.

    I’m a rising senior at the University of Michigan and I still don’t know how to study properly. I still don’t know how to ask questions, or even how to work well with my classmates. When I’m faced with challenges in my coursework, I become frustrated easily. The public school system has really hindered my learning abilities. I sincerely hope that by the time I have children, the system will celebrate gifted students instead of considering them a burden.

    Posted by beentheredonethat | May 21, 2013, 5:14 pm
    • I went through a lot of the same stuff. It hurts to see you going through this. I didn’t figure out my learning style until I went back to college as an adult. All I can really say is don’t just stick with “typical” studying. Try anything and everything. Figure out what kind of learning really feels fun to you and go for it. As an example, I figured out I hated textbooks but loved research. So I never even bought textbooks. I just researched every topic I needed to know. I also really liked interacting with the material. So I formed study groups and we did Q+A sessions for hours until we had all mastered the material. It worked for me. Sitting by myself just highlighting words was so boring I couldn’t do it. Keep trying to find your style. ❤ Zoe

      Posted by unnecessarywisdom | May 22, 2013, 5:14 am
  18. Reblogged this on The Metal Sheep that Sings.

    Posted by munchkinmeep | May 21, 2013, 11:02 pm
  19. You articulated what I’ve been feeling for the last two years (my son is 7). I find it so difficult to express that he needs help, too, because so many folks think giftedness is a “good problem to have.” But I know first-hand that the accompanying overexcitabilities (and anxieties, etc.) are NOT always a gift. Thankfully, our school is working with us, and I’m excited to see what the next school-year brings. Thank you for this post.

    Posted by Julia Weston | May 22, 2013, 6:15 am
    • Yes, Julia, it’s so frustrating sometimes. I feel badly for my sons because I have largely bought into the idea that they should just put up with school. My early efforts to advocate and make changes were largely ignored. Occasionally a teacher will help. But teachers are seriously overburdened. You are incredibly lucky to have a school that is working with you. Don’t give up! As I’m realizing, our kids really, really need us to ensure they have a challenging curriculum.

      Posted by unnecessarywisdom | May 23, 2013, 2:33 pm
  20. Too true. I hated being gifted. I wasn’t given direction and my parents assumed I would understand everything. When I did struggle I was embarrassed and didn’t ask for help – I was ‘told’ I was too smart to need help (not explicitly, this is something I, in my naivete, inferred.) My senior year of high school I discovered the best school ever (http://www.roeper.org/) and was finally 1) challenged and 2) taught to ask for help. Unfortunately I was only able to attend a year because I found it too late.
    If only all gifted children were given the same opportunities to learn….

    Posted by Heidi | May 22, 2013, 7:20 am
  21. Ugh…. it’s like reading this article caused me to experience junior high again. Elementary was okay, because most of the teachers would leave me alone to read when I finished my work or would let me work on another project of my own choosing. Not with junior high – I had to do everything at the same time as everyone else and “help” other kids who didn’t understand. First of all – not my job. Secondly, I didn’t know how to explain it to them because I just “knew”.

    High school wasn’t much better – after being dressed down by the teacher for “working ahead” in Geometry (I hadn’t – I had actually combined two theorems on my own to make another one), I pretty much shut down and just did what I had to in order to graduate. At that point, I refused to go to college (who wants more of that crap? I liked to know things and go into depth with my studies, not sit around waiting for everyone else to get it). I went into the military, learned things at my own pace and took a breather. I did end up going to college – I wish that I could say that it was different, but those professors were few and far between. Most of them spent half the semester reteaching stuff that had been learned in the prerequisites. Ummm… isn’t that why they’re prerequisites? Because it’s assumed that we know everything in them?

    The only bright side? I became a teacher because I was determined to do better by kids. The bad part? I can’t do it in the public school system because I wouldn’t be allowed to – I was told that I’d have to teach the same lessons on the same days as the rest of the department, whether my kids were ready to move on or not. So, I’m in private education, but I never hold group members accountable for the failures of others in their groups and I don’t have my gifted kids serving as mini-teachers – they move on and work on things that interest them.

    Frankly, if I had my own children, I’d look strongly into homeschooling or getting them into a magnet school that met their needs.

    Posted by Cynthia W | May 22, 2013, 10:44 am
    • It’s so frustrating to hear your story, Cynthia. I hate that child after child has experienced this same “education.” Then you try to fix it and you can’t. My heart breaks that I can’t provide a better education for my kids. I just don’t have the resources. I can only hope that things will get better bit by bit.

      Posted by unnecessarywisdom | May 23, 2013, 2:42 pm
  22. Boarding school is another option that extremely gifted children can explore (Choate, etc.).

    Posted by Anonymous | May 22, 2013, 8:10 pm
  23. My son, Boomer, is gifted in the area of music. His teachers and the Head of School, at a private school, recognized this and offered him the opportunity to develop a self-directed study for his senior year. I believe that this approach is the way all high school education should progress. To acquire his language credits, he is working with a professional songwriter. To acquire his math credits, he’s studying advanced music theory with a college professor, etc. This allows him to travel the world as a musician and producer and to fulfill his high school credits. In the world. we all play to our strengths. I believe that’s what should be encouraged in high school. With so many on-line resources available, school–public and private–need to address the individual’s needs and passions.

    Posted by Julia Bate, Certified Statement Analyst | November 14, 2013, 12:52 pm
  24. This is oh-so-very much my experience with my boys in school. It was painful, and they begged me daily to homeschool them. (I wasn’t prepared to do that.) We were fortunate to be able to send them to a different school that was responsive to their needs. At the end of his first day of school at the new school, one exclaimed excitedly, “Mommy! They don’t stop me from learning here!” This post reminded me of his words. It is sad that there are so many schools that actively keep students from learning.

    Posted by Kimberly | November 16, 2013, 6:01 pm
  25. I need to print this out and have it with me when I come across people who just don’t ‘get’ what it means. I have yet to come across such a beautifully complete post! I would love to share it on my blog – but I’ve never done this and am not sure how…?

    Posted by Jennifer Charboneau | November 16, 2013, 9:59 pm
  26. Thank you for writing this, its spot on, you don’t know me, but you “get” me 😉

    Posted by kathleenglossop | November 17, 2013, 6:46 am
  27. Reblogged this on Modern Homeschooling and commented:
    Too great not to share…

    Posted by Jennifer Charboneau | November 18, 2013, 8:03 pm
  28. Thank you, this is completely how I feel too and some days its hard to know if we are doing the best right thing or the best for our child.

    Posted by Elesha Burkart | September 8, 2014, 4:40 pm
  29. Is there no gifted and talented program at their schools? I was part of a gifted and talented program throughout elementary and middle school that made such a difference in my life! I had a dynamic teacher who understood gifted children and allowed us to learn, make mistakes, and be creative. Of course, this all stopped when I got to high school, and we were given “gifted and talented” status based on our grades. I quickly lost mine because I was bored in English class and didn’t want to do the assignments.

    Posted by polutropa | September 11, 2014, 11:52 am
    • Could you please make a post about how you struggle in your professional life. I want to hear about the TAG adults and the problems they have in the professional world. I would like you to complete a survy I’m conduciting regarding said topic. Please emal me your personal email address.

      Posted by Tracy Warren | September 11, 2014, 4:47 pm


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