Originally Posted by mijumom
If any of you think that a child being conscious of being labeled and referred to as gifted does not create a sense of conditional appreciation of that child and a preoccupation with living up to that title and an awareness that their value is tied to that distinction, well, then we are just not speaking the same language. I can see the difference in my son when I just say he's "good" at something in front of him; the pressure is on to deliver.
I stumbled onto this thread by accident, but I've read the whole thing. I guess I just filter these kinds of discussions through my own experience (what else can you do?) - and my experience is that of having been a so-called "gifted" child - which, yes, pretty much implies "more gifted than others/better than others". And any child, high IQ or no, "gets" that. Whether it's them being called gifted or their brother or the kid down the street. And it can have a profound effect on how kids value themselves.
Whenever I was in a situation where people were talking about my "giftedness", how "special" I was, I experienced two things. 1) A giddy feeling like butterflies in my stomach - I AM SPECIAL! I am BETTER. It was a kind of joy, a relief. I MEASURE UP. 2) A deep pang of anxiety that made me have to pee. WHAT IF IT'S A MISTAKE. BUT THEY DON'T KNOW ABOUT X ('X' being anything I might have done/said recently that in my mind contradicted their judgment of me as 'gifted'). WHAT IF I CAN'T DO IT. WHAT IF I LET THEM DOWN.
Let me clarify, I wasn't a kid whose parents "pushed" them. I taught myself to read, no one taught me. My parents were also not big on "labels" and they actually kept me in a substandard public school when I had a scholarship possibility at a private school because they didn't want me growing up in some rarefied atmosphere among other supposedly "gifted" (and rich) kids. I agree with CB that ALL kids need appropriate challenges. But the labelling? Totally and Completely Unnecessary and Counterproductive in my opinion and experience.
So...so I read at 2. And did math early, and had a huge vocabulary, and wrote stories and music at a young age, yadda yadda. Everyone was so. damn. impressed with me. EVEN THOUGH my parents consciously tried to shield me from it. Once you realize that adults think you are cooler than the other kids because you can do x, y, and z...it's really hard to go back to being an unselfconscious kid.
Fast-forward, and I had a miserable miserable school experience. I was bullied. I withdrew. I refused to make A's. I almost dropped out of high school. I did "bad things" and rebelled. I did get into college (test scores saved me) but immediately dropped out. It took me 8 years to get through a B.A. I had no study skills, having always relied on my, um, "gifts", but I also had no self-esteem. I'm still a really troubled person in some ways, with a lot of anxiety about who I actually AM, and I trace this directly back to the expectations (stated and unstated) placed upon me as a young child. Even at age 6 or 7 I reminisced about being 2 or 3 again and not realizing I was "different". I have spent most of the past 20+ years fighting so hard against a label and all that came with it that, paradoxically, no one would pick me out as "gifted" these days. I don't write better, read better, speak better, or function better than my peers. In fact, I do a lot worse in the functioning department than most of them.
I'm not writing this to say, hey, nanny nanny boo boo, you think your kid is so gifted, well, they're actually on the road to depression and alienation! Not at all. It's just my experience, and I know many "gifted" individuals who transcended the label or thrived despite it. But I also know other people like me. And there is a big big DANGER, imo, to embracing the "gifted" label instead of being more specific and descriptive as Dar and others have advocated. "GIFTED" tells you NOTHING about what makes a person valuable. But when kids hear themselves evaluated positively, compared favorably to other kids, when they feel that giddy feeling knowing that they have managed to please adults immensely without meaning to - it sets up a very unhealthy dynamic which can be hard to escape.
I remember reaching a point in early adulthood when it finally, and profoundly, dawned on me that everyone has gifts, and everyone has deficits. EVERYONE.
For a supposedly "gifted" person I was surprisingly naive. I really bought into the whole hierarchical thing, that there was always an "elite" who naturally rose to the top. Blecccccccchhhhhhhh.
OK, I could go on, but this thread really struck a chord with me. I just really don't like the gifted label. I do think that an appropriate education should challenge the child wherever they are at, of course. But IMO there is never reason to do an IQ test or to talk about "reading at an X grade level", "math at an X grade level". Just a note on the math thing, my DH, who does math for a living (he's an astrophysicist), grew up in Greece where all
children learn algebra starting at age 7 or 8. Not just the gifted ones. He was NOT labeled gifted and he turned out OK, academically. It really isn't necessary to know that you're smarter than others, because half the time it isn't even true, and even if it is, what do you do with that information?