I know I said I was leaving this thread, but I am sitting on my hands trying not to type. If you'll humor me, I'm popping back in because I think I have an analogy that might work here, wrt nature vs nurture, linear development, accomodations, etc.
People are born with a genetic range of potential height; nurture then plays a powerful role in determining if the person will reach their genetic potential. I think IQ is like that. Neglect or a very poor educational experience, for example, can keep a person from growing within their genetic potential for (er...we haven't agreed on a term here, have we?) IQ. OTOH, a very nurturing home and the right sort of encouragement can help a person absolutely thrive and hit the ceiling of their genetic potential. The differences in humans in terms of IQ (i.e. the "ceiling") is not very significant at all. Everyone is good at something and we all have different talents. But you have a few on either side of the curve who are very different, i.e. more than 2 std deviations from the norm.
Everyone wants their kid to be tall, it seems like. But when they say they want their kid to be tall, or that being tall runs in their family, they generally don't mean 7 feet tall. People seem to want their sons to be 6 ft, you know, a little above average, comfortably tall, if you will. Once you get past 6 ft 4 and maybe 5 ft 10 for girls, people get kind of uncomfortable with that. Intellectually gifted is a status that many people seem to want and revere, but again, they don't mean like a child doing calculus in elementary. They want their kids to be comfortably smart, a little "smarter" than expected, like the mental equivalent of 6 ft tall, not 7ft tall because that just seems too odd. Once you get into the territory of being 7 ft tall or having an IQ in what pyschologists term the "highly gifted" range, it gets awkward and different accomodations must be made or the person suffers. No one really wants their kid to suffer or go through life being really really different, but we obsess over the idea of "gifted" because it seems to describe having gifts and blessings, being well-liked and successful, basically being the 6 ft tall equiv,...when in fact, a better term needs to be created to describe someone who is 2 std deviations above the norm. Also, I think that it's hard for many people to conceive of someone being 2 std deviations above the norm, because we always hear about these 6 ft tall men and how wonderful it is to be 6 ft tall and what a blessing it is. In my niece's school, it is nauseating in terms of how competitive parents are about this. Again, they are using gifted or hoping for gifted, meaning smarter than average, but not 2 std deviations or anything too out there. So, those people and their competitive issues kind of water down the situation for the highly gifted who really are that different and genuinely need some different accomodations.
My husband's aunt is less than 5 ft tall. She needed wooden blocks affixed to the pedals in her car to allow her to drive. I have no idea how someone 6 ft 8 or 7ft tall comfortably drives a car. My husband, who is 6 ft tall and is considered "tall" but within the approved societal idea of "tall" often complains that his legs feel crunched up on long car drives or on airplanes. But it's not affecting his life to the point where he can't cope without accomodations. It's not ideal, but he can live his life reasonably comfortably. I wish he got the leg room he needs to be completely comfortable on an airplane but I think they need to do something for the less common 7 ft tall person first, because it's so much more uncomfortable. Also, my husband is able to forget about being tall much of the time, whereas the 7 ft tall person is constantly bumping his head, searching for comfortable clothes, dealing with weird reactions from other people, etc; that person can't forget he is tall!
Kid's growth is not truly predictably linear. My sons were taller than average babies. Then, my oldest one dropped down into the 50th percentile for height at one point; they said he would be 5 ft 8 one day. We fed him very well, but he was no longer tall. Then, he had a big growth spurt and he went into the 75th percentile, putting him at a predicted height of 6 ft, where he has stayed since. I'm sure there were kids who were taller than my son when they were 1 year olds and they may be shorter than him as adults. Physical growth is not incrementally linear, but yet my son could never ever be 7 ft tall. If I fed him protein shakes and gave him a perfect diet, he could never be 7 ft tall, because it's not in the genetic cards. I feel confident that he will grow near the ceiling of his genetic potential for height but he can't surpass it. My father, OTOH, is the runt of his family and he blames poor nutritrion; he was cheated out of genetically possible height by insufficient nurture.
Everyone wants to be tall and everyone wants to be gifted (again, within a cultural range of comfort). But we don't say, "all people are tall!". I'm very thin and "thin" is considered wonderful. But I was truly underweight and kids really mocked me. As I got older, people accused me of being anorexic, when in fact, it's just genes. I didn't like being thin. I tried very hard not to be. I tried to hide being thin with loose clothess. I hated my body for most of my life. But if I were ever to say anything like this, people would say, "What are you complaining about??? You're thin!!" and they would totally brush of my real issues because society likes the idea of thin (but not too much!) and people are really really tired of being bombarded with "thin". I've had girls tell me, "Gosh, you're so thin!!! I *hate* you." I would have given anything to gain a little weight and have curves and look less sickly. No one would really like to be that thin, but I was supposed to have no issues, because it's what people want to be. Or is it?
I am tired of hearing about whose kid gets straight As and is the top of her class and who has a great, thin body and who is "nice and tall". I'm sick of the competition too. But at the same time, I would never deny the fact that some people are so far down that alley that they need help. I can keep the two separate in my mind: the bright, hard-working kid with academic accolades and the highly gifted child who is ostracized, bored to tears and desperately wants to be inside the cultural comfort range instead of way outside it. You can't compare the two. 6ft and 7ft are both tall, but they are vastly different in life needs. And yet, being tall doesn't make them better people or guarantee success or matter more than kindness, hard work, etc. We do people a disservice when we say the equivalent of "all people are tall"", plus it's just not true. And yeah, maybe someone should come up with a more descriptive term to differentiate 6ft vs 7ft.