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#1 of 204 Old 03-18-2008, 07:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This is coming on the back of the 'first child exceptional' poll and also noticing there is a forum for parents of 'gifted' children. I am not American and don't live in America now but I spent Grade 4 in New Orleans and remember being confused by the 'Gifted and Talented' class at school. It wasn't what I was used to. I also remember children telling me they were 'gifted' and it is the only time in my life I ever had an IQ test. I've lived in other parts of the world and taught school in 2 countries but I haven't come across this phenomena anywhere else. Granted, I attended and taught Waldorf schools which don't do streaming, so maybe that's where the difference lies. I'm surprised to see it mentioned so much here though.

My question is, do you think this is a uniquely American obsession and do you think it is helpful to label a child as 'gifted'?
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#2 of 204 Old 03-18-2008, 07:55 PM
 
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I'm not American either, I'd assumed it was a new label that they'd come up with for specialised education in the last decade or so, but apparently not. I'd never heard of it outside of message boards.
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#3 of 204 Old 03-18-2008, 07:58 PM
 
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That's a good question. My thought is that it arose as a way of dealing with different levels and abilities of students within the very homogenous curricula of the public school, and that schools in other countries probably had their own ways of dealing with these issues. I don't know how long the term gifted has been around, but it seemed at one point there was much more of a division in society as to who would get what education. Then when our goal was to, ostensibly if not actually, offer the same opportunities to every one, it made more sense to identify children as exceptional, or at risk or whatever, and direct things that way from the common base.

My experience with the gifted and talented program at school is that the kids who got better grades were in it, but they didn't seem necessarily unusual. They got similar grades and SATs to mine, we went to the same university. I understand there are truly exceptional children out there who are beyond what we see on a daily basis, but there were none like that at my school. Maybe it was a classification that a lot of parents were invested in, however. The whole intelligence thing as a moral issue, and prizing of a high IQ is absolutely unquestioned here, from what I can see.
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#4 of 204 Old 03-18-2008, 08:16 PM
 
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yes. i think this is a uniquely american obsession.

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#5 of 204 Old 03-18-2008, 09:04 PM
 
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The label is not new by any stretch of the imagination.

Perhaps it is more needed in the US due to the ideas on education here.

It is a very needed label for dealing with regular schools (if appropriate, of course).

-Angela
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I am not American so I cannot speak for Americans but the book Hothouse Kids delves into this (American obsession with giftedness).
I am Filipino and I can definitely say that Filipinos definitely have this obsession so no, I don't think it is uniquely American.
I don't have a problem with labelling a child as being gifted only IF he/she truly is. I feel that both child and parent will benefit from an understanding of the giftedness.
However, I feel that because of this obsession, some are quick to label a child as gifted even if they are not. I think that this leads to unrealistic expectations and a lot of disappointment.
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#7 of 204 Old 03-18-2008, 09:20 PM
 
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The label is not new by any stretch of the imagination.

Perhaps it is more needed in the US due to the ideas on education here.

It is a very needed label for dealing with regular schools (if appropriate, of course).

-Angela
Agreed.

The term was around when I was a kid, for sure. In fact, I was tested in kindergarten and put in the program.

I think Angela hit the nail on the head when she speculated why it's more common here. I think the differences between the US educational system and those of other countries could be a big factor in requiring a separate gifted label.

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#8 of 204 Old 03-19-2008, 12:29 AM
 
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I have to agree with Angela.

I suspect the surge in children identified as gifted is related to the current state of American public education.

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#9 of 204 Old 03-19-2008, 12:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Sorry to sound ignorant but what is the current state of American public education?
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we have a very similar focus on 'giftedness' in canada ime. i think the whole thing is worthy of hearty critique personally, but it's not an american and not canadian thing imo.
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#11 of 204 Old 03-19-2008, 01:30 AM
 
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Sorry to sound ignorant but what is the current state of American public education?
Focus on standardized tests. Teach to the test. Nothing that's not on the test. No attention to the kids who can already pass the test. etc.

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#12 of 204 Old 03-19-2008, 01:32 AM
 
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yeah but that sucks for everyone. how is it good to take an elite portion of students and remove them from that? i can see how it's good for those students, but not for anyone else.
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#13 of 204 Old 03-19-2008, 01:40 AM
 
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yeah but that sucks for everyone. how is it good to take an elite portion of students and remove them from that? i can see how it's good for those students, but not for anyone else.
It's not an "elite" group a students. It's a group of students with different learning needs. Just like kids with other special needs- learning disabilities etc.

And what is best for each child is what should be done for that child. Why should their educations be sacrificed for the good of someone else?

-Angela
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#14 of 204 Old 03-19-2008, 01:45 AM
 
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Well but standardized tests and the like are not what is best for anyone IMO. The gifted kids get to escape it into a world of more creative, self directed learning. which is great for them, but IMO it would be great for everyone. And truth is kids who test 'gifted' tend to come from more privileged families, so they are 'elite' in terms of being identified as being 'smarter' and many have class privilege as well.

I think the whole thing could use a re-analysis, is all. I mean, if my kid tests gifted I will be thrilled that she has access to superior programs. But i think all the kids should have access to decent education.
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#15 of 204 Old 03-19-2008, 02:18 AM
 
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The whole intelligence thing as a moral issue, and prizing of a high IQ is absolutely unquestioned here, from what I can see.
i am puzzled by that aspect, too.
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#16 of 204 Old 03-19-2008, 02:50 AM
 
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It's not an "elite" group a students. It's a group of students with different learning needs. Just like kids with other special needs- learning disabilities etc.

And what is best for each child is what should be done for that child. Why should their educations be sacrificed for the good of someone else?

-Angela
Good point. I was in the TAG program in elementary school; I didn't get good grades, but apparently I scored high-range on the IQ that was mandatory to take.

The difference between my parents' reaction to this and others: My parents didn't tell me I was smarter or better than the other kids, or make me feel like I was in any way more special. They simply explained that it was a class for kids who thought and processed things differently than usual (which was totally me.. I'm an abstract thinker).

I really appreciated those classes, because it was the first time in school I felt "normal" as far as my thoughts and ideas, values and morals, creativity, etc... my talents and skills were completely UNappreciated in the regular classroom setting. Trust me, I cherished that hour every 3 days that I could be myself in and not be chastised for thinking "outside the box".

Do I think there is much-too-much emphasis on giftedness, and the major PUSH I notice every to "make" gifted kids in our country? Absolutely. My daughter (going on 4) has peers who are taking French, ballet, classical instrument lessons, in math tutoring, etc. These kids are 3 and 4 years old. All because their parents want to ensure their kids grow up to be 'gifted'. When really, most of the 'gifted' kids (and their ideas/thought process) aren't all that appreciated in a regular setting.
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#17 of 204 Old 03-19-2008, 03:59 AM
 
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Well but standardized tests and the like are not what is best for anyone IMO. The gifted kids get to escape it into a world of more creative, self directed learning. which is great for them, but IMO it would be great for everyone. And truth is kids who test 'gifted' tend to come from more privileged families, so they are 'elite' in terms of being identified as being 'smarter' and many have class privilege as well.

I think the whole thing could use a re-analysis, is all. I mean, if my kid tests gifted I will be thrilled that she has access to superior programs. But i think all the kids should have access to decent education.
Gifted programs are not really "superior" to regular class room education as simply different, and more intense. Also, in most places it isn't replacing the regular classroom, but instead is an additional work load on top of the classroom. Gifted students often choose to give up free time during recess, after school, or on weekends to participate in gifted programs. Though sometimes they are fun and exporitory, more often they are just another classroom experience with longer bigger harder text books.

As far as superior and inferior educations are concerned I think what district one lives in has more to do with the quality of ones education than whether one is IDed as gifted or not. A good school system will do well for all the students in it mainsteam, gifted and special needs; a bad school system will fail to let any students live up to there potentials.

There are exceptions like in NYC they have some great gifted and special ed programs, but on a whole do poorly for most of the students. However, in NYC luck has pleanty to do with it too. There are great magnet schools that are open to student of any abilty level where the placements are given out through a lottery. I think b/c these exceptions get so much attention there is a perception that this is the way it is for most gifted students.

Finally I suspect the perception that gifted students come from priviledged families has a lot to do with privledged families having more access to testing, both b/c if they want to they can pay for it privately, but largely b/c they can afford to live in areas with superior school systems that administer the testing much more consistantly. So the real problem isn't that privledged families push there children into gifted programs; The real problem is that poor/under privilaged families are denied access to the gifted programs that their children could qualify for. This also happens with special needs testing and programs.

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#18 of 204 Old 03-19-2008, 04:48 AM
 
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Hmm very interesting. I've never even heard of a class for the gifted or talented kids in any of my schools here in BC. There are programs for those kids, they're called Honors Programs, the International Baccalaureate Program, but never a class they'd attend within their regular schedule.

There were classes for kids with behavioural problems, social problems.. etc..
and there were classes for ESL.
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#19 of 204 Old 03-19-2008, 10:51 AM
 
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We had gifted class when I was growing up (I'm in Toronto Canada and going on 30). The teacher determined who was gifted and my teacher told me that I couldn't go into gifted class, because while I was bright enough, I didn't finish enough of my assignments. The gifted classes weren't really challenging to the students who went, it was basically a few extra activities, but nothing earth shattering and most students wanted to drop it after the novelty wore off.

I was chatting with a teacher one time about gifted children and I can't remember word for word what she said, but she was really for destreaming and that while many children are bright, only a few are gifted. Gifted ones being those who are doing work several levels above where they should be, not one or two. It seems to be a bit of an obsession. I know people who are labelling their 6 month olds gifted. I think it's important to keep children positively engaged in their learning and development, but in the end, most of it seems to come out in the wash.

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#20 of 204 Old 03-19-2008, 11:01 AM
 
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but she was really for destreaming and that while many children are bright, only a few are gifted. Gifted ones being those who are doing work several levels above where they should be, not one or two.
In our area, the gifted program includes such a broad range of children, way below the IQ parameters for clinically gifted. So it's essentially a program for high-achieving children (most are privileged), most of whom are not clinically gifted. I had a relative in one of these programs and she was so incredibly miserable there because she was operating many grade levels above and her needs were not being met in the gifted program. When her parents spoke with the gifted coordinator about it, the coordinator said that she was aware the child was very bored there but that she had so many children in the GATE program who couldn't operate on that level that she simply could not meet the child's needs. In that case, what is the point of the GATE program? Rather than providing an essential program for the few who think very differently and who *need* something different, it becomes a status symbol and reward for the parents of high-achieving, normal children. I am against this sort of program but I am in favor of true differentiated education for clinically gifted children.
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#21 of 204 Old 03-19-2008, 11:05 AM
 
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I'm in Canada. In grade 3, I had several tests, including an iq test. I was labeled as gifted and had enrichment programs.

I'm torn on labels. On one hand, I benefited from gifted enrichment programs. On the other hand, the label was damaging to me.

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#22 of 204 Old 03-19-2008, 11:16 AM
 
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I'm in Canada. In grade 3, I had several tests, including an iq test. I was labeled as gifted and had enrichment programs.

I'm torn on labels. On one hand, I benefited from gifted enrichment programs. On the other hand, the label was damaging to me.
It's certainly complicated. I did not attend schools with GATE programming and I had never heard of the word "gifted" until I was an adult. As an adult, I am aware from past tests that I would have been considered "gifted" as a child if I lived somewhere that tracked for that. So, I never had a label and I never had differentiated education but I had another label assigned to me: lazy. I never had to study in school so I didn't and I just daydreamed for the most of the time. I was constantly berated for being "lazy" and for having my "head in the clouds" so I developed poor self-esteem. My notes were a confusing maze of pictures and arrows pointing to scrawled words; they made sense to me but it was considered horribly unorganized and just poor. I never made really high grades because it just didn't seem important to me to apply myself to tasks that were unchallenging. I left school with zero work ethic and I fell flat on my face in university when I actually had to work for the first time in my life.

I have no experience with use of the gifted label and how it might be detrimental. I read what people have to say about that, because I learn from other's experiences. But my own experience is that the lack of the label didn't fix the problem; rather, it created a different problem altogether. I still have to work inside myself to assure myself that I'm not lazy and sloppy. Because I wasn't invested in school work for grades, I also assumed that I wasn't very smart at all (otherwise I'd be a high-achiever, right?) and that had long-lasting effects.

The whole thing is just very complicated.
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#23 of 204 Old 03-19-2008, 11:27 AM
 
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Despite being labeled as a "gifted" child, I am somewhat baffled by the system as it stands now - for many of the reasons the posters above have listed: identifying children in kindergarten, foreign language tutoring for 3 year olds, parents focusing on this as a goal, instead of adapting to their children's educational needs and learning styles, etc.

I grew up in a very AP home with a very crunchy mom. She certainly wasn't "training" us, simply exposing us to all kinds of experiences and nurturing us. I went to an open elementary school (no tests, no grades, no homework, self-directed work) through 3rd grade which totally fostered a lifetime love of learning. When we moved and I switched to a very conservative school, they were doing work I'd done on my own 2 years prior, immediately IQ tested me and put me in the "gifted" program. For my own benefit, I'm very glad that I was simply pulled out for additional classes, etc instead of encouraging the skipping of a grade or two, since I think this would have been very difficult, being even more different than everyone else.

I did high school (and college and MS) in the South of England, where a totally different type of educational system prevails. Though I was not in gifted classes, I was indeed enrolled in a grammar school. Though completely state funded, children are tested in the last year of primary school. Those who pass go to grammar schools. Those who don't go to comprehensive schools.

I guess I see schools using gifted programs as a way to do some streaming of children in order to provide educational opportunities to fit their needs, much in the same way as if I was learning disabled, while staying within the constraints of a very mixed group of children within a single building.
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#24 of 204 Old 03-19-2008, 11:29 AM
 
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I was "tracked" in school (the word used more in practice since "gifted" was offensive to some students), and it was absolutely perceived as an "elite" group of students, who got more advanced material, extra field trips, more fun learning opportunities, etc. In truth, we were probably no more than fast learners who do well in a traditional school environment and on standardized tests.

We did appreciate learning more and learning faster, but by the end it created a very unhealthy environment with rampant competition and self-esteem issues and a warped perception of the rest of the academic and social environment.

Unfortunately, as LeftField mentioned, the "gifted" programs I see today don't seem very different at all. There's a big difference between "quick learner who's advanced for his age" and truly "gifted"; for the former, "gifted" is a label parents like whereas for the latter, it is an indication that a standard education could be almost detrimental to the child given his unique needs.

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#25 of 204 Old 03-19-2008, 11:34 AM
 
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Well but standardized tests and the like are not what is best for anyone IMO. The gifted kids get to escape it into a world of more creative, self directed learning. which is great for them, but IMO it would be great for everyone. And truth is kids who test 'gifted' tend to come from more privileged families, so they are 'elite' in terms of being identified as being 'smarter' and many have class privilege as well.

I think the whole thing could use a re-analysis, is all. I mean, if my kid tests gifted I will be thrilled that she has access to superior programs. But i think all the kids should have access to decent education.
Oh, don't get me wrong, personally I think they should throw out the whole system and start over again. BUT as long as they are using the current system then "gifted" children (same as "learning disabled" children) NEED something different to succeed.

Suicide rates among gifted kids are sky high and rising last I saw.

-Angela
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#26 of 204 Old 03-19-2008, 11:39 AM
 
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Do I think there is much-too-much emphasis on giftedness, and the major PUSH I notice every to "make" gifted kids in our country? Absolutely. My daughter (going on 4) has peers who are taking French, ballet, classical instrument lessons, in math tutoring, etc. These kids are 3 and 4 years old. All because their parents want to ensure their kids grow up to be 'gifted'. When really, most of the 'gifted' kids (and their ideas/thought process) aren't all that appreciated in a regular setting.


High achieving and gifted are two VERY different things. Any decent testing program for identifying "giftedness" does quite a bit to account for differences due to social and economic status. Is it still a developing field? (the testing) Absolutely.

For example, the test used in my district is entirely non-verbal to account for a large percentage of non-native-English speakers.

-Angela
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#27 of 204 Old 03-19-2008, 11:44 AM
 
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In our area, the gifted program includes such a broad range of children, way below the IQ parameters for clinically gifted. So it's essentially a program for high-achieving children (most are privileged), most of whom are not clinically gifted. I had a relative in one of these programs and she was so incredibly miserable there because she was operating many grade levels above and her needs were not being met in the gifted program. When her parents spoke with the gifted coordinator about it, the coordinator said that she was aware the child was very bored there but that she had so many children in the GATE program who couldn't operate on that level that she simply could not meet the child's needs. In that case, what is the point of the GATE program? Rather than providing an essential program for the few who think very differently and who *need* something different, it becomes a status symbol and reward for the parents of high-achieving, normal children. I am against this sort of program but I am in favor of true differentiated education for clinically gifted children.


Absolutely. We run into this especially around here in the more suburban districts.

-Angela
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#28 of 204 Old 03-19-2008, 12:05 PM
 
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I was labeled as Gifted and Talented in school, and I am almost 33 years old- it has been around longer than a decade. In kindergarten they started splitting us into math and reading groups. There were three levels (for both, but the one I remember more clearly was the reading). I was in the top level, then there was the middle level for kids reading on grade level, and there was the lowest level for kids who needed help to catch up. I had taught myself to read by the age of 4 and I am sorry but I would have been bored to tears if I had to stay learning at the same level as the kids who didn't know their alphabet yet in kindergarten. I remember that they used the same books, when I was in first grade the middle level was using the book that I used in kindergarten. So, it wasn't that I was getting special perks or "priviledged" (by the way, my family was middle class) they were just teaching kids to their skill level. I was reading adult books by the fourth grade, clearly I needed some sort of enrichment activity.

I did get to participate in some special after school programs. These were Omnibus (a science program), Junior Great Books (reading), and Odessey of the Mind. I think I was chosen for these based on test scores and how I did in school. We also had a Summer Academy for gifted students that I went to a few years. I call it "summer school for nerds." I don't remember what the financial aspect was, or if students with greater need got discounts or scholarships. I do know that my mom (who was a SAHM) volunteered for many of the programs because both my brother and I were in them.

I grew up in Minnesota, and now I am raising my daughter in Florida. I am seriously concerned about the education she will get in the public school system here (current situation is such that I have to work and we can't afford private). Florida is big on teaching to the FCAT and every time I talk to teachers here they are so disgusted by the fact that they cannot really teach.
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#29 of 204 Old 03-19-2008, 12:20 PM
 
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Gifted programs are not really "superior" to regular class room education as simply different, and more intense. Also, in most places it isn't replacing the regular classroom, but instead is an additional work load on top of the classroom. Gifted students often choose to give up free time during recess, after school, or on weekends to participate in gifted programs. Though sometimes they are fun and exporitory, more often they are just another classroom experience with longer bigger harder text books.
IME 'gifted' programs tend to be actual classes in schools, so kids dont go to 'regular' class but to a special gifted class. Alternatively there are pull out programs but IME the kids who go to these programs are not usually expected to catch up on the regular schoolwork they miss.

And IMO the programs are indeed superior, more creative and interesting, and more self directed. It's nice to say they are 'equal but different' but I don't believe that to be the case.
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Originally Posted by the_lissa View Post

I'm torn on labels. On one hand, I benefited from gifted enrichment programs. On the other hand, the label was damaging to me.
Same. That's why I think that labelling certain kids and providing enrichment programs only for them is not a great strategy. The kids who are 'gifted' have this label and often their parents' egos and pride to live up to. The kids who are not 'gifted' get to feel inferior. Woohoo.

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Originally Posted by alegna View Post

Suicide rates among gifted kids are sky high and rising last I saw.
Seriously? Any studies on why?
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