Mothering Forum banner
1 - 20 of 927 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,099 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know this discussion is not considered appropriate for the "Parenting the Gifted Child" forum, but I'm hoping it's okay here, as there is a lot of interest in the subject.

I am uncomfortable with it, myself. I was labelled a "gifted" child, and there was a lot of pressure, and a lot of ego stroking also. I think the ego-stroking was good for me in some ways as I also had an abusive childhood, but I feel uneasy with the current labelling and treatment of "gifted" children.

I think IQ testing is problematic at best, and focusing on a particular brand of intellectual development is unwise.

I also think "gifted" labelling sets up a hierarchy among children, where "gifted" children can be made to feel like they are better than other children.

I think the labelling can lead to arrogance.

I think parents can become so invested in their children being intellectually "superior" that it becomes a badge of honour, and I think children can feel this, and it can prevent them from actualizing all the parts of who they are, or being comfortable with the ways in which they fall short of that "gifted" standard.

I think parents can become convinced that their children are an alien breed, that they are not competent to parent them, that their children have immense and unmatchable need for intellectual stimulation, and that all kinds of special treatments have to come into play, even during early childhood.

I believe it is not good for children to pick up on the energy of a parent's anxiety about being able to nurture them, on the parent's fear that the child is unknowable, that they are somehow "greater than" the parent.

I believe that all children, especially very young children, really need the same things, such as love, nurturance, freedom to play and develop at their own pace, acceptance that is not conditional, and a pressure-free environment in which to learn and grow.

Thoughts?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
16,212 Posts
I prefer the term "accelerated" to "gifted." I don't know why; it just sounds better. I see your points, but, accelerated children do have special needs that are unique from those of your "average" child. Their special needs are no less valid than the special needs of other "special needs" kids.

That doesn't make them "alien" to their parents, nor are they "greater than" their parents. They can be extreme perfectionists. They can have difficulty relating to kids the same age. They can give teachers a different kind of trouble (such as when the kindergarten teacher told me that his most troublesome students were the ones who already knew how to read.) And we need a place to talk about all of those things. And what exactly constitutes "gifted" is on a continuum......we may not all agree on that demarcation. But parents who feel the need to post in the "gifted" forum should feel free to do so.

PS. The idea that we are "pressuring" our kids is a myth. My dd reads for hours on end, not because I make her, but because she wants to. She talks about going to M.I.T. because she wants to, not because I've put any sort of pressure on her to do so.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,099 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by A&A
I prefer the term "accelerated" to "gifted." I don't know why; it just sounds better. I see your points, but, accelerated children do have special needs that are unique from those of your "average" child. Their special needs are no less valid than the special needs of other "special needs" kids.
What child is average? I do not know of any child who is completely average, who has no special needs, nothing quirky or different about their personality.

Quote:
That doesn't make them "alien" to their parents.
I dont think it makes the child alien to the parents either, but I do sometimes see parents perceive it that way. The child gets the label of gifted, and suddenly the parent is consumed with anxiety about whether they have what it takes to parent the child, what should they be reading/learning/doing, etc. It is as though they now have an enormous responsibility resulting from the label to ensure the child gets all kinds of intervention and resources to develop their awesome and mysterious intellect, kwim?

Quote:
But parents who feel the need to post in the "gifted" forum should feel free to do so.
Just to be clear, I'm not challenging that.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,278 Posts
Quote:

Originally Posted by thismama
I know this discussion is not considered appropriate for the "Parenting the Gifted Child" forum, but I'm hoping it's okay here, as there is a lot of interest in the subject.

I am uncomfortable with it, myself. I was labelled a "gifted" child, and there was a lot of pressure, and a lot of ego stroking also. I think the ego-stroking was good for me in some ways as I also had an abusive childhood, but I feel uneasy with the current labelling and treatment of "gifted" children.

I think IQ testing is problematic at best, and focusing on a particular brand of intellectual development is unwise.

I also think "gifted" labelling sets up a hierarchy among children, where "gifted" children can be made to feel like they are better than other children.

I think the labelling can lead to arrogance.

I think parents can become so invested in their children being intellectually "superior" that it becomes a badge of honour, and I think children can feel this, and it can prevent them from actualizing all the parts of who they are, or being comfortable with the ways in which they fall short of that "gifted" standard.

I think parents can become convinced that their children are an alien breed, that they are not competent to parent them, that their children have immense and unmatchable need for intellectual stimulation, and that all kinds of special treatments have to come into play, even during early childhood.

I believe it is not good for children to pick up on the energy of a parent's anxiety about being able to nurture them, on the parent's fear that the child is unknowable, that they are somehow "greater than" the parent.

I believe that all children, especially very young children, really need the same things, such as love, nurturance, freedom to play and develop at their own pace, acceptance that is not conditional, and a pressure-free environment in which to learn and grow.

Thoughts?
I totally agree and have felt this way for years before I became a parent.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,099 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I also feel that gifted school programs are great. Smaller class sizes, creative methods of learning, catering to students' individual needs. Wonderful. But how is it okay that we don't do that for ALL children? Any rationale for that that I can conceive of really disturbs me.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
16,212 Posts
Quote:

Originally Posted by thismama
What child is average? I do not know of any child who is completely average, who has no special needs, nothing quirky or different about their personality.

.
That's why I put "average" in quotation marks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,278 Posts
Quote:

Originally Posted by thismama
I also feel that gifted school programs are great. Smaller class sizes, creative methods of learning, catering to students' individual needs. Wonderful. But how is it okay that we don't do that for ALL children? Any rationale for that that I can conceive of really disturbs me.
Me too, mama.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
16,212 Posts
Quote:

Originally Posted by thismama
I also feel that gifted school programs are great. Smaller class sizes, creative methods of learning, catering to students' individual needs. Wonderful. But how is it okay that we don't do that for ALL children?
We should, really. And the disturbing thing is that "gifted programs" are often filled with kids who are from a higher socio-economic status than the median socio-economic status of that school district.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,338 Posts
AMEN!! I too was labelled gifted at a young age. I was bussed to a special school for gifted children. Personally I think it's all over rated. We were placed in classes based upon IQ. I found that "gifted" kids were often filled with a sense of entitlement that surprisingly (or not) has carried over into adulthood. Many (sometimes me too!!!) have yet to gain basic social skills because we were exempt from having to get along with peers - we were too advanced to understand their behavior or fit in or whatever - Guess what - out in the real world social skills count A LOT!!
Honestly all of the gifted status and programs lately drive me crazy. Every parent thinks that their child is smart (myself included), why do we feel some need to have them labelled? Just keep reacting to your child's interests. That's all the stimulation necessary. Many truely gifted children are actually found in the special education classes.
I know this is a very hot button for me so I'll stop now. I guess that is partly why I never started a topic on my own. Sure does feel good to have like minded mamas around because I normally feel completely isolated in this area.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,882 Posts
I think it's not the label, it's how it's dealt with that makes a huge amount of difference. For some people, however, the label is the thing that finally, finally pulls together all the disparate, sometimes "weird" behavior, and general differences into a handy envelope in much the same way as the label "Aspergers" or "Down" does, and for many of the same reasons.

Naturally, it can be attached by status-conscious parents whose sense of inherent superiority leads their children to become arrogant, but I contend that this arrogance would have occurred without the "gifted" label. The label is a tool, nothing more.

Quote:

Originally Posted by thismama
I think IQ testing is problematic at best, and focusing on a particular brand of intellectual development is unwise.
It's not just one "particular brand" of intellectual development. It's a difference in the way the brain processes and retains information. Gifted is not just "mathematical intelligence" or "phonemic intelligence."

Quote:

I also think "gifted" labelling sets up a hierarchy among children, where "gifted" children can be made to feel like they are better than other children.

I think the labelling can lead to arrogance.

I think parents can become so invested in their children being intellectually "superior" that it becomes a badge of honour, and I think children can feel this, and it can prevent them from actualizing all the parts of who they are, or being comfortable with the ways in which they fall short of that "gifted" standard.
I certainly think that this is true with many parents -- whether they label their children "gifted" or not. If you took away the label, they would find another reason why their children are better than yours. The problem isn't with the label or with the difference in brain function. It's the problem of arrogant, status-conscious people.

To be honest, I seriously wish that the label "gifted" would disappear and be replaced with some less lovely-sounding label, one that confers much less automatic prestige -- perhaps "asynchronous development."

Quote:
I believe that all children, especially very young children, really need the same things, such as love, nurturance, freedom to play and develop at their own pace, acceptance that is not conditional, and a pressure-free environment in which to learn and grow.

Thoughts?
I completely agree, particularly with the "develop at their own pace" idea. If a child is genuinely gifted (and the more gifted they are, the more this is true), the more the parent needs to understand that the child needs to develop at her or his own pace -- not the pace of the public school, or the pace of the developmental charts in What To Expect Your Toddler's First Year, or the pace at which you think they "should" go, but at the pace their intellect demands.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
4,450 Posts
Everyone is, of course, entitled to their own opinions on this matter. Mine, since you asked, is based on my personal experiences in a gifted program in elementary school and as a teacher of gifted kids for 10 years before my daughter was born. I also used to give the IQ tests in the schools where I worked and I was on a district committee once that researched the needs of gifted children in order to make appropriate changes to district policy in order that the children's needs be met.

I like the definition of gifted on Hoagies Gifted website. For me as a professional working with gifted children, this definition works well.

Quote:
Gifted and talented children are those identified by professionally qualified persons who by virtue of outstanding abilities are capable of high performance. These are children who require differentiated educational programs and/or services beyond those normally provided by the regular school program in order to realize their contribution to self and society.
Using this definition, most of the children tested as gifted in schools today are really academically advanced. They have a higher than average IQ but they are not in the astronomically high IQ range. In reality, the astronomically high IQ children are difficult to find as they are often so far removed from average that they get defined as special education or behavior disordered. In high school, truly gifted children, particularly boys, are at high risk of failure due to their tendency towards antisocial behavior. With a lack of counseling services and trained professionals in schools today, there is often no safety net for the truly gifted teen. As an example, the most highly intelligent person in my high school was a boy in my grade. I went to school with him for many years. By the time we were in 12th grade, he was abusing lsd and attending school rarely. When he did attend school, he always knew the answer to every question the teachers asked, regardless of subject. He was literally brilliant. After graduation, he continued to abuse lsd to the point where he had a mental breakdown and was instituationalized. I do not know what happened to him but this sad tale is not uncommon among the truly brilliant.

Parents of children who have been labelled gifted (or any of its synonyms) do often see it as a "badge of honor." Especially among upper middle class and upper class people, there is a drive to get their children labelled as gifted since it means, to them, that their children are superior. The irony is that truly gifted people are not easy to teach nor are they easy to be around. Labelling a truly gifted child as gifted can mean that their academic needs are finally going to be met. This child often has a history of distruptiveness in class and is very likely to have only a few friends and be difficult to deal with, both at home and in school. Labelling the academically advanced child as gifted is, at times, an ego boost for child and parent.

The truly gifted person or child is literally thinking differently than you or I. I am not truly gifted. I am just a smart person who did well in school and needed more advanced studies than average. The truly gifted person, regardless of their gift, is someone who percieves the world differently than you or I. Their brain is working differently. They are divergent thinkers, they think outside the box. They are often very focused on what interests them, be it dance, music, science, history, whatever. They often forgo basic needs in order to be involved in what interests them. They are difficult to talk with because they are thinking on a higher plane than most of us. If you were to meet them, you might find them strange or arrogant because they know so much more than you in their area of study that they are a bit obsessed with it.

Classic examples of truly gifted people are Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh, J D Salinger, and Silvia Plath. Plath and Van Gogh burned out like bright stars after leaving a startlingly gifted portfolio of work. Picasso was treated as a genius from the time he was a small boy and had his needs met to the point where he developed an ego appropriate for one so gifted. He was lucky. Salinger, of course, retreated from the public eye, a classic antisocial behavior of one so far removed from average. In movies, we've seen John Nash played by Russel Crow in A beautiful mind as a person who was extremely gifted and also having mental health problems. That is not uncommon in the truly gifted. Another movie example is the boy played by Matt Affleck in Good Will Hunting. He was incredibly antisocial and difficult to teach and work with. Yet, somehow his gifts shined through enough to catch the appropriate attention.

hoagies gifted website
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,549 Posts
I think any special needs label has the potential to do more harm than good. But I also believe that in the majority of cases, it does more good than harm.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,261 Posts
I do not like labels like that at all.

I think that we need to be VERY careful when choosing to put labels on developing children.

It is a lot of pressure. It can also be devistating to them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,882 Posts
Quote:

Originally Posted by thismama
What child is average? I do not know of any child who is completely average, who has no special needs, nothing quirky or different about their personality.
This kind of PC disingenuousness isn't helping the discussion, don't you think? I'm definitely sure you know that "average," like any designator, is a term describing a group of people who falls within a certain range of ability, a zone, if you will. If you want a visual analogy, think of a handful of salt thrown upon a table. Most of the salt will cluster in a given area. Some will be more on the perimeter. The salt in the central cluster is where we consider the "average" salt grain to be. Maybe no single grain of salt is precisely in the center of that given area, but in aggregate, most of the salt is there. That's the idea behind "average" (as I'm guessing you know already).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,099 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by Charles Baudelaire
For some people, however, the label is the thing that finally, finally pulls together all the disparate, sometimes "weird" behavior, and general differences into a handy envelope in much the same way as the label "Aspergers" or "Down" does, and for many of the same reasons.
Yes, I can see this, especially for a chid who is unexplicably "weird" and excels at IQ testing.

Quote:
Naturally, it can be attached by status-conscious parents whose sense of inherent superiority leads their children to become arrogant, but I contend that this arrogance would have occurred without the "gifted" label.
ITA. And this is where the gifted label divorces itself from the other types of "special needs."

I do think the gifted label contributes a lot to arrogance, because suddenly not only the parents, but teachers, other people are contributing. The label can officialize the arrogance.

Quote:
It's not just one "particular brand" of intellectual development. It's a difference in the way the brain processes and retains information. Gifted is not just "mathematical intelligence" or "phonemic intelligence."
Sorry, I mis-spoke. I was meaning to say that intellectual development, particularly in areas that are recognizeable thru testing, like logic, sometimes artistic ability, are recognized.

I really don't think focusing on intellect is useful in parenting. I think it is already overrated in this society. My own approach to parenting is about meeting my child's emotional needs as much as I am able. I feel that doing this will allow her to grow fully into herself, including intellectually.

I would much prefer this approach to be the norm, rather than daycares for example that really push their educational curriculum. I don't care if you will teach my child to say the letters of the alphabet. I care if she is crying, will you hold her.

And I think the desire of so many parents to have their children's fabulosity recognized as gifted contributes to a climate where pushing intellectual development at the expense of emotional needs is normalized.

Quote:
To be honest, I seriously wish that the label "gifted" would disappear and be replaced with some less lovely-sounding label, one that confers much less automatic prestige -- perhaps "asynchronous development."
Huh. I would find that much more palatable too.

ETA - Holy cross-postage batman!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,261 Posts
Also.....I believe that all children are gifted.

It is our job as parents and society to help them identify those areas and to encourage them.

Being gifted at academics is no better then being gifted musically.....or being gifted in woodworking.......or in dance......

Though for some reason society seems to equate academic achievement with happiness and success.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,099 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by Charles Baudelaire
This kind of PC disingenuousness isn't helping the discussion, don't you think?
I am not intending to be PC or disingenuous.

I feel like a lot of discussion of gifted children falls into the realm of plain old bragging. But when it is challenged, people run back to the idea that their children are special, that they have to deal with such unique and different things that parents of "average" children cannot possibly relate to, because those people never have to deal with unique challenges, kwim?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,099 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
ITA with your whole post, AngelBee, and I think this is especially important:

Quote:

Originally Posted by AngelBee
Though for some reason society seems to equate academic achievement with happiness and success.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,882 Posts
Quote:

Originally Posted by thismama
I also feel that gifted school programs are great. Smaller class sizes, creative methods of learning, catering to students' individual needs. Wonderful. But how is it okay that we don't do that for ALL children? Any rationale for that that I can conceive of really disturbs me.
Maybe because I have a feeling you're not necessarily getting what gifted school programs do in practice.

For one, most of them are pull-out programs -- so basically, that's like being "gifted" for an hour a week or so. You mostly have to make up the work you "missed" in the regular class because for the most part, teachers regard gifted pullouts as a frippery, an indulgence, "fun." Imagine if we had the same mentality toward special ed, huh? Like, if you have Down syndrome and an I.Q. of 75, you get to be with other kids like yourself only an hour or two a week, and you have to make up all the regular classwork because being in the Down class is a privilege.

For another, in a good gifted class -- and I'll get to the difference in a sec -- there's a genuine difference in how the students are taught because giftedness is not just an issue of depth, but an issue of rate. In theory, a regular-ed child could not handle the complexity or the pace of a gifted class, even if they busted their hump trying to do so. It would be like me trying to be at NBA camp with the Chicago Bulls. Ain't gonna happen.

In a bad gifted class -- and I will argue that those are the majority, largely due to the limitations imposed on teachers because of the pullout issue -- it's a bunch of silly projects and logic games. A regular-ed child would probably have a fine time.

As far as dealing with individual differences in a small class? That would be great -- but outside of homeschooling, that's not going to happen. Money. Bottom line, we don't care about education and we vote with our wallets. We spend plenty of time yammering about how the children are the future, and how it's such a valuable profession, and how important it it, but when it comes down to passing a bond issue for a new school? Fugeddaboutit. That's why, IMHO, homeschooling tends to work for most committed homeschoolers, because it's precisely what you described: small class size, and individually-designed education.
 
1 - 20 of 927 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top