Despite writing a column called NY Gifted Education, I am really not a fan of the label: Gifted.
For a variety of reasons. The flawed testing metric in New York City is just one of the reasons, the striated education that comes of it is another.
But the primary one is that, counterintuitively, being labeled gifted seems to give people – adults and children – permission to… goof off.
All three of my children have met the criteria for being classified as gifted. So has my husband. So have I. So have many of our friends and our children’s friends and their parents. So I have more than a passing familiarity with the subject.
As a result, I have an overarching fear when it comes to my kids. That they might fall into the very common trap of being so good at so many things, that they have a difficult time picking any one to focus on.
Or that so many things come to them so easily, that they never learn to actually work at anything, and fall apart at the smallest set-back (a phenomenon detailed, here.)
But, my greatest fear is that they will assume the attitude of the below poster, who – in his own words – “schooled” me on Twitter this summer about what it means to be truly, truly brilliant, like him:
Well you see @NYGiftedEd, being Gifted means having many abilities & interests. Unfortunately there exists the dilemma of MultiPotentiality…MultiPotentiality, @NYGiftedEd, is an educational & psychological term referring to a pattern found among intellectually gifted individuals… When encountering multiple opportunities, @NYGiftedEd some students may experience confusion, anxiety and frustration because… Because @NYGiftedEd, they fear missing something or making a wrong decision. This is where it looks “lazy”, when deeper, it is paralyzation… Paralyzation is not cool— It’s kind of like a stale decision to do nothing, if only because 1 does not know which way to go… Unfortunately, @NYGiftedEd, While there IS enough Hours in a day, 24 in fact contrary to popular belief, there isn’t enough energy & focus… And while Gifted— sorry, Intellectually Gifted Individuals— are known for their High Energy, Energy management is tricky…Basically, @NYGiftedEd, it isn’t actually “laziness”. It may look like, but as always, it’s always more complicated when talkin bout… I don’t know, I don’t think #Gifted ppl are lazy— there’s a teasingly inaction & it ain’t lazy. Frustration, anger, confusion… Now I know I’m talking to an Egg head @NYGiftedEd, but I don’t know if that comment we embellished over was directed at us or was in general… Either way @NYGiftedEd, we like to think we’re more brilliant than brilliant, technically Gifted, actually, & feel the need to break it down… you see, @NYGiftedEd being “Gifted” is easy for us to talk about, because we know what we’re taking about. Unfortunately… Unfortunately, @NYGiftedEd The majority of Intellectually Gifted Individuals don’t know what Gifted is, and what makes them Tick… Fortunately @NYGiftedEd, we try to share what we know and hope others can relate. But it isn’t easy especially with stereotypical comments… I’m drunk, @NYGiftedEd a sub-factor of Giftedness, so my line of work Is really unclear to whether or not I’m producing thinking points… Basically Plz don’t take it personally, @NYGiftedEd, you lovely Egghead, it’s just that that comment is so common and easy to make… I don’t see it as an excuse, @NYGiftedEd I see it as reasoning, breaking it down. Hopefully by doing that, it provides understanding… It’s funny @NYGiftedEd, who am I to talk though, I’m Good Will Hunting. Doing BS work for a paycheque because I don’t know what I want to do…Then again @NYGiftedEd A couple years back I was in a hole. I’m climbing out of said hole, and ideally Soon times, I’ll be on top Mountain… Anyways, as I said, don’t take it personally @NYGiftedEd. But if you know Gifted, if there’s a button pushed, or passion ignited…Then @NYGiftedEd, #Gifted Individuals can get on a roll ON A ROLL. The trick is to positively output that energy. Hopefully I just did that.
I don’t actually know the person who wrote me the above ramble. But, I know him, all the same.
He’s the one who can’t finish college/write a dissertation/publish a book/get a job because “the world doesn’t get” him and his particular brand of genius. He’s the person who can always criticize the work of lesser beings without quite managing to produce an exemplary example of his own, the one who spends all his time talking about his great, upcoming opus, and never quite getting around to taking the risk of actually doing it – and maybe discovering his own fallibility along the way. He’s the one living with his parents or on welfare, working to “find himself.”
And he is the person I am most terrified of any of my children turning into.
Because, cards on the table, I won’t be able to handle it.
If one of my kids dares to tell me that the reason they’re doing nothing is because they are so talented, so special, so “gifted” that mere mortal work of any kind is beneath them, I will blow every gasket at my disposal.
As I go through the Kindergarten process now with my youngest child, and people ask me what I am looking for, I have a long list, but at the very top is: I want a school that will teach my daughter how to work. Yes, even at tasks that she doesn’t like, yes, even at ones that she finds boring and repetitive.
Because that’s life, and the last thing I want is a child who believes she’s too good for it.
Because, at the age of four, she got a high-score on a deeply flawed standardized test.