Posted by: waikatogifted | June 18, 2009

Pretending to be Ordinary

Back when I was at high school, I used to babysit for our school guidance counsellor’s kids.  As I was arriving or leaving, we used to chat about things, including giftedness. I remember him telling me about a gifted kid who he had helped to become more popular. He had told this boy to count to ten after the teacher asked a question before putting his hand up. Worked a treat apparently. All the other kids thought this child was not as smart as he used to be, so they accepted him more. Looking back, I think I may have been told the story as an invitation to adopt a similar approach myself.  Too subtle, Mr. F. – the penny took thirty years to drop!

This is a scary story. It’s scary because the only way for this child to get ahead socially was to get behind mentally, or to pretend to. It’s scary because it worked. It’s scary because so many of our gifted kids are working out the same technique for themselves, and using it all the time. It’s scary because in thirty years, it is a problem we haven’t solved.

If you’re sporty, there is a right time to run really fast and a right time to throw the ball really hard. That time is not when you are teaching someone smaller and more delicate to play a sport that you love, but it is most of the times that you play sport.

When is the right time for our gifted kids to stop dumbing down, be who they are, and play really hard with their minds? For too many of them, that right time is certainly not between 9:00am and 3:00pm on weekdays.

It is important to get gifted kids together with other gifted kids. It is important to give them as much time as possible when they don’t need to pretend to be ordinary to fit in.

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