Greetings from Indiana! And a word (or two) about ‘gifted’

741 miles.  12 hours.  2 stops.   Cruised out of the city at 6:34 am led by a gorgeous full moon (we missed the eclipse because…we had a 12 hour drive in front of us!) and arrived at 6:27 pm to snow, snow and more snow.   Which is exactly what we were hoping for, as my parents’ farm is surrounded by some great sledding hills.

So ‘gifted’.  Touched a nerve with that one, didn’t I?   Here’s the thing.  I am NOT opposed to anyone trying to provide their child with the best possible education.  I know that we all have differing views of what that might entail, and how to go about it.  In our family we go about it by not learning in a school setting at all, and simply learning through our interests, whatever they may be.  (A method, I might add, endorsed by the National Association for Gifted Children)   What I AM opposed to is the suggestion, whether simply implied or stated outright, that some children, by virtue of their ‘giftedness’, have rights that do not extend to the non-gifted among us.   What I AM opposed to is not offering the best of the best to all children in order to discover in what areas they excel and then following through in those areas.   Instead, the NAGC states that it is a myth that all children are gifted.   That true ‘giftedness’ only applies to the realm of education as they define it.     They go on and on about how gifted children need more and higher quality everything; they even have a Bill of Rights (!), but then the NAGC says they don’t mean that gifted is better?     I have a problem with this.   Everything on their website; the list of myths, the calls for advocacy, the magazine, the Bill of Rights – everything is an indication that they believe ‘gifted’ = better.

If you have a child doing college level work in elementary school, you are going to find the school system a challenging place, as will someone whose child does not read until the age of 10.   I do not have a problem with you, the parent, taking steps to make sure your kid gets what they need.   Parents should be the main influence in their child’s life and learning.    But don’t do it by being condescending.    Which is what the NAGC does all over their website.

Gifted?   Talent Areas?  Semantics.   But the problems created by them are real.   A while back I wrote about an alternative solution to the current compulsory education system, which if implemented, might go a long way in solving these problems as well.   But it’s late, and I just drove 12 hours, so I’ll revisit that suggestion tomorrow.

Until then…

About Amy

Amy Milstein was born and raised on a farm in Indiana, but after 20+ years considers herself a full-fledged New Yorker. She is married with two kids, who do not go to school but are instead life learners. This means they learn by living in the world (real life ) instead of hearing about it and simulating it in a classroom. With her family, Amy loves to travel, read, watch movies, write, sew, knit - the list is endless.
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2 Responses to Greetings from Indiana! And a word (or two) about ‘gifted’

  1. Samantha D. says:

    It seems like a brief interaction with a few overzealous parents, and your interpretation of the NAGC’s website is really fueling this whole gifted issue. And while I applaud your passion for improving the system by taking your children’s education into your own hands (we homeschool as well), your comments seem very reckless and inconsiderate.

    Giftedness is a developmental abnormality, very similar to mental retardation, autism, or Asperger’s syndrome. Those disorders are characterized by deviations (usually one to two) to the left on the bell curve of intelligence and social functioning. Giftedness is the same deviation, only to the right. There is a considerable body of research on the similarities between giftedness and mental retardation (see Zigler, E., & Farber, E. Commonalities between the intellectual extremes: Giftedness and mental retardation. In F. Horowitz & M. O’Brien (Eds.), The gifted and talented: Developmental perspectives (pp. 387-408). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.)

    Giftedness is a psychological issue that happens to have its loudest and most prominent voices heard in the education realm. It is a pervasive, lifetime condition that affects all aspects of living, from infancy to late adulthood. The comments you have made through these three posts are considerably insensitive, especially considering that they were made with little concern for the children and their condition, and more out of your personal issues with the public education system at large.

    The giftedness that I speak of, and the giftedness that you have experienced through a few anecdotal experiences and some web browsing, are two very, very different things indeed. I completely agree that all children should have equal opportunities to high-quality education. I am sorry that you interpret giftedness as such an elitist club that seeks to serve top-shelf education to its own and leave everyone else out in the cold. While I can understand where you get that impression from a few interactions with parents and the website, I would hope that someone as seemingly intelligent and educationally minded as yourself would recognize that statements such as “I disagree with the existence of G&T at all” are quite harmful, and much more discriminatory than what started this rant to begin with.