Good reading . . . . for parents of these children --
A Major Myth in Gifted Education
I took this from a newsletter addition to the Gifted & Talented Newsletter from spring, 2011 . . .
One major myth in gifted education is the belief that a student who is identified gifted and talented should perform well in all content areas. For example, a student may perform well in language arts, but average in mathematics. The following is an excerpt from an article written by Joyce Van Tassel-Baska on Myths About Gifted Students from the Hoagies homepage:
Myth: Gifted students are good at everything and should be reminded of that when they fail to perform at high levels.
Reality: Gifted students vary in their abilities to perform just like any other group of students.
Students who seem to 'have it all' can mislead educators into thinking that they need little help or support in the development of their talent. "Although in the past we've tended to stereotype gifted students as exceptional 'across the board', few are actually good in everything they do." While it is true that some students may be good at a wide variety of things, and some are truly exceptional in some areas, all students have different learning styles, performance abilities, production rates and quality of work. For example, some gifted students are poor test-takers, others are poor at organization and time management, and still others have difficulty with homework. Some gifted students have a learning disability which may mask their giftedness or interfere with production of academic work.
Talent development implies that a gifted individual must learn, practice and refine their raw abilities over time in order to produce quality work or performance. To do so, the individual must encounter periods of personal and professional growth through challenge, struggle, success and failure. Delisle and Galbraith cite Bejamin Bloom as stating, "no matter what the initial characteristics (or gifts) of the individuals, unless there is along and intensive process of encouragement, nurturance, education, and training, the individuals will not attain the extreme levels of capability."
The implicit internalized belief that a gifted student should "be good at everything" and is a guaranteed success can create enormous feelings of personal failure, self-doubt, and distress when the student encounters his or her first experience with struggle and failure. Cross uses the illustration of Thomas Edison as an example of how "being good" even at one thing, such as the light bulb, took years of experiments, trial and error and perseverance.
Why. I bet you're wondering why I'm on the "parenting gifted children" soapbox right now. Truth is, it's one of my soapboxes. My forever soapboxes. I have a friend of a friend who has gifted children. They've been identified as gifted by the district that they go to school in. I get that. Me too. But, I've been watching this mom from a distance and she is HARD on her kids. I am too, but it's been some time until I could put into words the difference. Here's how it sums up for me: my kids get to struggle. They get to fail and they're learning to pick themselves up and go on. My friend's friend doesn't make mistakes available. She expects perfection every inch of the way . . . . so this article was a light bulb moment for me. It validates that my gifted kids still get the luxury to screw up, and that expecting my gifted readers and non-verbal kids to attack math with the same gusto that they dive into a good fiction is not realistic. I need to loosen their expectation on excellence in areas where they truly are AVERAGE!!!