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Lesson Plans

On being "gifted" (long post)

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Lincoln Arts (lincarts)
Tue, 20 Oct 1998 16:23:08 -0700

A personal story about being "gifted" - please feel free to not read it if
you don't want to. :)

When I was young (late 60's/early 70's) I was tested and labeled as
"gifted." The school district I was in didn't do anything about it back
then - they just liked to know how many students were labeled as gifted or
slow or ???

Too many of my elementary teachers decided that if I was "gifted" I didn't
have to do the same work as the other kids. In fact, in sixth grade - I
really didn't do anything! The teacher basically turned me into her
assistant - grading papers, in charge of the class when she left the room,
etc. She thought she was doing me a favor as I'd be "bored" with the work
everyone else was doing, so I was just to read whatever I wanted on any
subject (I ended up with a lifetime pass to the library), and she gave me
A's in every subject.

Unfortunately, when I got to middle school the next year - I began a slow
slide to heck. As I was gifted (pun intended) with many good teachers, I
was able to succeed (and well) in English, social studies, history, etc.
However, due to my sixth grade teacher's remarks regarding how "bright" I
was and the "gifted" label - I was put into advanced math classes. Not
having an analytical mind, and not having seen a math book in at least two
years, I failed miserably. And, of course, it was just that I was not
"applying myself" (an expression I despise to this day).

So, I failed math my first semester and was dropped into another "lower"
math class and my teachers, parents, extended family, were soooo
"disappointed" in me. This math "failure" continued throughout middle
school and high school, too. Unfortunately, this failure to "apply myself"
only exacerbated the problems of a relatively normal teenager - so by the
end of high school, I never wanted to see a classroom again. And I've
struggled ever since with the formal classroom setting (only have 40 college

Meanwhile, you're asking yourself - okay, a bad experience for one person -
so what? Unfortunately, it isn't just one person. As I've grown older,
I've met others just like me - labeled as kids as "gifted" or "slow" - when
actually we were just all kids needing extra help in some fashion.

So, what's my point(s) after all this? Just this:

Nowadays, if a school district has labeled kids as "highly gifted,"
"gifted," or any other label - they darn well better have a program in place
that does its level best to assist those students in whatever fashion they
need. And I'm happy to read that some are.

And, I'm sure most of you are good teachers who try and treat ALL students
well. But as some of these subsequent posts have shown, (and I may be wrong,
but weren't the initial posts just teasing/joking - "what about slightly
gifted?") sometimes biases can show through.

School is hard enough on a child without being labeled. (And, God forbid,
they look a little different than their classmates!) Teachers' attitudes
towards their students end up being a vital component of how a student ends
up. Children pick up on everything, and if you have a bias AGAINST "gifted"
students - even if you think you aren't expressing it - you most probably ARE.


P.S. Sorry if this is too long, or you think it's inappropriate for the
list, but as you can probably tell - it's a sore subject with me. And,
since now my niece is "gifted" and there isn't a good program in this area -
I'm worried....


Jeanne-Marie Fritts

  • Maybe reply: Lauretta A. Hendricks-Backus: "Re: On being "gifted" (long post)"