Have you known students who didn’t do well in school, but turned out fine when they left the education system? That would have described me when I was younger. I really struggled – as evidenced by my report cards. I’d post one, but it would be ugly. In school I felt disabled.
A mere 14 months separates me from my youngest sister, who thrived in the school setting. She picked up concepts quickly, made “straight As”, and received many academic awards. Don’t get me wrong, she worked hard for the accolades and deserved them. It was, however, difficult following in her footsteps. I vividly remember a meeting with my mother and fifth grade teacher. They told me I was just as smart as my sister. I was “gifted” but needed to “try harder” and apply myself.
I didn’t feel gifted. This explains why I’ve never been a fan of gifted programs as they are currently designed. I feel they divide kids into two extreme categories of “smart” and “not smart” rather than highlighting intelligence across a broad spectrum. All children have gifts and are intelligent, just in different ways.
I have since discovered the issue is not one of being gifted; it is about feeling gifted. So our challenge is to highlight the unique gifts in every child and celebrate them. By doing so, our children stand a better chance of thriving in their journey toward adulthood. Funny – in my work as an adult, I don’t feel disabled at all. If anything, I feel…gifted.