I AM NOT GIFTED. Just putting it out there from the start that, no, this isn’t me telling you why I’m gifted and you’re not, or about the perks of being gifted, or about the trouble I find myself in from being so much smarter than those around me.
Again, I repeat, I AM NOT GIFTED.
However, as someone that is on the outside looking in, I have some thoughts as to what I think being “gifted” nowadays means.
First, must divulge that I come from a pretty decent intellectual crop. I have a great-uncle that has a Chair at MIT; my grandfather graduated at the top of his Harvard class; his brother, another great-uncle, also attended Harvard; I have a cousin that attended Tufts (and to get out of taking a test once made himself throw-up in the classroom, in what I consider to be a gross, but similarly smart, move); etc… Yes sir, there was a lot of fancypants educating that went on in my family.
For me, I was a moderately chronic under-achiever. All of my elementary school parent-teacher conferences noted that I was “smart, but lazy,” “had tons of potential,” and “didn’t do my homework.”
Confronted by my mother, I let her know then and there: I was more of a “social butterfly” than a “book worm.”
Despite not really doing much of anything academically between 5th and 12th grade, I still got good grades. I don’t think I ever brought a book home past my sophomore year of high school, and I didn’t even open my AP Chemistry book my senior year (and sweet ol’ Mr. Levine caught me having not opened my new textbook, but that’s another story for another time).
Surely, a child that had the capacity to do well without doing anything must be gifted, no?
I was not, am not, gifted. I was very good at getting deadlines extended, answering essay questions, and photocopying other people’s notes.
You know who else weren’t gifted? 98% of the kids that did better than I did and put in half the work (and yeah, there were a fair amount).
So what is it today with parents and teachers and tutors and specialists and nannies believing that their child is truly special?
In an age where no child goes home without a medal or ribbon, teachers aren’t supposed to use red pens anymore because the color has a negative connotation, and schools don’t give “Fs” but rather “Rs” or “Is,” it’s not surprising to see that there’s an influx in people genuinely believing that their child is special.
However, matters at the other end of the spectrum are inflating at a rapid rate, as well. Children diagnosed as autistic are on the rise, children with ADHD and other attention disorders have skyrocketed (as have the number of children on medication), and the rates at which children drop out of school have risen (in major cities, we’re looking at a 50% drop out rate).
Where does this polarization come from? Why are children labeled as “promising” versus “problematic?” How come people don’t understand that coloring within the lines does not a gifted child make?
So what does it take to actually be textbook-definition gifted? Answers vary from having at least an IQ of 130 to showing advanced abilities beyond the norm for a child your age. There are also interpersonal tests that are done to see a child’s leadership abilities and thought processes.
But what about other types of intelligence? I mean, there are nine types, but only four are considered when defining what “gifted” means. Logical-Mathematical, Interpersonal, Linguistic and Spatial intelligence are all tested, but what about the others?
Your “gifted” child may be no more special, and quite possibly less special, than the kid that eats his Play-Doh, runs around for three hours, then gets called to the Nurse’s Office to take his Ritalin.
Or maybe it’s possible that, in fact, we’re all gifted in our own way. That the guy selling dirty water dogs on the corner is just as smart as the I-Banker in the suit that’s buying one from him, because they possess excessive, but different, intelligences.
Love your child and be proud of your child, but please do refrain from any use of “gifted” unless it’s truly warranted. It makes me want to “unwrap” a can of whoop ass for you.
Jackie for AMP3 New York Public Relations
Updated by Danielle Oct 30 2017
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