Sigh. I've tried to think of a more creative way to start this blog but my overwhelming sentiment is one that simply produces an exhaustively frustrated sigh. Gifted children are not zoo animals. I feel like this should be an overwhelmingly obvious statement, especially for those of us with gifted children and gifted students. Time and time again, I receive messages from producers asking me if I have any children that would be interested in participating in one of their 'genius' reality shows -- shows that put gifted, or 'genius,' children on display to idealize their intelligence and publicly identify them as 'geeks' or 'nerds' with little regard to the many other dimensions of these children.
Today, for just a moment, I turned around and suddenly the whole school seemed still. You must know that a school full of 2nd - 4th graders is never still nor quiet. For a moment, however, I felt as if I was deaf. The motion seemed to slow. Parents wanted to talk to me. Students needed me. Faculty needed me. Yet, for a moment, it all seemed to come to a screeching halt as I gazed at my students, most of whom were sitting on the new mats engrossed in their novels.
Today was testing day. As students finished each section, I asked them if they would like to take a break. Would you like to color? Play a game? Do you want some water? Do you need to use the bathroom? I received a shrug. Every single child shrugged and asked "Can I get a book from the library?" Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. You absolutely can! This, on its own, almost brought tears to my eyes. Each child flew to the library, careful to keep at least one foot on the ground to ensure that their speed is still walking, not running. I almost felt guilty asking them to tie their shoes on the way to the library. I'm cutting into their library time. It's causing impatient shaky shoe tying. I don't want them to trip and fall on the way to the library. My brother broke his collar bone from an untied shoe.
The question we should be asking, however, is not when, how, or if we should tell a child that he/she is gifted but, rather, why are we telling that child?
My mom always told us that should would never be proud of us for just being smart because we were born that way -- we didn't do anything to be that way." Your child is gifted. Are you proud of your child for having brown hair? for being cute? for being short or tall? No. It's what they do with their gifts and talents that matter.