Top Ten Ways to Annoy a Gifted Child

top-ten-ways-to-annoy-a-gifted-child

Do you see this boy with the peace sign?  It’s a ruse. As a teacher or parent of a gifted child, you will have no peace if you do any of the following things guaranteed to annoy a gifted child.  Intrigued?  Follow our ten-step plan guaranteed to annoy every gifted child you know or your money back.

1.  Force them to remain at the “right” grade level. Surely the arbitrary grade/chronological age partnership sprang fully formed from the head of Zeus and must be adhered to at all costs. No “skipping” allowed! We frown on skipping! That’s like cutting in line. It’s cheating.

2. Insist that they show their work, even though every single answer is correct and they have known how to do that type of problem for three years. Show your work! How else will we find points to deduct?

3. Make them read along with much slower readers. Think nails on a chalkboard. The Supreme Court has ruled this to be cruel and unusual punishment. Well, perhaps not unusual, but definitely cruel. To fully understand what this is like for a gifted kid, find a cassette tape and play it at half speed. Then ask yourself questions about what you heard. Right after you pull the hot poker out of your eye.

4. Place them in a classroom with more typical learners and don’t do anything to accommodate the giftedness. If they finish early every single day with every single assignment, so much the better! Hey, that’s what books are for! As Marie Antoinette said, “Let them read books!” Or words to that effect. Bonus points for making them stop reading right at the best part.

5. Say, “You’re so smart, you should be able to do this.” This is the best way to get a gifted kid to shut down like a check-out line at Wal-mart on Christmas Eve. Also useful: “So you think you’re so smart…”

6. Refuse to allow them to play with older or younger kids. It’s just not healthy. They need to get along with their age-group peers to prepare them for life in the real world. I mean, all of your friends are your same exact chronological age, right? Also, extra points for forcing them to be social and not allowing alone time.

7. When the unit on wolves is over, there will be no more learning about wolves (or hurricanes, or the quadratic formula, or quantum physics). The unit is over! We are moving on! You are still interested, you say? You’d like to delve deeper? Too bad! Time marches on, and the state-mandated test date approaches. No time for interest-driven learning for the sake of learning! Silly…

8. More-ferentiate! This is Differentiation’s evil imposter. With more-ferentiation, you just give more of the same work, not different work. See how that works? Genius! They’re too busy to complain about being done, and if they refuse to do the work, you can say that it’s a discipline problem and send them to the office! Plus, you don’t have to do anything. You can just use old worksheets you’ve had for sixty years that you copied on a mimeograph. What a fantastic strategy!

9. Expect them to “act gifted” all of the time. Gifted kids should always get 100’s on every assignment, always get everything the first time it’s explained, always turn in their work on time, and essentially be the Mary Poppins of school (practically perfect in every way). If they don’t measure up to this standard, they’re probably not gifted and should be moved to the “regular” class.

10. Make them practice work they already know over and over. It’s good for them. It’s like the educational equivalent of the movie “Groundhog Day.” The more they rebel, the more you should give them. It prepares them for the real world. You know, how your boss would love it if you came in and did the very same work over and over again and never made any progress. Oh, wait. Okay, so maybe it’s not like the real world, but it is like the alternative universe we call “Educating the Gifted Child.” Or Not.

So now you know them. The ten things guaranteed to make an insta-enemy out of even the sweetest child. How many will YOU try?

update: You can download a pdf of this post in a friendly format here.

 

Image Credit: Boy with Peace Sign photo by ZoofyTheJi at sxc.hu

 

Comments

    • Lisa says

      Who are “they”? These are practices I was subject to in the 70s and 80s. As a teacher now, I know these practices are of days gone by. If your child is experiencing this type of setting, SAY something. But also listen. Be open to the idea that your child’s teacher and school administrators are doing things for your child that they know help. “I’m bored”, from a child, causes drama and disturbs parents and removes from the child responsibility. Kids know this. If your child says those words, talk to the teacher before you assume anything. I’m not sure why the public thinks that teachers are lazy or don’t care. I don’t know a single teacher who would be ok with any child not being given what he or she needs.
      This tongue-in-cheek list is funny, I agree. I was in this boat as a child, and always felt like teachers were clueless.
      I’m looking at this as both a parent of AIGs and as a teacher of kids of all abilities. I see both sides. But if these things are happening in your child’s classroom, your job as a parent is to advocate without undermining or letting your child off the hook. The most successful children (of any academic ability–never mind the gifted part, they’re all gifted) are parents who step forward, stay informed, ask questions, remain open, and hold their child accountable. Blaming a teacher is rarely a good approach. Sharing the responsibility with the teacher and the child—now THAT’s the kind of thing that makes kids grow into people who love to learn, don’t make excuses, know it’s ok to “fall short”, and know they’re part of a world where we all have gifts to share. Teachers, parents and the children themselves share the responsibility. I’ve heard parents tell a kid, “no wonder you act out…you’re too smart…you must be bored”, then blame me when their child capitalizes on the free rein to act in any way. That is no worse than if a teacher said “you’re so smart, you should read with this child who needs help”.
      Do not tolerate any of the above list from your child’s teacher. But I’m willing to bet that if you become informed, listen to the experts, do your research and realize that the teacher wants your child to be successful and happy, it will be the biggest favor you ever do your child. Thank you to parents who do exactly this.

      • Brandi says

        No, they’re not “all gifted.” They’re simply not. You can use other definitions of gifted to say that everyone is special and has value. I agree, but we’re talking here about a very specific type of gifted person. Pretending that you don’t see that distinction is part of the problem. I’ve encountered that argument far too many times.

        My children are highly gifted. They both score 3 standard deviations beyond the average. Over the course of a career, teachers – even in a place like where I live, which skews higher than the national average in IQ and education – are likely to see very few children at that level. Compare it to the 5-10% of the population on the autism spectrum. Dealing with 1-2 students on the spectrum per year [on average] compared to 1 highly/profoundly gifted child every 4-5 YEARS makes a difference in how equipped teachers are to deal with these kids.

        Even if you’re looking only at children who make the common 120 IQ cut-off for gifted programs, that’s roughly 2% of the population. It’s not that I believe there are no teachers who care. It’s just that they don’t see our children enough, and there’s not enough training available about them in college, to know how best to serve them. My son’s 1st grade teacher is well aware that he’s years ahead, but she doesn’t know what to do with him. A first-grader who determined how to add fractions in his head at 5 cannot be served by extra 2-digit addition sheets.

        • Rhonda says

          Hear! Hear! …I totally agree!! My 8yr old son is Highly Gifted (tested and diagnosed by a Child Psychologist) at age 6…… He was completing the testing at the level of a 17yr old.
          I am SO DISGUSTED at the over use of the term “gifted” that I wish that there would be another term for our children! I am also DISGUSTED at the lack of knowledge among teachers about the subject!! My son has been in 4 different schools (private and public) while trying to find the right fit, and he is just in 3rd grade! Just today we met AGAIN with his Headmaster to discuss his “shutting down” and they were clueless…. Since they have no REAL concept of the “symptoms” and characteristics of a highly gifted child, they just blow it off and insist that there MUST be SOME OTHER “problem” with your child! Your example of autistic children vs highly gifted is amazing! (and true) BUT…..what is the answer??? We live in Atlanta and we have him in one of the top private schools in our area, but since he doesn’t “fit in to their mold”, he has issues……. I think it should be MANDATORY that anyone who is getting a degree in Education HAS to take a SEMESTER of a Gifted Learning class…unfortunately I don’t think there is such a thing in colleges just a voluntary “class” for teachers to get “Gifted Certified” which in my opinion is useless……..whew….I will step off of my soap box now! :) if you have any ideas or resources, PLEASE let me know! Thanks!

          • Lisa Van Gemert says

            You sure hit on a key idea: preservice instruction about gifted kids. The truth is that teachers don’t get much preservice instruction about anything other than the middle of the bell curve. It’s a huge problem! It’s sad, but private school doesn’t always translate into “flexible school.” Soooo the answer is to make training (good training!) available, and that is something that is going on right now. It won’t be perfect, but I do think it’s getting better. I would share resources with teachers like this site or NAGC or SENG. Good luck!!!

          • Sheryl says

            I try to remind people every chance I get that we didn’t choose our designation any more then the other end of the bell curve did, but we are stuck with ours while they were able to change theirs. My son has attended a public school and a private school. The public school decided at age 6 that he was autistic based on two characteristics that no longer apply at age 9. The private school refused to meet him on his terms and so he was a behavior problem for them. He asked to do algebra at the end of last year. I requested accommodation as quickly as educationally possible and a review of what he was currently doing. There were 50 place value assignments, my son was fluent in place value beyond the level achieved by the 50 assignments, at assignment 22. I knew the rest would never happen and discovered why he had become a discipline problem. The parting words from the school were that he wasn’t as smart as I thought he was. They were right, though not in the fashion they had intended. Still age 9 but doing quite well in Pre-Algebra after having completed 5 years worth of arithmetic in 3 months. That was faster then I had thought he would get there. That was the best school in the area we live in. We are homeschooling for now, but that also has disadvantages. At the moment, though, it is our least worst option. How many schools are there that would allow a 5th grade student to take Algebra 1 and middle school science? That is what our next school year is looking like so far.

        • says

          You’re so right, they certainly are NOT “all GIFTED!!!!” they are all special, valuable and unique, but not every child has a super high IQ. People who say every child is gifted are just ignorant about IQ and what it looks like. IQs range from high to low and schools aim to serve the middle of that bell curve. Children at the low end receive special education service mandated under No Child Left Behind, but there are simply no accommodations for children on the high end of the bell curve. It’s left up to parents to try to advocate and convince teachers and school administrators to make the needed accommodations.
          My child has an IQ in a range that occurs once in 10,000, she spent a good deal of time in Kindergarten in public school under the tables growling at people. Many children who are highly or profoundly gifted exhibit symptoms that look a lot like autism. In general these children have sensitivities and intensities that end up looking like behavior problems, but in the right environment these “behavior problems” disappear. The “normal” classroom is way too noisy and overstimulating for the highly or profoundly gifted child.
          My answer to help my child was to design my own school in which each learner has a custom curriculum in core and opportunities to learn with masters in areas of passion interests. Next year we are launching a hybrid home-school program which provides three days a week of structure and community. http://www.baywoodlearningcenter.org/homeschool.html

      • says

        I went to school in the 1990s and 2000s (graduated High School class of ’04), and I was subjected to most of these, so these are by no means from “days gone by”.

      • Marc says

        There are plenty of teachers who don’t recognize a high-IQ student when they’re right in front of them. Particularly if they struggle with handwriting.

        My sons’s first grade teacher sat at a parent teacher conference and told us she didn’t think our son was particularly talented at math, and that she had several kids in the class who she thought were ahead of him. A few weeks later, the district testing specialist tested him at a 6th grade math level.

        Don’t get me wrong, she’s a good teacher. A Golden Apple award winner, excellent in many ways. But she Just Didn’t Get It when it came to my son. When you have a Profoundly Gifted kid, people just haven’t seen it before, and they don’t know what it looks like. Instead they decide your kid has ADD and needs medication, or that they are “oppositional”, or some such silliness.

        So I got to experience what Calvin’s Mom in the Calvin and Hobbes cartoons did — dragging my son literally kicking and screaming onto a school bus in the morning.

      • Suzanne says

        You haven’t met many teachers if you can’t find one that doesn’t care if a child is bored. I have been dealing with this problem since my kids entered school. As a former teacher, I know how hard teaching can be. I also know that differentiation SHOULD happen in every classroom. It is not right to expect thirty kids to do the same thing as everyone else in the class based on age. It is ridiculous.

        • Gifted Guru says

          Suzanne, you hit on a key problem – teachers are working in a flawed system that arbitrarily assigns students to grades based on chronological age rather than ability.

        • says

          Indeed! After being unable to find any teachers who could actually work with our gifted children, we switched to a Mentor system instead of teachers. The Mentors job is not to teach, but to encourage, inspire and support as the learner works through core academics. Mentors work with five proteges at a time. I thank God for the last teacher who left us in the middle of her third day, in such a hurry to get away, she did not even stop to tell me good-bye! After that I promised my students I would no longer subject them to teachers and the Mentor system was born.

      • Linda says

        This happened all the time at Rochester School District in Michigan. It is surprising to me that teachers have the opinion that there are no issues in curriculum. Differentiating, compacting, etc. , just buzz words that aren’t implemented.

        • Lisa Van Gemert says

          Linda, I wish I didn’t believe you, but I do. On Friday, I was told that I couldn’t present about differentiation at a training I was doing for teachers because they were “differentiation-ed out.” It gave me pause because I was wondering if they were really doing it. If you’re really doing it, you want all the resources you can get.

        • val says

          The main problem complicating this, of course, is that when planning is done at the end of each school year, teachers get into a large room and start divvying up kids into rooms for the following year – trying to ensure a “balance”. Each teacher needs to have at least 1 “behavior problem”, each teacher is thought to need a balance of kids who perform well, some in the middle, and then some at the low end. They try to make it so it is “fair” for each teacher – so that no single teacher gets the majority of “problem” children, and no one teacher gets all the great performers. Each room is often then assigned a special needs child to come in (during classes that the child’s IEP has determined would be best for mainstreaming purposes)

          The teachers, therefore, SHOULD be prepared to differentiate, and yet they are only one person. With 1 teacher for 20-25 students, all at different levels of learning, it becomes a real challenge to be able to accommodate each child’s needs. Rather than putting children into leveled classes with other students at a similar level so that the pace is pretty close to perfect for the room, they are so afraid of hurting anyone’s feelings due to the common force-fed theory that all children should be made to feel equal, all kids win the race or the game, etc.

          Of course, no one wants any child to feel “smarter” or “dumber” than other children. They should be celebrated for their accomplishments. However, putting all levels into the same classroom denies children their specific needs. I believe children can be separated when needed and still be made to feel special and cared about.

          • A pair of Shoes says

            “The teachers, therefore, SHOULD be prepared to differentiate, and yet they are only one person. With 1 teacher for 20-25 students, all at different levels of learning, it becomes a real challenge to be able to accommodate each child’s needs. ”

            Excellent point! As a student teacher in a diverse classroom I live with this challenge — and I say that, fully aware of the blessing in my mentor teacher’s first grade classroom, (where I co-teach for three days a week), that we only have 16 students. It is still a tremendous challenge to meet everyone’s needs! With seven kids who speak English as a second language (two of whom have been in the country less than a year and came into our classroom speaking little more than their own names), 5 children with IEPs, one who is reading two, nearly three, levels above grade-level, but often runs out of the classroom in anger and struggles when he comes to making the simplest choices, and the rest on the high end of average, trying to help everyone actualize their potentials is a daunting task. Yet, it is not one we shirk. We spend hours thinking, discussing, researching, and planning. Our early finishers work is not just more of the same – it takes the amount of thinking required to the next level. Our reading and math small instruction groups are separated by ability and within those groups the children are given instruction aimed personally at them. We have a policy not to verbally frame things in terms of intelligence, but rather in terms of effort and responsibility. We emphasize that will do our best to give everyone what they need and that those needs will be different from student to student, but in return we expect everyone to try their hardest, to take responsibility, and to be respectful.

            Taking all that into account, I know we are still not doing enough. It pains me to see that our gifted students are often the ones who, when push comes to shove and we have to choose, we choose not to support, because they seem more likely to be able to make the best of that loss. Having been …well, I don’t know if I’d go so far as to call myself gifted, but having been a student who was hardly ever challenged in elementary school, despite my parents advocacy, I have empathy for these students. I can easily put myself in their shoes, and their parents’ shoes. I know the boredom, the frustration at the slooooowness, and the desperate yearning to learn more than I was being taught.

            Yet, from most of these responses, I wonder if any of the respondents have ever tried on the shoes I am currently trying to fill. Have you really imagined, or even asked your child’s or your own teacher, what they were trying to do? Why they were making the decisions they were? I don’t think any of the responses on this list are acceptable, no kids should be pushed in a corner, or told to suck it up, but I do think there are good teachers out there fighting a hard battle, working for EVERYONE – gifted kids included – who just have to make tough choices. I don’t really see any appreciation for that in these posts.

            Also, to respond to the second part of this post. Research has shown that inclusion classrooms have minimal impact on students at the higher end of achievement, but have a significant impact on lower-achiever’s scores. I understand that you want the best for your child, but in my opinion (and maybe I will feel differently when it’s MY kids – but maybe not), what’s best for your child is to part of a society of well-educated people. If they are in a classroom that works slower than they do in general, but are still being accommodated somewhat, and their presence makes a difference to those who come from less secure backgrounds, in the long run they will be better off. They will have contributed to making our nation’s education have a stronger foundation, and we all benefit from that.

            On that same subject, addressing the last paragraph of this post: Do you support segregation of races? I would assume not. If you read anything at all on the subject of tracking, the sad, but undeniable truth emerges that when tracking is in place hardly any minorities make it into the highest tracks. How and why that happens is the subject of much debate, but as far as I know, no one disagrees that this deplorable phenomena occurs.

            So despite the challenges of trying to accommodate such a variety in one classroom, and despite the pangs of awful familiarity and giving less than the best to some of our students some of the time, I am for keeping things this way.

            If you’d like to take some time to stand in my shoes, and after taken things in from that vantage point have any suggestions to offer, I’d really appreciate hearing them.

            (And yes, I really did just take the time to write a nearly thousand word response to this, even though the original and subsequent posts are mostly from long ago and most of the responders will never see my words, because I was touched, disturbed, hurt, and moved by this issue and everyone’s thoughts on it. I came to this blog while researching what to do about my concern that in scaffolding and supporting our students with language needs we are losing and boring our kids who already have a strong vocabulary – which seems to be an inequitable practice in the opposite direction of the traditional form. I truly care and I truly would like to hear suggestions.)

          • Lisa Van Gemert says

            I really appreciate your taking the time to write this thoughtful response. While I disagree with you regarding inclusion in a broad sense (I believe strongly that gt kids deserve to spend quality and quantity time with other gt kids), I appreciate the insight you gave into the challenges teachers face on a day-to-day basis and that you proved by spending your time to write this that you, and many other teachers like you, care and care deeply.

            Lisa

      • val says

        Lisa, you sound like an actual, learned educator. You need to realize, however, that you do *NOT* speak for the teachers in our district. They have done many of the things on this list. We *DID* speak to the teacher, who ran crying to the principal. He observed our son in class and reported back to us what was happening. This is what he told us:

        “I observed the teacher giving the children a worksheet (assignment: to color the picture of the object that began with the letter of the alphabet being studied…then write the letter 3 times below the picture). Your son sat quietly at his desk, not moving an inch to pick up his crayon. The teacher kept giving him reminders to get to work, he still refused to move. When asked why he wasn’t working, he responded (respectfully) “I don’t want to color any more letter worksheets”.

        The teacher reminded your child that if he does not finish the worksheet, he will need to stay in at recess to finish it. Your child still did not move. Finally, recess came. All of the children went outside, while your son was told to stay behind. He cried for 10 minutes, refusing to color and begging to go play with his friends. The teacher stood firm. Your son finally grabbed a crayon and scribbled color onto the picture, and then sloppily wrote the letter 3 times. It was too late at that point to send him outside. He then sat at his desk sniffling for some time, not engaging in the lesson. Finally, he began to engage. This was repeated two days in a row.”

        Actually, this happened for nearly an entire week. My son reads at the 2nd grade level, and learned his letters back when he was 2. I had offered to bring in a workbook with pages more appropriate to his level of learning. She refused, insisting that our son “do the same work as everyone else. It’s about getting him to do as I ask, and not about the lesson. He needs to learn the structure of school, and it’s my job to teach that to him”.

        Translation: She believes it is her job to break his spirit just to control him. Instead of considering his needs, it is about getting him to comply to her will.

        Want to know what the principal said about it? He said that she was well within her rights and that the method “works”. Oh yes he did. Needless to say, we pulled our son out of school shortly thereafter.

        • Rachel says

          That’s so terrible!

          Obviously school must be all about teaching kids to bow to authority, rather than EDUCATING them.

        • Jen says

          This happened to my son as well…two days before I pulled him to homeschool him, at his request We talked with the teacher, with the principal, and with anyone else who would listen. I offered to prepare “extra” work for him and send it on a regular basis, so the teacher wouldn’t have to do that on top of her other duties – which she refused, saying that he needed to “learn with the other children whether he liked it or not.”

          My son is profoundly gifted; he taught himself subtraction through algebra when he was 6 and read “The Hobbit” with full comprehension and jr. high level analysis when he was 9. He was reading my college texts and discussing them at age 11, and earning a 4.0 in college at 15. He didn’t need “more” work, he needed broader and deeper work – discussion, analysis, discovery. This isn’t something that 99% of the schools out there could offer him.

          I’m not saying that homeschooling is the solution for all gifted kids; there are some teachers and classrooms that are specifically geared to their needs. When my son was young, he went to one of these schools and absolutely adored it. If we hadn’t had to move across the country, he would have attended there all the way through. What I am saying is a differentiated classroom doesn’t work for all children – some just need a more individualized solution and a teacher who is specifically trained to meet their needs.

          I’m a teacher’s kid, and my parents are excellent teachers. I grew up working and tutoring in their classrooms. I know exactly what goes into the job, and I respect teachers for it. I also know that there’s no way anyone could teach a child who is 3-6 years beyond his peers in just about every subject, discussing metaphysical concepts at 10 years old, through differentiation. There simply are children who need to have an education tailored to their needs AND someone devoted to guiding them through it, or they will never thrive.

          • Lisa Van Gemert says

            Jen,
            What a beautifully written description of what happens to so many kids. I think it can be done, but it’s hard and it requires a lot of training on the part of the teacher. I particularly love the way you described the kind of work he needed. Thank you! Lisa

        • ChiPper says

          That is so sad, and it’s exactly what my son experienced. It’s particularly difficult with 2-E kids because their disabilities often mask their abilities.
          I think the problems inherent in age cohorts is this, the subject matter is geared for the center of the bell curve. If a child is intellectually much “older” they will ceiling the curricula and how does the teacher know if that child is actually capable of functioning at jr high, high school or college level in some subjects?
          Leaving a child who is capable of calculus and reading Shakespeare languishing alongside kids who need help with reading sight words may be good for the sight word kids, but it’s wasting the brains — literally — of the kid who’s needs are never met and who’s potential is squandered.

          • Lisa Van Gemert says

            Sister, you are playing my song! I agree with you completely on every level. Can we be friends?
            Lisa

      • Jessica says

        These practices are NOT “days gone by”. Almost every school I went to in the entirety of my life was like this, and they still are. I was born in ’85. I was one of the kids that this was a problem for–it made me hate school. They repeated the SAME MATH year after year after year, let students pass barely being able to read or write and only knowing BASIC math (if any). I abhorred homework because it seemed like such a waste of time doing the same thing over and over and OVER. I learned things the first time. They put me in SPECIAL ED for one class in a couple different schools because they didn’t know what to do with me, since apparently TEACHING me was out of the question. Don’t you dare tell me school stopped doing this or that they would give a rat’s ass if anyone told them not to.

        • Lisa Van Gemert says

          I am reminded reading this of how lasting the damage done from this is. It is clear that your feelings about school run really deep, and with cause. I wish there were good research on the lasting effects of damaging schooling.

        • Rachel says

          My brother was born in 85 too, and both he and I experienced the same types of problems as mentioned here.

          I was better able to just put up with it and do all of the rote crap and get myself through the system and out the door. My brother (whom has an IQ slightly higher than mine) was not able to deal with it. He would answer one of each type of question on a homework and then not do the rest because he had already both learned and shown that he knew the material by doing the one question. So he got F’s because he never turned in completed homework.

          My mother fought and fought with the schools, but they weren’t interested in doing anything beyond forcing him into the mold. He even tried alternative school, but of course, they still wanted him to do all of the homework.

          Eventually he dropped out of school, as soon as he was 16, finished the equivalent 2 years of high-school curriculum in 2 months (the fasted the GED teacher had ever seen), and earned his GED at 16. And now he hates school, so he never went to college and now works repairing apartments.

          I think this is a really sad case. My brother is very smart and he could be benefiting society with that brain… making the next great invention or tech toy or something. Instead, he patches holes in drywall and paints stuff. He has also effectively taken a job away from someone who can’t do much more than those types of tasks.

          • Lisa Van Gemert says

            You know, Rachel, you really bring home the important long-term consequences of not meeting gifted kids’ cognitive needs. It’s not just limited to that grade. – Lisa

      • Patrice M. Saintsurin says

        Not so sure I agree with you. I do think most of the classroom problems can be attached to the teacher and her personal thoughts of a child.
        I think that a child needs to be challenged and it is the job of the teacher to come out of her world and go into the world of he child and try to find a way to help this child learn. This has to be the way. Sometimes the parents are not aware of how a child learns however as the professional you should be willing to help the child accelerate. The teachers need to wake up and teach a new way, maybe then the children will listen to what they have to say.

        • Lisa Van Gemert says

          Oh, I can’t agree that all the responsibility is on the part of the teacher. You can have a truly amazing educator and yet have a student with no desire to learn due to other issues unrelated to school or that teacher. The same is true of parents – not every parent of wayward child has done something “wrong.” It’s easy to lay the blame and responsibility on the educators, but the truth is that parents bear a large responsibility for the child’s attitude towards school and towards the teacher. Any parent who sends a child to school with the attitude that the educators need to “wake up” and do things completely differently than they are currently doing them is undermining his/her child’s education and is simply uninformed about the learner’s role in education.

      • Brad Erthal says

        I hope you’ve learned the lessons of this, and that generally, the instruction has improved. I’m 24 years old, though, and I was highly gifted. Every single element of this list applied to my elementary school education. After that it was a GT program in middle school and IB in high school so it got better. My parents were very smart and very engaged with my teachers and many elements on this list were the teacher’s response to my boredom. For instance, I was often simply given a greater number of asinine spelling exercises than my classmates, despite being the spelling bee champion of the school, and getting a minimum of 95% right on the pretest every week. It wasn’t different words, it was more lengthy exercises involving the same 20 words. And I’ll state it again to be clear, this was the response of the teacher after my parents complained that I was bored in the class to the point that I was simply refusing to do the work.

  1. frustrated says

    Spot on. Especially #10. My exact words about “educators” living in some alternate universe after a recent public meeting about the new reading program. Among other things, they kept referring to a listing of aspects/criteria, both orally and visually with powerpoint bullet points, that each had to be ‘mastered’ before a child would be permitted to go to another level. They then with a straight face kept saying “there is no checklist”. Alice in Wonderland comes to mind, too.

  2. Cynde Frederick says

    Hi Lisa,

    Just love this article—homerun! Found it making the rounds on Facebook. Thanks for all you do for our gifted kids. With just a little help from us, they will change our world!

  3. says

    You forgot some of my favorites: Read aloud a book just below their reading level (which happens to be a year above their age-grade), get almost to a really exciting part and then stop the story to check comprehension.

    Or insist they use context clues and predicting outcomes on a book she’s already read two years before.

    Do round-robin reading in class where every child reads one paragraph. Punish the gifted child for reading ahead while he waits for his turn to read. After all, all the children should be listening for fluency just like the teacher is, right?

      • Lexi says

        Round-robin reading was done in my high-school French class. Every day. For the entire duration of the class period. I can’t emphasize enough how infuriating it was – especially when I had a knack for the language and found it below my reading level anyway. So yes, it’s done.

      • says

        Hi Lisa,
        I read your response. I too was surprised that for the last 4 years my daughter has gone through this in what is considered an amazing school district. This amazing district has no gifted program available. They said what you said in a meeting “all are gifted and our curriculum is geared toward all gifted”. Well, my daughter scored a 159 on the WISC II and is suppose to be in 5th grade this year. I am homeschooling her for a year. She was not allowed to move up in math but they had me come in and teach her math 3 days a week during her math class. We left the class and had to sit on the floor to do math work that I supplied. We were not allowed in a room because of district policy. I complained to the school board and they were shocked that I was coming in to teach but said they had no program in place for my daughter. Just go along with it was the message. Now that I am homeschooling my daughter, she is about half way through 8th grade math/pre algebra. Yet, she was not allowed to move up in school??? She is working on a high school curriculum for reading and writing. I am scared to see what putting her back in school is going to bring. There is no consistency among school curriculum so it is hard to judge all situations from one viewpoint. I know there are a lot of good teachers out there but they have to be supported by the district.

      • Linda says

        My daughters second grade teacher gave her math work that was 3 grade levels above what she was doing and when my daughter asked her for help the teacher said no and told her to figure it out for herself. My daughter started crying. The teacher told me she did this so my daughter would know how other kids feel when they don’t know something. Yes, this happened and the teacher was “proud” of herself. My daughter still has no idea that she is a math wiz. When are teachers going to understand that gifted children don’t realize at a young age that they are gifted or any different academically than others. Most just want to be normal and have friends. Shameful.

        • Lisa Van Gemert says

          We call that bullying. Wow. It is just hard to get my mind around that kind of treatment. Thank you for sharing that story.

      • molly says

        ALL of my teachers do ALL of the above, even the “gifted” teacher! It drives me insane, especially in Language Arts!

        • Lisa Van Gemert says

          Well, Molly, I wish I was surprised. It’s why I became a teacher myself! I wanted to make it better. I hope I did, and there are a lot of teachers who are doing that, too. I’m sorry you don’t have them!

    • MomSix says

      This does not have to happen in a public school classroom. Gifted children should be served at their level, too, and are in some districts. If your district does not have a gifted program, get one started. Every child deserves to have an appropriate education.

    • Jen S says

      This doesn’t have to happen in a public school classroom. My older daughter is in a full time GT program through her school and is thriving. My younger will hopefully be in next year. I agree it’s difficult for her in mainstream classroom, though.

  4. Stacey says

    This was my elementary life and it sucked. Unfortunately, it still seems to be the norm even in programs which claim to differentiate.

  5. MrsB says

    This is almost perfect. You forgot “When they get finished early, make they tutor the other kids for the rest of the class”

      • Rhonda says

        That is ASSUMING that your gifted child is motivated enough to finish first……what about the ones that just sit there and do nothing because they checked out mentally from boredom?? Those kids are labeled slow or they must not understand the work! Not all highly gifted children get their work done first…..

        • Lisa Van Gemert says

          Motivation is certainly a core issue with gifted kids – I speak on it (and boredom, actually) a lot. Here are some things on the site related to it: http://www.giftedguru.com/?s=motivation. Teaching kids to not check out is possible – even in less than desirable situations. It really is one of the hardest things to deal with, but as we all know, boredom doesn’t end when the school bell rings. Developing coping strategies for dealing with it is a necessary tool for the toolbox for sure!

    • says

      That’s what teachers always did to me. Great way to make the other kids ‘like’ you. My son’s first first grade teacher completely missed that he had already known how to read. Wanted him on drugs to control him so he’d ‘pay attention’ Our doctor said the problem was the child was smarter than the teacher and she didn’t know what to do with him.

    • Audrey P. says

      I absolutely hate that! I am in eighth grade and my science teacher INSISTS that I “help the other kids” when I am done working! All they ever do is copy of my papers, but there’s nothing I can do. I dislike being responsible for other kids’ grades, and if they end up doing it wrong, both kids and teacher blame me. I am not the teacher, thank you very much. I’m just a student who happens to have memorized the periodic table.

      • Lisa Van Gemert says

        Yeah, Audrey, I agree with you totally. One of the problems with that is the gifted kids don’t learn in the same way, and so it’s not even really helpful. Lots of times it’s just obvious to you, and that makes it even harder to explain. Having them copy your work doesn’t help anyone. I’m really sorry about that situation. Lisa

    • WifeofBill says

      This has been the case with my son. He is a quiet kid, who finishes his work early, and then has been forced to tutor other students. It’s not my kids job to teach, it’s his job to learn. He would always say he didn’t mind helping the other kids, but when that became one of his main responsibilities in the class room I got ticked. The teacher was pawning off problem kids onto my elementary kid because he was “smart”. Ugh

      • Lisa Van Gemert says

        Grrrr! Making gifted kids tutor other kids is so stupid because they don’t even think like other kids! I feel so badly for your son – it’s like he’s being punish for being smart.
        Lisa

  6. Carrie says

    This is the best! I shared it all over the place. I know I myself am guilty of some of these things with my daughter because I’m learning how the gifted brain works as we go along.

  7. says

    OMG, this was completely my experience of grade school and why I loathed every moment of it. I used to ask teachers why they were always so upset with me for not doing my homework when I aced all the tests. Of course, this simply meant that I was an undisciplined smart ass. I don’t think the idea that they should have been giving me more challenging work ever entered into their minds.

    • says

      And on top of everything above, the feeling that you’re somehow failing people by being smarter than them. Like if you could just read at normal speed and think at normal speed and be normal they would be happier with you.

      I actually spent a few years intentionally lowering my grades so that maybe they’d start treating me like a real-live boy. My nose grew.

  8. says

    I especially liked the “fingernails on chalkboard.” It was hard to explain to people how my daughter was experiencing something like physical pain being in a regular class room. I felt like I HAD to home school – until she lotteried in to a gifted school.

    • EvA says

      I’m going to a school for gifted kids next year, but then I have to come back to my public school for high school. Like giving someone billions of dollars for two years, and then taking it all away. But at least I get two years.

    • Gifted Guru says

      I agree completely that these issues are a huge part of underachievement. It looks from your blog’s name that you are passionate about education, so I’m glad that wasn’t driven out of you.

  9. says

    On the other hand, if it weren’t for lousy teachers, I’d never have ignored entire classes all through high school and entertained myself by writing stories.

    Four novels published so far. Halfway through #5. THE SYSTEM WORKS!

  10. jenn says

    My kids are about as gifted as they come…i.e. topping out on all cognitive assessments. I find this article ridiculous and useless. What a joke and how prententious. Shame on you.

    • Gifted Guru says

      I’m so glad to hear your children haven’t experienced any of these problems. That makes me hopeful. I’d love to know where they go to school and what kinds of things teachers are doing to accomodate their giftedness. I know you meant this as a rude criticism, but I don’t feel that way about your comment.

      • jenn says

        I am very frustrated by lists such as this which I believe support gifted exclusion, more than inclusion. My intent was not to be rude, but rather was exactly how I felt at the moment I read the list with no filter.

        I see each of these ten things as teachable moments for ourselves and our children. Intelligence is a given, but it is so hard for gifted kids to assimilate socially and emotionally and there is no such thing as GT life or GT workforce. I think these are perfect opportunities to captialize on our kids’ intelligence and work toward solutions.

        I would like to see more acceptions rather than exceptions and more inclusion over exclusion.

        • Kate says

          Jenn,

          How do you think a normal child would respond to being forced to spend all his/her time with intellectually handicapped children? That would be considered child abuse, right?

          Yet, you’re advocating the same thing for gifted children and here is why: gifted people have different mental processes than normal people, even highly intelligent normal people. There aren’t – that I know of – systematic studies showing socialization of gifted people, but what I’ve observed is that “socially awkward” gifted people suddenly become well-socialized when they’re able to choose their associations on shared interests and similar mental levels.

          Forced integration does nothing but teach a gifted child that he/she is abnormal and has “something wrong” – even to the extent of convincing that child that everyone else is stupid and subhuman. Do you really want to do that to gifted children?

          Don’t get me wrong, all children need to know how to interact with a wide range of other people. Forced limiting of interaction and effectively shutting down a child’s abilities by refusing to allow any deviation from the normal path is not teaching gifted children to interact with normal children. It’s teaching them to despise normal children.

          • says

            ““socially awkward” gifted people suddenly become well-socialized when they’re able to choose their associations on shared interests and similar mental levels. ”

            Spot on. I would go to friends’ houses and hang out with their parents. Better conversation. When I chose my associates, they were almost always older and well-educated. Plus, I sucked at skateboarding.

        • Babs says

          Jenn,

          I understand what you mean. Sometimes, it seems like we talk a lot about what being gifted means, but not so much about how to fit kids into the mainstream. I’ve felt that frustration myself.

          My son experienced all of these things at points in his elementary education. In fact, we just read it together and had a good laugh. But, make no mistake, as frustrating as these things were, I never let him use his frustration as an excuse to not do the work. I remind him that “in the real world” of adulthood and work, there will be many mind-numbing projects. Hopefully, he will choose a career that fulfills him, but he will probably have to pay his dues to get there.

          That said, I think checklists like these, shared among the gifted community, allow an outlet for the frustration we all feel. It seems wrong to deny that he is frustrated. We need that outlet with people who understand what we are going through.

          When I’m communicating with my son’s school, I focus on the things that make him the same as his peers, not different. All kids get bored when they are forced to do work that is not challenging to them. I don’t want challenging work for my child because he is gifted. I want challenging work for my son because he is ready for it and how dare you, as an educator, refuse to teach him.

          • Eric K. says

            I know I’m coming in late here, so I’ll respond to a few things I’ve read.
            Do you really think you can compare occasional mind-numbing work projects with 12 years of mind-numbing paced education? Would you really stay in a job where you felt like that for anywhere near that long?
            Personally, having experienced a district that supported only moderately above average individuals and even had that program slashed while I was in elementary school, I couldn’t laugh at the list, just sympathize with the fact that NCLB has only made it worse since and hope that the list helps others understand and push for improvement.

        • Rik Smoody says

          No such thing as GT workforce???
          In the memorable past there have been NASA and Bell Labs, Xerox PARC, Sony Labs, Tek Labs, HP Labs, some “think tanks”, most university faculties…
          contrasted with the very honorable and necessary jobs such as grocery stores, plumbing, farming

      • fred says

        ^ And This is the best reply a blogger could ever make to a comment that almost hits the level of a troll. Well done, Gifted Guru.

  11. says

    This is SO true…these are the reasons I HATED school, and thus hated learning for too long! And a reason, among others, we are schooling our own at home!

  12. Liz says

    I actually went to a gift high school where most of the teachers were aware of this type of thing. Some of our new teachers weren’t and i would get into verbal fights with them in class and I would have to pull the guidance counselor in because i was so upset and frustrated. If the answer didn’t match the text book it was wrong even though well supported and I could not be told why it was wrong. Nor was i allowed to interact with older or younger children when i was in grade school. Yes i am finding all of this to be very true! I couldn’t stand i would not get hundreds for not showing my work. I would not even understand there was a step i didn’t show sometimes because i thought it was a given. Honestly if you have a very bright child who seems to have a behavior problem, pay attention to this post. I was lucky enough to be able to verbalize a lot of this when i was younger so i did not get into too much trouble. Excelent post!

    • Gifted Guru says

      Your comment about not realizing you’d missed a step because it seemed like a given rings so true. It seems like there are actually fewer steps to the GT kid, so the order “show your work” doesn’t really help.

  13. says

    My daughter could have written this list. When she explains why she hates school, she always mentions something from this list.

    Last year the “show your work” was a real problem, but this year’s teacher is better. Lately it’s the “read along at other’s pace”. And “more-ferentiation” was the big problem a few years ago.

    Fortunately, most of her teachers now know that when she is doodling or reading on her own, she is also getting what is being said in class. But it was a struggle to get to this point, and not all of her teachers understand this. So being scolded for not paying attention remains a problem.

    • Gifted Guru says

      Thank you for sharing what a difference a great teacher can make! Reading along is a constant issue for most GT kids.

  14. says

    “You’re so smart, you should be able to do this.” This is the best way to get a gifted kid to shut down like a check-out line at Wal-mart on Christmas Eve.

    That was me. I was never “gifted enough” to be singled out for the GT program, but just about every single one of your points rang true for me. I see it in my kids too, to varying degrees. Thanks for posting this!

  15. says

    Wow…such true words! The first program my district kicked when money issues became tough was the gifted program. It’s so sad that kids that are gifted are ignored while most of us are forced to teach to the middle or low end of the scale. It makes me nuts and I am trying to find ways to engage the higher kids without spreading myself to thin. It can be done, I just have to get it done since I know how it feels to be one of those kids.

  16. says

    I am in tears reading this, these are the exact reasons that I began homeschooling my son eight years ago. These things happened to him in second grade, he is in tenth grade and still remembers crying because he had to stay on the page during reading. He came home crying because he wanted to know the ending of the story. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  17. debbie says

    Well said! When my gifted son was in 2nd grade the teacher asked me to send some coloring books to keep him “busy” because he was bored with the material she was teaching! I suggested maybe offering material that would be more to his level – she was shocked – she stated that would put him ahead of the other students. News flash, he already was ahead of the other students.

  18. Judith Clark says

    My gifted daughter experienced these things, but was blessed enough to be placed in a gifted group during grade school that helped so much. Sunday School was a problem. Kids called her “the walking dictionary,” so she explained to me that she was faking being dumber in SS class so that the kids would like her. My sister and I started homeschooling her in 7th grade and found that the textbooks on geography and history were teaching the same facts she learned in grade school. She could go to the end of each chapter in the 7th grade text and answer all the questions correctly without reading the chapter! She finished all the high school work when she was 16. She got a lot of socialization in a community theater group. When she took the GED, we received a letter from that board that she had earned one of the highest scores ever. She went on to community branch of a state university and loved the challenges of difficult classes. She’s 28 now, still exceptional, home schools her children and is patient with me as I try to remember that when I explain something to her, her mind is several steps ahead.

  19. Rose says

    Add these to the list of reasons to homeschool. Every child deserves an individualized education regardless of what their special needs or special interests are. The best way to accomplish an individualized education is to stay out of school… At least until college.

    • giftedbutnotelitist says

      I still struggled in college, because the same things continue to happen. Gifted kids grow up to be gifted adults — with the same way of thinking, still as intense, complex and driven. Peers and instructors alike are intimidated and think I have an attitude problem or am abnormal. “So you think you’re so smart…” or “better than us”. Ignorance, yes, but even at graduate school level is hard to swallow when they are your professors.

  20. Cathy says

    Thank you for the humor this morning. As a GT resource teacher, I have had to deal with all 10 points–but what gets me most of all is the prejudice (jealousy, ignorance) against gifted learners from teachers and parents who have absolutely no clue. Every child has the right to learn something new, experience growth, and enjoy becoming the person they have the potential to be.

  21. says

    Wow. You just accurately described my daughter and her experience in a gifted classroom before I finally pulled her out. I didn’t do much better as her so she found a school that doesn’t annoy her to death and now she Loves school. Great post.

  22. Stacy says

    As a ‘gifted’ child myself, I can tell you these are ALL TRUE. For number one: I left highschool and went to college as a sophomore when it got too annoying. 2. and 3. have always been truly AGONIZING. And the rest? Each and every one as awful as the last. Thankfully since I was only in public school from 7th to 10th grade, I didn’t have to deal with the horrors for very long.

    Great list =]

  23. says

    I sent this list on our lower school teachers…we are very aware of all of these items on the list but it helps to remind any educator or parent from time to time about possible triggers for boredom, frustration, and withdrawal in education. One successful strategy that we have in our school for managing the multi-age question is to organize our lower grades by stages. Kids stay in a stage for two years and have two teachers they loop with. We call them first years or second years….and some remain in a stage for three years if they need more time to develop academically or socially/emotionally. They have built in older mentors and leadership opportunities in each stage. It also solves the playing with older or younger kids issue some kids face. Anyway, thanks for the post!

  24. Gwen says

    I had no end of trouble with this in school, from grade school through high school. In Kindergarten, no one would believe I knew how to read. The principal told my mother that I *could not* read, because they didn’t teach that until First Grade. So my mother dragged him down to the classroom, ostensibly to have me read something random to him. It just happened that the teacher had a migraine that day, and she asked ME to read to the class. The principal shut up…until second grade. I had spent all of first grade bored out of my skull. The public schools in Long Island would just write the assignments for the day on the chalkboard, and we would turn them in as we finished. I’d be done in half an hour, and be sitting there, staring at the wall. So it became the standard for me to have a perpetual pass to the library, and I was reading everything in the place.

    In second grade, the teacher continued this, and went a step further. She gave me her own copy of The Hobbit. This was too much for the principal, who pitched a snit about “reading beyond her level”. When I described in detail what I was reading better than HE could understand it, he shut up. He didn’t bother me again. Eventually, I read everything in the library in which I had the slightest interest, including the pamphlet file, and had listened to or watched every filmstrip and movie I could lay my hands on, regardless of grade level. I could thread and operate all of the various projectors, and even change the bulbs. (Yes, I was eventually an AV nerd. But that was high school.)

    Jr. High was a bit harder, but mostly because I kept getting beat up for being too smart. There was this gang that would single other kids out, catch them after school on report-card day, then take away their report cards and give them a punch for every grade difference. When they did it to me, I thought I had internal injuries. After that, I hid my smarts, much to my parents’ anger. They kept trying to “motivate” me, and get me to “excel”. My father threatened me. My mother guilt-tripped me. But frankly, I was more afraid of the kids, so I hovered right at a “B” average and refused flatly to go any higher where anyone could see it.

    In high school, that was less prevalent, so I relaxed a bit, and let myself do better. But there, it was the “hothoused kids” problem. They weren’t really trying to teach, they were just keeping you in a seat so they could check you off and get their money. Case in point, my physics teacher. She didn’t seem to GET that I was doing really well, *getting* what she was teaching, acing all of her tests and quizzes, and *using a slide rule* to do the calculations. Her thing was that I wasn’t turning in all of the homework. That was bringing my grade down. Without that homework, I was getting a “C”. So when I was reading a book on finals-cram day instead of studying, she spoke to me about it. I bet her I could ace the final, and asked if I did, would she give me a “B” for the semester? She said she’d give me a “B” for the YEAR. Everyone heard it. And when I got half a point away from a perfect paper and blew her curve out of the stratosphere, she asked me how I did it. I told her that if she had spent less time looking at her grade book, and more time looking at whether or not her students were *learning*, she would know already. The slavish adherence to procedure, just to follow procedure, is horribly damaging to minds that really want to LEARN. She could have had me on quantum mechanics, learning to do tensors, while the others struggled with gas laws — but no, she had to keep me chained down with the others, because that was *procedure*.

    I’m not a physicist now, much to my sadness. I’m a writer and webcartoonist. I get to do that because I’m disabled following a spine injury. Otherwise, I’d likely still be doing computer work.

  25. says

    This is a great list – and a perfect representation of everything that I hated about my educational experience growing up. I can offer specific examples of every items on this list (but won’t do so here). Our education system needs reform to meet the needs of ALL students, and that includes gifted children. People often think that gifted children – because of their ability to easily grasp concepts, learn what they are taught and get good grades – don’t need the same amount of attention that slower learners need, and this simply is not the case.

  26. says

    I had an English professor at junior college who went even further than #8. For three semesters, no matter what I did, I got was a big, fat F on almost everything I turned in. Occasionally, I’d get a D. He’s scribble proofreading marks all over it that he’d never taught us in class. When I asked him why I got an F or what the marks meant, he’d give me a smartassed look and say “You KNOW what it means” or “You KNOW why.” And trying to enroll in someone else’s class for that course didn’t work, because he was the department head and changed my schedule to put me in his class.
    Finally, with his class keeping me from graduating, I found out why he’d been doing this to me. Turns out I’d had about the highest English placement score in the school’s history. So he graded me on some scale that had nothing whatsoever to do with freshman English. According to him, I already knew everything the course was supposed to teach.

  27. giftedbutnotelitist says

    “To fully understand what this is like for a gifted kid, find a cassette tape and play it at half speed.” You get us! Now if only the rest of the world would just get even 10% of this. I know we should try to accommodate others, but I simply don’t know how to help “nongifted” folks understand “giftedness” as a different life perspective and experience.

  28. says

    Oh, yes, I have experienced most of these! (except the “let them read” part – I only wish! MY teachers would take my books away…) And don’t forget the bullying by other kids, making school even more of a torment. I entered school at 4 years old, already reading at a 3rd grade level and well on my way to a serious book addiction. In 3rd grade they had me evaluated by a psychiatrist because during recess I preferred to sit quietly in the sun and read a book of MY choice, instead of running around playing. Unfortunately, I attended school between 1961 and 1975, and how I wish that homeschooling had been an option then!

    • Shawn says

      Amen. I was constantly marked as anti-social, disconnected, and/or troublesome because I would rather have read a book during recess. Hell, I still get that from adults, when they find out I don’t own a television.

      And really, this entire list still annoys me as an adult, because I run into every one of these behaviors out of Authority figures, Management, and Family, and I’m in my mid-thirties….

  29. says

    I have also experienced much pain and anger due to similar experiences with the problems listed above, both in school, and out, in my attempts as a gifted child to enjoy the learning process, obey the rules, as wall as to achieve some level of healthy social interaction with my peers.
    In my experiences, and observations of myself, and other gifted people, I have noted that along with a gifted intelligence, we also have a tendency for strong emotions.
    Thus when an emotionally sensitive gifted child is exposed to continual abuse by average people, because of their higher intelligence, the gifted child is setup for social failure especially if that child is unable to cope with the inevitable negative emotions caused by the abuse. And is more likely to fail if they never receive proper psychological care to assist these individuals in their recovery from the damages caused by their strong emotional responses to the abuse they received as children.
    My theory as to why gifted children are subject to such abuse by average individuals is, that most average people are either jealous, or afraid of the gifted child’s higher intelligence.
    Thus average people are to some degree, taught by their parents, teachers, and society at an early age to fear, and distrust other people who they perceive to be more
    intelligent than themselves.
    As to how this irrational encouragement of ignorance by socially accepted abuse of gifted individuals began, one
    may find the answer in a closer examination of World History, by investigating the cultural changes throughout
    History in relation to noticeable alterations of religious thought.

    • Eric K. says

      No, normal people are definitely taught outright that gifted individuals are to be feared. Look at almost any super-villain and the standard is some dastardly cold and calculating, highly intelligent, ego-maniacal, sociopath/psychopath. Heroes, on the other hand, can be some dumb as bricks average Joe. Actually, it seems like it’s usually some dumber than bricks guy that the average person can feel smarter than. There are some smart heroes or (usually) sidekicks, but they seem to number far fewer than villains.

  30. Julie says

    What is it about the 2nd grade that seems to be such a trigger? My son is 7 and struggling so much in “gifted” public school. I’m just finding out that he is “twice exceptional” (has dysgraphia, so his written work is nearly illegible)…they keep throwing assistive technology at him that doesn’t work for him, which is just frustrating. It’s like “throw 100 things at the wall and see if it sticks.” He’s been told he cannot “read beyond his Lexile” (which was 10th grade in K) so he stopped reading anything but comics. His 2nd grade teacher tells me she “can’t teach him” and she “can’t possibly recommend him” for 3rd grade gifted because of his writing struggles…she’d send him to a regular classroom. What do you do when you battle the public school over a child with over 160 IQ who literally cannot perform (“show knowledge through writing)? I did find a private gifted school nearby that works purposefully with twice exceptional kids but cannot afford the $15k/year tuition.

    • Heather says

      If he has an official diagnosis of dysgraphia, the school MUST set him up with an IEP and then follow same. His disability cannot be used to deny him developmentally appropriate instruction. You have federal law on your side. Raise Cain till the school follows the law!

  31. Leslie says

    My older son was able to ‘get’ all the subjects easily. I kept telling teachers – simply give him an extra assignment. In 6th grade, they gave him an IQ test – and immediately changed his entire school plan – his only reason for not getting straights As – he ‘didn’t show the work’ too often. My younger son came home from first grade and said – they are teaching us the exact same thing we learned last year. We did not have as much success trying to get him into acceptable programs. He was invited into the International Baccalaureate Program – and while the High School bussed kids to the exact HS that offered the program for Vocational Classes, they would not bus him and we only had one car. And so, as a sophomore in high school, he tried to kill himself. That is the danger not mentioned in the article that can be a result in all of the issues he went through all the years of schooling. And he still wants to be a HS English teacher – I think they were the only teachers who saw his intelligence and ability for what it really was.

  32. Stephanie says

    May I be bold and say that this is a good way to annoy any child? But then maybe this is what is wrong with the “textbook” style learning so many of our public schools love so much.

  33. says

    I understand your anger, having experienced the gifted kid situation from both sides of the teacher’s desk. (Mini bio–I was one of those supposedly “gifted” kids in high school. Ahead of grade level in every subject, particularly math, but never permitted to skip. Graduated #2 in my class with minimal effort. Went on to double-major in chemical engineering and biology at MIT. Worked in biotech and software for 13 years and have been a chemistry & physics teacher for the last nine years. For many of my “gifted” students, I’m one of the few if not only “gifted” teachers they’ve had.)

    Most of your “top ten” list boil down to two — “keep them busy doing work that does not challenge them sufficiently” and “twist their self-identity as a gifted child into a way that makes them feel inadequate”.

    However, as a high school teacher in a math-based STEM discipline, I have to take issue with the “insist that they show their work” objection. The valid objection is to teachers who insist that all students are linear/sequential thinkers who work through every problem in the same step-by-step fashion, and who think that anyone who doesn’t write down the steps must be lazy. However, the global/intuitive thinkers who jump to the answer right away can often miss a minor but significant-to-the-problem detail and end up losing all of the credit for the problem. Having the kids back-fill the work after writing down the answer is a good way for the kids to catch these kinds of mistakes and a good way to develop the skill of demonstrating their solution to others, which is often a problem that “gifted” kids experience. I teach my global/intuitive students that it’s OK to write down the answer first, but filling in the work after the fact is almost as important.

    I should also point out that there are plenty of non-“gifted” global/intuitive thinkers. The same technique is useful for them. In working with these non-gifted global/intuitive thinkers, I’ve learned that they need to be taught in reverse–start from the endpoint/goal and jump back one step, then two steps, then three, etc. The same technique (but a few steps at a time instead of one) is what’s usually needed for the global/intuitive “gifted” kid who doesn’t see all the steps at once, but can get there from the halfway point. This is often the disconnect behind teacher saying things like “You’re ‘gifted'; you should be able to do this.” Behind that statement is usually a linear/sequential teacher who has absolutely no idea how global/intuitive learners think.

    • Gifted Guru says

      Here was my reply to someone who took issue with the “show your work” thing: Showing your work is useful when the teacher needs to make sure the kid knows how to get the answer or when the kid needs more practice in it (like geometric proofs). This doesn’t mean that EVERY time a kid does a problem they should have to show their work. Do you show your work in your checkbook? Do people still have checkbooks? Now, I will also say that I completely agree that knowing how you got the is sometimes overrated. This is called “verbal overshadowing.” We need to let kids go with their guts on stuff. For more on that, read Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink.” We can use that intuitive understanding to build and grow, rather than punish it. When I think that showing your work is deleterious is when 1) the work is so simple or so far below the students’ ability that it is merely doing it for the sake of doing it or when it is done without intention. I mean, if a teacher or parent is going to make kids show work, it should be thoughtful and able to be explained. For example, “I need you to show me in three problems that you followed the steps of this particular operation. After that, let me check it. If I can tell you’ve got it, you don’t need to show me any more.” Feel free to make a kid show his/her work a couple of times, but then for the love of Christmas move on. One of the hallmarks of a gifted child is the need for less repetition than the average bear. Their neural pathways are just more efficient like that. Let’s go with it!

      • says

        I think you may have missed the fact that I teach high school seniors, not second graders. No, I don’t make my students show their work for simple addition. I also give them full credit for a correct answer even if they haven’t shown work. However, some “gifted” high school seniors do the problem in their heads or on a calculator directly and write down only the answer. If the answer happens to correspond with a mistake that I can easily guess that the student might have made, I’ll give that amount of partial credit. However, “gifted” students tend to make clever mistakes, and not necessarily ones I can always figure out from just the number. When this happens, the “gifted” student gets a poor grade on a test that he easily knew enough to do well on.

        Moreover, it’s not enough for a “gifted” student to just be able to get the “right” (or almost “right”) answer. Knowing an answer is worthless if you can’t communicate why the answer is correct to the rest of the world. As I often say to my students, the answer is not the important part. The process is much more important. And the phrase “showing work” is really a misnomer. What students actually need to be able to do is to write a sort of mathematical proof of the answer, given the numbers provided in the problem and the applicable formulas. More shortcuts are allowed than in a formal mathematical proof, but a few key steps need to be there in order for their answer to be provably right. Most “gifted” kids don’t have a huge problem understanding this, though many of them are intuitive enough learners that it’s a hard skill for them to develop, and they resist because everything is “supposed to be easy for them” and if I’m making them do something they find difficult, it must be busy work and unimportant, right? And the bigger problem is often the parents, who get quite upset that if their little genius wrote down the number that matches the one on my answer key, it might not in some cases represent a sufficient amount of communication/proof to earn full credit.

        • Gifted Guru says

          Understanding the difference between process and product is a key idea in mediating perfectionist tendencies, and it sounds like you do a fabulous job of that. I think that we can both agree that many time kids are asked to show their work on low level assignments for which the teacher is well aware the child knows the process extraordinarily well. I don’t disagree with you, I just think that there is a limit. It sounds like you’ve struck a balance. I wish I didn’t think you were unusual in your skill.

  34. Rachel says

    Dear God. This is my life in public school. I’m 17, a junior in high school, and my only saving grace was being allowed to take AP classes this year. Elementary school was especially torturous, and I think most of my teachers tried to actively stamp the giftedness out of me because apparently I was interfering with everyone else’s education.

    • Gifted Guru says

      That makes me soooooo sad. I remember when I was a junior sitting in AP US History thinking, “If I have to sit here five more minutes, my brain will literally explode.”

  35. Patricia says

    Shamus Young, the creator of the hilarious “DM of the Rings” webcomic, wrote a 40-post “autoblography” last year that told a lot about his struggles as the educational system tried to grind him into educator-approved sausage. He managed to make this tale entertaining, empathetic, and inspiring. Here’s a link where all the posts can be found, but scroll down one more to the post called “Ding 40!” that introduces it all. http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?cat=16

  36. says

    My first grade teacher (I learned this years later) noticed that on the day she gave us our reading books, I had read it in a few minutes and was looking at the vocabulary words in the back. I owe her for basically promoting me to second grade a day later.
    Many years after that, I was working as a college department secretary, and they were very concerned about me looking busy all the time, so when I finished all the work for my department, I was given work from other departments whose secretaries were therefore being rewarded for being slow and inefficient. I was lucky to escape that place not long after. I suppose I was replaced by somebody who either played the game better or just couldn’t work as fast, but I never went back to find out.

  37. roadracingworker says

    Wow! I sincerely wish I’d seen this list in about second or third grade. I suffered from most of these throughout school – and as a result, never learned to STUDY properly. That rose up to bite me big time in college…

    • manderzzzz says

      YES. The same thing happened to me. I never learned to STUDY for any of my classes. In high school, I was taking a full load of AP classes, and unfortunately, with my study skills (or lack thereof), did poorly in my classes. It took me until college before I started to learn a skill most kids learn in early elementary school.

  38. Richard says

    The article, and the comments, all seem a little smug and self-satisfied. Us regular folks apparently don’t realize what a burden it is to be gifted or have a gifted child.

    • Heather says

      Why should you? Do you understand what it’s like to have a mentally disabled child or to be one? The difference is a matter of degree only–except that the mentally disabled are not expected to conform to a mean that is unattainable for them, while intellectually extra-able folks are far too often expected to conform themselves to a mean that is, for us, the same as asking you to spend your life at the level of an intellectually disabled person. If you’ve never read the short story, “Harrison Bergeron”, by Kurt Vonnegut, you should.

  39. Shawn Pilj says

    I too suffered from these things as a child. I am now the mother of 10 children, 7 of which I homeschool. The other 3 are adults. Each of them is at a different level of gifted. I even have one who is struggling with reading, but if read to understands most everything, no matter how advanced. The problems with the public schools result from them being a glorified day care, but aren’t held to the same child adult ratio (5/1). Classes should be no larger than 10, and those should all be on the same or similar learning path, and if an individual is able to manage college level course work, then they should be allowed to do so and receive college credit for it too. Homework should be a thing of the past, our children should belong to us and God after 2 or 3 in the afternoon. Time to learn how to work, play or read as they desire. Time to include God in their daily lives, and spend time doing things with their families, and getting an appropriate amount of sleep.

  40. runnergirl says

    To the parents of a gifted child, I’m sure this blog is very amusing and speaks to numerous frustrations. To those of us not familiar with your children’s challenges, it is unbelievably obnoxious and patronizing. It’s too bad the post is so offputting – as I really did learn a lot. I have to say, I’m not sure I would be “posting” this all over twitter and FB – really not the way to garner support.

    • Adrienne Doolan says

      Hi runnergirl. When you have to keep changing schools and pulling your hair out and listening to so called educators, you would find these 10 points really funny.

  41. says

    #8 and #10 annoy me the most. Maybe 10 is more my left over frustration from my own years in school but still. My oldest who is now in third grade has been reading at a 9th grade level since 1st grade. He has scored off the chart for math since they began testing. When I went to the superintendent about skipping because the principal said we don’t do that even though he spent the second half of kindergarten IN the first grade class most of the day. He only scored a 75% on a writing test so he was not allowed to skip instead of being given the chance. I KNOW he would have worked outside of school to get better and I KNOW that kids were passed to the next grade with worse grades on the year end test than that!!!!!!!!!!!! So so annoying as a parent.

  42. Tina Siefert says

    Here’s one to add – make your gifted children do lots of group work, with students who aren’t as advanced, and then wonder why said children get angry when the others don’t think like they do. OR, make group work a huge part of the gifted curriculum, even though you have several children in that enivironment who are on the Autism spectrum, and for whom group work is just. plain. painful. That will force them to have interaction with their peers. That’s my struggle right now.

  43. Clint says

    11. When they get bored and give up on your “learning process” repeat the phrase “not working to their potential” over and over again to their parents and anyone else that will listen and make sure that they can overhear you. Be sure to put it in big red letters on their progress reports too. Enjoy the vandalism to your car later!

  44. Adrienne Doolan says

    Just came across this today, and how my “gifted son” roared laughing and said “see mum”.
    I also have to admit to being guilty of at least one or two points.

  45. Pamela says

    I experienced many of these childhood frustrations, especially #3. This article was fun to read and I really wanted to agree with it, but find I can’t. I grew up in a sparsely populated area. I’m not sure that I was gifted, but many of the children in my area were what would be considered “behind” and we were all taught together.

    Yes, it was frustrating at times. My mother considered sending my sister and me away to a bigger school with more opportunities. My sister would agree with your article 100% and resents not being given a better education. I wouldn’t change a thing! I work in a stroke rehabilitation center. Sometimes, it takes a patient with aphasia a very long time to ask for something simple like a Sprite. As annoying as #3 is, I can think of few things in my educational background that better prepared me for my work.

    I am grateful for your article because it is helping me think through a current issue. 8 y.o. mini-me, who is schooled at home, is experiencing most of the frustrations you listed in church/Sunday School. She is wanting to move up to the older class. I remain undecided.

  46. Lara says

    I was bored all through school as well. (Tested as a first grader to have a college freshman reading level.) I had the most wonderful teacher in 2nd grade – Mrs. Westerman – who saw me blow through the ‘advanced’ reading book and gave me a stack of classics to read. My son went through public school as “gifted” and is a junior in college. My daughter has been homeschooled since 1st grade and I’m thinking she’s also gifted. I’ve been making her show her work in math because she just blows me away with her correct answers – maybe I’ll calm down on that point!

  47. ESimpson says

    So – what’s the answer? How do we change an entire nation of public education school systems? Don’t you think that gifted educators are aware of this problem, but do NOT have the leverage to change it? See the youtube video “Changing Education Paradigms” by Ken Robinson. It’s interesting.

    • Brandi says

      I’m not sure that gifted specialists *do* see it. In some places, they simply are teachers who want to work with gifted kids, not necessarily people with extraordinary training to be able to do so. I think the first step in many places is to train people to deal with the issues that gifted kids face.

      Our old school district had one gifted coordinator for the district while we had 2-3 specialists for special needs (and yes, I know there’s overlap) per school. How is that a just system? States spend an average of 10x on special needs ed that they do on gifted ed. We need to push for the funding and education within our school districts to make sure that the people “in charge” can identify and serve the gifted population.

  48. Dwight says

    This is probably the most pretentious article and comments section I’ve ever read on the internet, and that’s saying something.

    “My gifted kid…” this, and “My gifted kid…” that… It’s disgusting. All kids are gifted in their own ways. No one wants to hear you brag about how much better you think your kid is than other kids. School is not just about learning as much as you can as fast as you can, it’s about mastering the material, and more importantly, it’s about social skills, which is a department many of these “gifted” kids are sorely lacking in

    • Gifted Guru says

      Dwight, Really? The most pretentious? More than Paris Hilton? I’m flattered. I disagree: not all kids are gifted. Everyone has strengths, but high general intellectual ability is not a universal trait (by definition). Sharing the challenges of it isn’t bragging. Your attitude is exactly what makes it hard for gifted kids. Would you say it was bragging if someone said they had a learning challenge? Well, being gifted IS a learning challenge if you’re not placed appropriately educationally. It’s not bragging to acknowledge who you are. It’s not bragging to say that you sometimes literally can’t face school because you’re so handicapped by your inability to get anyone to understand that just because you can ace all the tests, you still have struggles. Gifted kids are no more lacking in social skills than typical learners, and I think the tenor and tone of your comment prove my point. Dwight, you’re exactly why I wrote this. And why it needs to be said. Thank you!

    • susan says

      Dwight.. Stating that gifted kids are lacking in social skills is exactly the point. It is called Asynchronous Development. Gifted kids in particular develop different skills at different rates, which does create more challenges for them than the “average” child. Many of these children are exceptionally smart and do have social (or other) deficits that need to be addressed. The assumption in society is that these children are smart so they will be okay. But that is not the case at all. And it is not about who’s kid is smartest, it’s about addressing their unique developmental needs to ensure they become well rounded, well adjusted and successful members of society down the road.

    • Kim Ringle says

      Congratulations Dwight!
      You’ve successfully shown that you have probably followed all 10 steps including the bonus points.
      I’m going to take a wild guess that you are a teacher who can’t understand these “socially weird kids” and feel threatened by what you can’t understand. I had plenty of teachers like this, unfortunately, now my HG son has to deal with them too.
      Wish they would learn from the article but think it just makes them defensive.

      Thanks Gifted Guru loved the article and some great comments!

    • Kim says

      Its funny in a way. I have run into this many times. It’s the wording. It’s the term “gifted” that set so many people off thinking you are bragging. That is a common thing we have heard much. At our house we call the children who are gifted, “Highly Academically Talented” or for short we say my son has “Hats”. I can then when asked explain what it is and people aren’t offended nearly as often as when I say I have a gifted child. Technically I think gifted is a correct term. What we are talking about here is being gifted when it comes to academics primarily. The other thing that’s funny is the same person could hear a kid play a concert piano piece and say, That kid is gifted. That wouldn’t be offensive or bragging at all.

  49. says

    Add: “You get a 99, even though you got every question right, since nobody’s perfect.”

    When I was growing up, that was probably the first time I thought “INSERT BAD WORD HERE.” and really meant it.

  50. says

    and let us never forget that Gifted Children are NEVER ever Learning Disabled. All Learning disabilities are for stupid kids.
    i was not allowed into the Gifted program at my school because i kept having poor grades in math and science, despite reading at a measured level of “higher than an average college graduate” in 4th grade.

    I was diagnosed as having seizures in senior year… so much for “just not paying attention” i was having seizures .
    I got my Dyscalculia diagnoses 10 years after i graduated. Along with my kinesthetic sense issues which made gym and other physical skills a living hell.

    26 years after HS i finally got over the PTSD enough to try college.

  51. says

    There is a great TED talk which discusses how this “fitting in” approach also fails to nurture children with the right personality and mindset to be entrepreneurs. The problem is deeper than “gifted” children. Schools are designed to train (not teach) people to be conforming mid-level employees for exactly the kinds of jobs that are disappearing today. Being “different” isn’t just for the “gifted.” It’s for “average” people forced by the times to change careers multiple times in life, hustle in small businesses and freelance gigs to keep money coming in after layoffs, and career professionals who need to “brand” and “sell” themselves through creative means.

  52. Lex says

    you forgot “surround him with anti-intellectual bullies who beat him up and call him ‘faggot’ for enjoying things like reading and learning.” Oh, and of course, assume he has no interest or skill in athletics since no one smart EVER likes sports as well.

  53. Kathryn Corey says

    I’m a teacher at a private Christian school- I teach science to 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. I also teach a STEM class twice a week. I feel like I work 24/7 and get paid a salary that would be considered poverty level if I was the only breadwinner. I have been asked to differentiate for three of my “gifted’ 8th graders. The problem is that they don’t even understand all of the concepts I am teaching- physical science. The other problem is I barely have time to breathe during the day and average over 10,000 steps a day (I monitor it with a pedometer). When am I supposed to do this? I have four levels of science to plan (labs included) and a technology class also…..please recommend a book for me on how to do this….I need help…..so tired!

    • Gifted Guru says

      The biggest mistake teachers make when they hear “differentiation” is that they think they have to come up with two extra levels of work – one for the kids above grade level, and one for the kids below. Not true. Start at the top. When you’re planning a lesson, think, “What could my best kids do?” plan for that, and then differentiate down by pulling out or slowing down. Gifted kids have the ability to learn novel information more quickly, so even if they don’t know all the concepts you’re teaching, they have the ability to acquire them faster than a typical learner. Here are my suggestions:
      1) Ask if your school can purchase a few quality books on differentiation. My fave publisher for these is Corwin Press. They will give you specific strategies that I don’t have space to do here.
      2) Use an Interest-a-lyzer to find out what the gifted students’ interests are, and then let them extend beyond the classroom work (when they’ve done what they need to do) in areas of their own interest.
      3)Planning ahead is key. Teaching is a marathon with sprints in the middle, and you’ve got to plan your rest breaks. Sometimes we get so busy that we almost lap ourselves. Four preps is too many to try to alter at one time. Pick one level where your GT kids are clearly in need of something different and focus on how you can make some slight alterations there. If you try to do it all during the middle of the year, you will drown. Make notes to yourself this year about where your GT kids could have gone more quickly or delved more deeply. This summer, look at those notes and see what alterations you could make next year to accomodate that.

      The truth is that GT kids well-served are the best-kept secret in education. They are the best at showing appreciation for a class well-taught because it’s so rare for them. They will actually end up helping you with things that will save you time in the end (and I do NOT mean tutoring other kids). Let them study ahead and design and implement the bulletin board for an upcoming unit. Let them write the test. Their own grades can depend on it. There are a million ways to differentiate without tears. Let your own innate creativity supercede your initial inclination to panic.

      This is the short answer, but I’ll give more. Be sure to check out the resources for teachers section in the resources page of this website.

  54. Ali says

    I find this article incredibly fascinating!!

    I myself am a gifted student and I can relate to this completely! Going through school with all of the tests, and homework is terrible by nature, but when I don’t have something difficult to focus on, It is basically impossible.

    The worst part is that many teachers get upset with me for “doodling” because they assume that means I am not paying attention to them. However, sometimes I take notes in picture while absorbing a lecture or I write lots of notes with side comments that I may have connected to my life to make memorization easier, but they (the teacher) may not understand.

    My mom knew I was a gifted child by the time I was in first grade, but school programs for gifted children were not available at that time. Thankfully she has been a public educator for over 20 years and she figured out a lot about how to identify and work with gifted children before I was born.

    I had a lot of help from her when I was in k-12, my teachers didn’t understand a lot about gifted children when I was younger but she was there and taught me the communication skills to advocate for myself. I am now in college studying business, living on my own and supporting myself financially by working in a restaurant, and continuously training and performing in some form of the arts. (maybe having a well rounded resume will help me remain employed in my future of the American recession….)

    Even still, age 19 and a sophomore in college…I am dealing with this issue of being ahead of the lecture.
    however, what bothers me is not the students who are confused, but the lack of knowledge from the teachers on how to deal with a gifted child.

    I have realized that without my mom’s knowledge of how to deal with being gifted, I may not have turned out the way I have, and I am so thankful to have had someone who’s profession is working with gifted children to show me the way.

    Unfortunately, the rest of the world may not be that lucky… so people need to know this information! Thank you so much for posting this!

    I Loved reading this!

    ~Ali

    • Gifted Guru says

      Ali,
      You bring up so many key points, not the least of which is that if parents are bright, they need to be prepared to parent and advocate for gifted kids. I’m sure that one reason your mom was so ready to help you was not just her professional preparation, but also because she, too, had endured some of the same experiences. Thank you for this thoughtful and inspiring comment, and best wishes to you in all of your future endeavors.

  55. Michelle says

    I love this site one of my professors sent me the link after meeting my gifted son, He was suspended from school one day and had to join me in class; It was a 300 level Eng course. I have never seen him so engaged. He was still talking about what we covered in class the next day. This was amazing to me as I thought he was not paying attention because he was playing on his, I-pod and computer the whole time; Which is what he got suspended for in the first place. I think it is sad that his extraordinary ability to multitask and focus on more then one thing at a time was punished. No one bothered to find out what he learned during the 5th grade lesson he was supposed to be ignoring. I think he enjoys the extra stimulation that makes his mind work a little harder to keep work that is not challenging him a bit more tolerable.

  56. Cathleen says

    I enjoyed your list. It brought back some of the trauma from my misspent youth but at least it acknowledges the torture of schooling. Yes, I can be labeled as gifted. Yes, I read before kindergarten and had to prove it to the “authorities”-I even had to bring my mother to school to prove my name was spelled with a “C” and not a “K”, never-mind all the paperwork was written with a C.
    My mother kept asking for forgiveness, for sending me to public school, until I was 30. It was that much of a torture and my folks knew it but didn’t know what to do.

    I managed to give myself a classical education simply by looking at historical accounts of education and reading the books listed on my own time. I would not do homework unless I did not understand what the object lesson was but I received A’s on the tests and a lot of “not working up to ability” on my report cards. Luckily, my parents knew what was going on so they did not object if I received C’s because ” homework was half of the grade”.

    However, I don’t believe that these are issues restricted to the gifted. Currently, education is so dumbed down that the general population of school children are loosing patience with the process. The solution? Medicated the children when they show a spark of life until they can all sit as quiet little machines being programmed rather than encouraging uniqueness and teaching that which interests the child.

    I would never have a child in a public school. I have watched as the spark of inquisitiveness has been turned off in my nieces and nephews. They are not gifted but the hell they have been/are being put thru is worse than what I remember.

  57. K says

    Unfortunately these things still happen. My daughter had a teacher in 4th grade (two years ago) who punished her for finishing early, and even called her a liar “You couldn’t possibly have read that entire book in that amount of time.” Yes, a child with an IQ in the 99.9 percentile can read that fast. When my daughter asked us what she should do when she finished early, we suggested that she draw quietly on the back of her paper. She was severely chastised for doing so. Later, the teacher said something in class about showing the gifted kids that “they weren’t that smart.” We complained to the principal. My daughter was switched to a different teacher who didn’t differentiate but at least wasn’t mean. Unfortunately, the offending teacher is still teaching, and the local university sends student teachers to train with her. Unbelievable, but true.

  58. James C. Daniels says

    My G & T daughter took many of these listed items in stride during K-12. Local newspapers ran articles about her and five male classmates who earned National Merit Finalist status senior year. She attended a small, liberal arts college on full academic scholarship and now is a chemistry Ph.D. candidate. One of the others attended MIT; two others attended state schools on academic scholarships. I recall little if any other coverage of academic performance. More prevalent are articles about students who receive athletic scholarships. We and our society need a better balance between academic and athletic coverage in mass media.

  59. says

    I was a gifted child, but they kept bringing me back. (Joke)

    I was a nerd before it was cool (1950s). The major problem I had was a mother who told me I was superior to the other kids — and not to hide that fact. I developed an attitude that got the $%^& beaten out of me on a regular basis.

    After skipping a couple of grades, I was physically uncoordinated compared to the other kids.

    I never had kids. I didn’t want to damage a young soul the way mine was.

    • Gifted Guru says

      That is so sad. It speaks clearly to the idea that there are psycho-social implications of giftedness, as well as cognitive ones.

  60. Jaiyi says

    Wow. Thank you. It gives me so much hope that there are people who acknowledge my existence.

    It also help me understand why I absolutely hated high school when I moved out of my gifted elementary school into the IB program. Now I just can’t wait to graduate and be integrated into the “real world” that high school is supposedly preparing me for.

    • Gifted Guru says

      I think this post resonates with parents because it is so common to see at least some of these things happen. What surprises me is when teachers defend the practices. I was a teacher, so I understand the constraints of the classroom, yet I don’t think these are necessary. Best wishes to your son!

  61. says

    We went through every single one listed while my oldest son was in public school. He was absolutely miserable. Especially when he was told to sit down and shut up because he knew the answer and was told they wanted him in their class for his test scores. We have been homeschooling for 10 years and have not regretted it.

  62. Chris W-G says

    As a ‘gifted’ student in my younger days, I agree with all of these except for “showing your work”. As a math teacher, I have plenty of intelligent students who drift through, thinking their talent allows them to get the right answer without work. It is always a nasty shock when they discover they have made plenty of mistakes, then can’t figure out why without any work. Teaching a student to not show their work is merely setting them up for failure when the work gets harder. Showing your work is about being rigorous, not about punishing smart students for working quickly.

  63. Jaq says

    Lots of interesting perspectives here. I find it interesting that no one has even mentioned Montessori as a method of education (and yes, it’s expensive here too.) But neither of my daughters has ever had to endure any of the above, except for a single time when the student teacher was hurriedly removed from the class for a horrified explanation of why we don’t treat all the children exactly alike. (My 4yo daughter refused to write ‘a’ on her little blackboard – she filled it with a-word sentences instead.)

    Montessori embraces the fact that chronologically-organised classes are insane for everyone, not just the gifted, and a three-year range helps honour the different developmental levels of all children. Yes, a gifted child will still top out, especially when they are in middle or top age range, but by not expecting everyone to be the same in the first place, being ‘different’ is the norm! Most importantly, Montessori teachers are trained to look at what each, individual child needs to learn and grow, wherever they’re 5 or 15, intellectually or chronologically.

    My daughter’s teacher organised for her to attend the creative writing club, even though she was technically three years too young. He lets her read ahead when the class is reading a book – on the condition that she doesn’t spoil it for the other kids. He teaches her how to interact with the other children in her class, and to respect their strengths and weaknesses in the same way they respect hers.

    In the long term, I think that is the most valuable lesson she will gain from her Montessori classroom – the people skills, the coping skills, because she’ll never be ‘normal’. But if she learns to be respectful without hiding her own talents, then she’ll get on better in whatever she chooses to do. And frankly, I don’t think the gifted community deals well with this challenge. I know learning to deal with the idiots it took me years … and lots of people who have commented obviously haven’t figured it out yet either.

  64. says

    Just try having the teacher decide she doesn’t want your gifted child in her class, it is too much work to keep her busy. I agree the child needs to be held accountable for their behavior, but shouldn’t our educators be accountable for supplying the materials they need for learning. Try having your gifted child expelled from school on the 4th day of Kindergarten, just because they require more work then the other children in the classroom. I know that not all teachers and schools would do such a thing, however we are not as fortunate to live in one of those school districts.

  65. chris says

    This is a funny, but im sure frustrating list for many of you. I agree with the majority of your points and sympathise with your difficulties in the classroom.

    There is a lot of bitterness in the posts that follow. By all means let off some steam, but i just hope that you are not doing so in vein. I hope that you are supporting the teacher and the school because the challenge of supporting gifted students becomes exponentially more difficult if the teacher is not supported or even berrated. It really is a team effort. And i will quiet happily admit that i do not have the perfect solutions sitting on my desk.

    Im a young teacher and we have been taught to maintain high expectations for all students. so your point at number #9, if the student doesnt perform at their best I agree its not the end of the world. But should we not help them to reach their potential, and aim for those high but achievable expectations?

    I also agree with showing your working out in mathematics.Yes it may be mundane for them. Mathemagicians in real life are expected to show their working. Scientists are expected to supply evidence. Yes even teachers are expected to show constant rubrics and results to justify our analysis of your students.
    Let alone the fact that if your child makes 1 mistake in 1000 then the teacher can analyse the mistake to find out exactly where they may have gone wrong and HELP them.

    I agree that gifted students are often neglected in classrooms. Indeed if i analysed my own teaching i would put more time into bringing students up to standards rather than extending students who are working beyond standards. Reading this article will make me put more time into offering students higher quality support and differentiation in the opposite end of the spectrum even if they are not officially ‘gifted’.

    I understand that you all want what is best for your children. However, you must also be aware that your child, gifted or otherwise is 1 out of 20-30.

    put yourself in the shoes of the teachers. if you do the maths a 20 student classroom for a 6 hour day. That’s about 18 minutesof individual attention per student. Any teacher would contest that you would be lucky to give every student 5 minutes of individual attention in a day. Now add in the chaos of a school day. Differentiation can work, but it is never going to be ideal for every student.

    Support your teachers because they probably need it!!!

    • chris says

      for #9 i agree with you that if they can clearly show an understanding of mathematic tasks (e.g addition or simplfying fractions) then yes it is ok to only show working for the first few questions. As long as they understand the process.

      But if the GAT student is comfortable with the process. Doing 20 questions instead of 4-5 would beequally as mundane.

    • Gifted Guru says

      Although I’m no longer teaching, I was a teacher for a decade, so I totally agree with supporting teachers. I also agree that we should help children achieve, but with gifted kids, the problem is often debilitating perfectionism. Best wishes to you in your teaching career.

  66. Kim says

    I read through most of these before as a gifted person I got bored of reading the same things over and over. I have 3 GT children and one very smart but not gifted child. There is a difference. But, though I agree with the list. I also think one of the best things I have given my child is not their education. For me, I feel that the most important thing I have found I have given my son is teaching him to be well rounded. To learn to interact with kids his age and older and younger. To be able to communicate well and have patience with people who are dumber than him. His whole life he will have to do some of that. Learning how to balance that with keeping things in place so he still loves learning is the best thing I could do for him. Homeschooling would have been the worst thing I could have done for him. It’s about finding what’s right for your child. There is something to be said for doing the “annoying work” that is below them because they are told to. That doesn’t mean that while I expect my child to do that work becuase his teacher asked is where I leave it. He does the work his teacher asks becuase that shows respect. But while he does that I work with the teacher to help her learn these things on this list about my child. For us public school has the perfect answers right now. They have accellerated him in certain subjects moving him up with older kids in some subjects yet leaving him to still socialize with his own age at times of the day too. Being an involved parent is the BEST thing you can do for your child when he experiences some of the above frustrations.

  67. DG says

    Funny article! One of the fundamental problems in identifying GT children is that no two are alike. Giftedness has many faces, which makes identifying effective teaching strategies extremely difficult. Some, like superior math skills, are easier to identify than others. I had a very hard time in school, as my cognitive strengths are in creativity. I felt a great deal of alienation from my peers, and in my adult life, it’s a feeling that still persists, but now I have the ability to seek out and choose my friends peers. In my public school days, my boredom and feelings of alienation turned to frustration and depression, and as a result, I developed some behavioral problems. I can’t tell you how many times I was labeled a “smartass,” and my parents and the administration soon became on a first name basis. The result? When a team of psychologists and psychiatrists were unable to reach an agreed consensus as to what was wrong with me, the solution was to put me into special ed classrooms which needless to say didn’t help my alienation. I didn’t attend college for years, feeling that I was intellectually inferior; what else was I supposed to think? When I finally did enroll into a state school, I did exceptionally well. Those subjects that I finished high school enrolled in a state special ed program? I ended up working as a tutor. As a child, I didn’t have a say in the matter, and even if I did, it wouldn’t have mattered considering I didn’t understand what was wrong with me other than what had been made strikingly clear: there was “something wrong with me.”

    So in closing, it’s very easy to narrowly define what creativity, intelligence, or GT is, but there is no easy answer. Howard Gardner wrote several books on the subject in which he suggested that there are multiple forms of intelligence such as spatial, emotional, etc. For me, I suppose I should be proud and happy for the special abilities that I have, but to be honest, after my experience in public schools I would have traded it in a heartbeat to be “normal.”

  68. miss guided says

    My school had a gifted program.. for the last term of each year myself and four others were place up one grade level.. this required us to complete that grades work for the year in one term (this was never that much of a challenge). The next year we would then stay at the same grade and having already done the work in the previous year, we would assist the teacher for the next two terms until it was time to put us up a grade again.
    A completly pointless programme that was of no benifit to any of us apart for the teacher, who gained class assistants for two terms. We were completly alienated by the rest of the School. For our final year at school we were given our own mezzanine space above the rest of the class(the resource room), where we were allowed to complete the class work at our pace then could raid the resource room for anything of interest… would have been great but anything available was for lower grades than we were capable of … though we did manage to have some amazing discussions and devised some fasinating projects for the science fairs.
    Of the five of us, I was the only one to go on to university, two commited suicide, one got caught up in drugs in her final year at high school, and the fifth was hit by lightning in a freak accident at high school and he suffered severe brain damage. It saddens me, as we all had exceptional gifts that were realised but not allowed to develop, we were allienated by the system they put in place for us. We were used to the schools advantage and never given any of the support we needed.

    • Gifted Guru says

      It is very sad what can happen when gifted kids aren’t appropriately placed educationally. It can be really hard to tease apart all the reasons. I hope that you had a better experience in college!

  69. says

    I like your sense of humor and love contents on your site. Among amidst of all the anxiety and worry, being able to look at it on the bright side and laugh is golden. Thanks.

  70. Cath says

    Even though it seems like most commenters are parents, I just FEEL the need to comment, especially after reading some of the posts.

    I’m a teen, I have a high IQ, but I’ve never been labelled as ‘gifted’ (mainly because, where I live, it’s almost a ‘taboo’), even though everything I’ve read about the subject is my exact description.

    When I was in 3rd grade, my teacher used to call me names because I would finish before others, and she’d be glad when I got an answer wrong (which wasn’t often). I hated it, but still continued my way.

    Afterwards, from 4th grade through 6th grade, I was in this program that was concentrated, but it was still too easy for me.

    Now, I’m in a normal program and I’m in 8th grade, and I HATE IT. Where I live, there aren’t programs for ‘gifted teenagers’. My parents are getting frustrated because I just keep on complaining. But I just hate it. I’ve decided I’m just going to finish my whole math book just ti prove to myself and to the teachers that I NEED MORE KNOWLEDGE! I love to learn, but only if I can learn at my pace (which is really fast).

    Any advice? Thank you! (By the way, I really like this blog!)

    • Lisa Van Gemert says

      I’m so glad you wrote. Here’s my advice: take that energy and become what great thinkers have always been – autodidacts (self-learners). Explore topics that interest you, and become an expert on something (anything). You can find out how to do that here http://www.giftedguru.com/3-steps-to-becoming-an-expert-in-anything-part-1/.

      I would suggest that you explore TED talks at http://www.ted.com. You will find great thinkers talking about what they’re doing with their ideas. If you are interested in learning on your own, try the lesson plans I write for students to do without teachers at http://www.mensaforkids.org (click on parent/teacher resources to find the lesson plans).

      Whether you are officially labeled or not, people know who is gifted, so don’t shirk that label. Great people were once frustrated gifted kids (I was one), so know you’re not alone. Rapid learning speed is a hallmark of gifted kids, so that’s something you’re just going to have to learn to deal with. Learn some coping strategies for dealing with boredom. Try Zentangle (www.zentangle.com) – that’s my go-to strategy.

      Lastly, instead of complaining, come up with a plan to present. Could you test out of the next level of math? Could you take a class at a community college over the summer? Can you do an independent study project on some area of math that interests you? If not, try finding math courses from universities that you can do online (a list of free ones is here http://www.openculture.com/math_free_courses).

      And of course, the mainstay of gifted kids everywhere coping with a typical learning world: read. Read everything. Get good magazines like Smithsonian. Read hard books – hard books change your life.

      Keep me posted! I care about how you’re doing. Hang in there – millions have walked your walk. It gets better – you’re in the worst of it now. Hang on.

      Lisa

      • Cath says

        Thank you!

        I will try out a few of these things. Where I live, they hate to make us skip a grade, and I wouldn’t be able to ‘skip maths’, sadly. I can do and understand in one day what we would learn in about 2 weeks. I can easily do maths that we’ll learn in two or three years. My first language is French and I speak English fluently. French is super easy, as is Geography, English, History, Maths etc.

        I’ve always speed-learnt, and I’d finish in 5 or 10 minutes what it would take maybe 45-60 minutes for other kids. Then the teachers would either make me correct other kids or do some work for them. Which I didn’t like. Your list is EXACTLY what I live day to day. ” To fully understand what this is like for a gifted kid, find a cassette tape and play it at half speed. ” EXACTLY. God, don’t they understand! I mean, last year I was in this kinda program that was supposed to be for ‘smarter’ kids, and I’m not lying to you, it was so easy and everyone thought they were smart, when they certainly weren’t all! So, I didn’t stay, because we didn’t learn more, we just got more work on the same things!

        But, I know I’m not alone!

        Anyways, thanks, I’ll check out some math classes online. (I really like http://ca.ixl.com/ , although I’m speeding through it really quickly.)

      • Cath says

        Hi, again!

        *P.S. I’ve never taken a real IQ test, so I don’t know, but I was once vaguely told that my IQ was probably in the gifted area*

        Since I asked my math teacher for more math stuff, and he said no, I already wanted to skip a grade… now I want to about 10x more. That’s why my parents and I are going to my school’s principal to talk about it. I’m a 99.9% sure that I want to skip a grade (9th, or 3rd of high school for me)

        Do you have any advice?

        • Lisa Van Gemert says

          Why did your math teacher say no? Are you doing quality work with what you get? Acceleration is often a great idea. Offer to take the end of year test for the class you want to take. If you can demonstrate that you actually know quite a bit of THAT, it is seen as a more reasonable request. There’s more to acceleration than the cognitive side, too, so make sure you have a plan for demonstrating that you are responsible and mature enough to handle the leap. There is actually an instrument called the Iowa Acceleration Scale that can help tell if you’re a good candidate for skipping. Good luck!

          • Cath says

            He said no and gave no real reason, but since I obviously master in a day what my class would understand in 2 weeks or more, he still lets me take a bit of advance, but not enough. I got a 99% in maths last semester, and I do quality word. He didn’t want to teach me or give me things that are either a grade or two up, but I know I’m able to, because I do maths for 10th grade even though I’m in 8th.

            I always think that almost everyone around me is too immature. I was in grade 6th and already though about university (and I still do), when all my peers thought about was what concert they would go to. I am already more and more about what I want to do when I’m older.

            I’m also social; I may not have a huge group of friends, but I have many acquaintances and a good friend, and I can talk easily to people.

            Thank you!

          • Lisa Van Gemert says

            Often bright kids get along better with older (or younger) people, so that’s not uncommon. It can be tricky to make sure that doesn’t come across as arrogance. It sounds like you’re going to have to do what all of the great minds in history have done – find your own intellectual challenge. Rather than just looking for more work, perhaps you could find something to research in the field. That is ofen the key to getting really engaged and challenging yourself.

            Good luck!
            Lisa

          • Cath says

            My parents and I talked to my school’s principal about wanting to skip a grade. At first he didn’t want to, but then he said that if I was able to pass the 9th grade math exams with a 72% (I needed 72% to go in the maths program I wanted). He seemed to think I wouldn’t be able to do it.

            I studied for the two tests since I wanted to be sure to be able to skip.

            We got the results the other day, and… I got 80% and an A! So, next year, instead of being in 9th grade, I’ll be in 10th grade! I am so happy :)

            I just wanted to inform you.

            Also, could you do a post on MBTI and Gifted people?

  71. Traci says

    You may want to look into public schools. In Louisiana, gifted falls under the special ed umbrella, and gifted children are required to have an IEP that spells out what will be done to individualize the education for that specific child. AND – the parents must agree to the plan. I knew my son was highly gifted, so we enrolled him in a highly respected private school in PreK. He spent 3 years there, doing many things on this list, and we kept hearing “by 3rd grade, they all catch up”. When he entered 2nd grade, our parish opened a magnet school for gifted and high achieving students. We made the switch,a nd it was the best decision ever! He is now finishing his sophomore year, has 8 more required credits to graduate, is taking 3 AP classes this year, and 3 more next year, and scored a 32 on ACT last October. You may find more resources in the public school. In Louisiana, gifted kids have a teacher with gifted certification – which requires a 36 hour masters program in gifted education. It also may be a good time to start talking to your legislature to make gifted part of special education in your state.

  72. says

    Oh, help! How reading this brought back memories… BAD memories!

    I was subject to many, if not all, of these strategies whilst at school. I’ve no idea whether I’d consider myself “gifted” (something of my inherent distaste towards vanity tells me not to adopt that title), but I was certainly WELL AHEAD of my peers academically.

    I started school a year early (aged 3), and was already reading and writing and undertaking arithmetic well before this age. I think this had a lot to do with my mother, who was a firm believer in trying to engage my interest in learning from an early age, and who was happy for me to show interest in as wide a range of subjects as I liked. My parents were not restrictive in terms of what they allowed me to do, based on false assumptions of what was “age appropriate”; instead, I would happily read Ancient Greek Mythology aged only 4 years, and thought nothing of using complex grammar and sentence construction whilst still at Primary/Infant School.

    Unfortunately, the school that I attended seemed to think that children had to “be with their peers”, the result being that I was held back a year, to allow my own age group to “catch up”. It was not considered appropriate for me to attend Secondary/High School early.

    This enforced extra year was SHEER TORMENT. I was NOT ALLOWED to read aloud to the teacher (because I had completed all of the graded books that the school used within its reading sessions). I was not permitted to bring in my own reading material. Rather, whilst other classmates read aloud with the teacher, I was left alone, and to my own devices (in other words, bored!). On other occasions, the teacher used me as a sort of informal “class aide”. I would be asked to write sums on the board for other children to complete. I would be asked to hold up cards, or sheets for them to read from. I would be made to call out words for them to spell. The humiliation that this lead to; being marked out as “different”; was compounded by the fact that I was then branded “teacher’s pet” or “swot” because other children appeared to think that my academia lead to this perceived “preferential treatment”.

    To make matters yet worse, questions were asked as to why I had once been a year above my classmates, but was now alongside them. It was predominantly classmates and their parents who asked such questions – automatically jumping to the conclusion that I must have “done something to deserve” being held back for a year. Teaching staff did little to set them straight. This added to the bullying that I was already enduring.

    Other problems that I noted, included the fact that teachers appear to automatically assume that where a child is academically above average in one subject, they ought to be so in all. They do not seem to understand that “gifted” children (if that is to be what they are called) have likes and dislikes, just as does every other child. They may prefer one particular topic, such as English, or Mathematics, to other subjects – and thus excel in this “chosen field”. “Gifted” children are, in this sense, much like other children. They have preferences. They will work hard at topics that grab their interest; less hard at those which do not inspire them.

    Furthermore, teachers appear to assume that highly academic children are also developmentally advanced in other aspects – that they are emotionally more mature, that their behaviour will be less “childlike”. I experienced problems with this whilst at school. Often, if my friends and I had misbehaved, I would be singled out for punishment. Why? The response from teachers was generally the same… “You are the cleverest, so we think that you must be the ringleader.”

    Far too many assumptions are made about highly academic children. And your article is right, to cite the fact that they can seriously damage a child. Yes, you approach the subject matter in a light-hearted way… but… the truth is that “gifted” children are so often stigmatized through stereotyping. They are assumed to be “geeky”, “nerdy” or “swotty” (the taunts I so often heard my playground bullies use). They are assumed to want to be “teacher’s pet”. They are watched by others with envy – others who then go on to question their academic ability, falsely alleging that it must be down to “cheating” or “home tutoring”! (I experienced BOTH taunts whilst at school – I neither cheated, nor was home tutored).

    Teachers also stereotype. They assume that the “gifted” child will be emotionally advanced (as stated above). They assume the child will be more mature, and responsible in their behaviour. They also seem to assume that “gifted” children will somehow be more “biddable” – that the “gifted” child is a “goody-goody” who will never misbehave, or ask awkward questions in class. Rather, such a child will quietly get on with whatever work has been set, demonstrating remarkable fortitude and self-discipline. To many teachers (like those that I endured), the “gifted” child can be easily overlooked in class. They require little attention, because they are assumed to learn everything quickly and easily. Teachers do not appear to realise that EVERY child likes to receive attention, acknowledgement and praise; the “gifted” child is no different. It is damaging to self-esteem to hear that your efforts have been downplayed, just because the teacher feels that you should have found the subject easy. Worse still, is to witness the child who found the subject hard being praised for learning next to nothing!

    I suppose the latter represents an example of how the education system so often holds “gifted” children back. We seem to have adopted a “one size fits all” system, that caters for the needs of the so-called “average” learner (whatever that is!). Highly academic children do NOT fit in. They learn too quickly, they know too much. They push teachers to the limit (and this can annoy some teachers no end!). No, the “gifted” child is a source of envy and jealous rivalry. Other children want to see them fail. Probably because, as I believe, our education system has encouraged a climate of competition (what, with exams, tests and the like!). To get to the top, rivals MUST BE ELIMINATED! Thus, the “gifted” child is firmly established as the child that all others want to beat. And… they will use whatever tactics it requires to do so. INCLUDING BULLYING AND VIOLENCE.

    I was subjected to YEARS of bullying at school. Teachers did little to intervene and prevent it. Instead, there appeared to be a climate of “blame the victim”. It was occasionally suggested that I was CAUSING the bullying by “acting superior”. This came as a REAL SHOCK. I did NOT act in any way as suggested. I had friends of all academic abilities, although I was myself in the top academic group. I gained the impression that, if another child asked my grade, and I responded “A” – THAT was seen as ARROGANCE. What could I do? The simple fact was, that when I responded “A” – THAT WAS THE TRUTH! Ought I to have lied about my grades, just to keep friendships going with people who otherwise would bully me?

    Another reason, I believe, for teacher reluctance to intervene between the bullies and I, was my dress-sense. I was very much a “Goth/Emo” sort of kid (probably as a defence against the bullies, and to hide low self-esteem). I think that teachers somehow expect children’s clothes, and music preferences, to “match” their grades. Therefore, the “A” student should listen to Dvorjak (not Depeche Mode!), to Ravel (not Rammstein!), to Mozart (not Muse!). I take it you get my drift… I was expected to have attended Church every Sunday, dressed in pastel pinks, and behaved in an all-round “wholesome” manner. Clearly, the academic child is NOT also to be a rebellious, stylish, fashion-conscious, or “avant-garde” child, too. That is just altogether TOO MUCH!!

    Schools also seem to “use” highly academic children, in a very underhanded fashion. Such children become almost like “performing seals”. I recall that, at the school I attended, despite being given no accommodation or encouragement for my advanced academia (I was, as I said, “held back”), the school was more than happy to trumpet my achievements on their behalf. I would be entered in Spelling Competitions, Public Speaking Competitions and the like, on behalf of the school. There, I would be expected to perform to a very high standard – the school vicariously revelling in the kudos of any award or prize I won. However, my personal achievements were often overlooked, or unrecognised. In class, I was just “expected to perform”.

    Where I come from, there are NO programmes to cater for “gifted” children. Instead, children are just “lumped in together”. If anything, highly academic kids are seen as a nuisance, because they demand too much of teaching staff. They are also a magnet for bullying behaviour.

    I do not understand why the education system appears to be so obsessed with the idea of trying to make all children “equal”, all “alike”. Why the desperate attempts to “level the playing field”. The TRUTH is that people are NOT all equal. JUST LOOK ABOUT! Some are better looking than others. Some people are tall, some short. People exist in all different ethnicities; a variety of faiths. People may be male, or female – or hermaphroditic. Gay or straight. Some people are very good at sport, others not so. Some are talented musically, or artistically – others are not. Some people may be classed as physically, or mentally, disabled; others as “able bodied”. THIS IS HOW WE ARE BORN. THIS IS HOW IT IS!

    The fact is, that within that huge range of variety, some individuals are MORE ACADEMIC than others. Why should this be seen as a problem? Surely, the education system should recognise and value INDIVIDUALITY? Surely, the needs of “gifted” children should be catered for?

    You’ve listed top ten ways to annoy a gifted child… I can add more…

    1. BULLY him/her – name-calling, false accusations of cheating, exclusion by friends who are jealous… that sort of thing.
    2. PATRONISE him/her – the placating “yes, YOU may be bored, but…”, or “well, YOU may understand, but (insert name) here…”, and perhaps the irritating “go away, stop pestering, (insert name) here needs my time more; s/he doesn’t understand/learn/think like YOU”.
    3. STEREOTYPE him/her – assuming the child will always be a well-behaved, emotionally mature, “goody-goody”; or that the child will excel at each and every subject on the curriculum.
    4. FAIL to give PRAISE/REWARDS/ENCOURAGEMENT – the “gifted” child is still a human being, and human beings need to know that their hard work has not gone unnoticed.
    5. Expect that GRADES somehow “mirror” other attributes of a child – thus, an “A” student will ALWAYS be CONSERVATIVELY DRESSED; or ACADEMIA and qualities such as REBELLION, OUTSPOKENNESS or CHALLENGING BEHAVIOUR are MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE.This is NOT TRUE.
    6. MIS-LABEL the “gifted” child – some children who are “gifted”; but whose “giftedness” either has not been fully recognised, or is being actively ignored and overlooked; can “act up”. This is because they may be bored, or feel unchallenged. They may thirst for new knowledge, and want to progress ahead of the class, but feel held back. They may express frustration, resentment, disinterest or even anger. This is NOT an excuse for teachers to label them as “naughty”, “disruptive”, “challenging” or other such negative terms.
    7. Assume that the child who asks many and detailed/probing questions in class is doing so out of “rudeness” or from a desire to “show off”, or be “disruptive”. This may be a sign of a “gifted” child who wants to know more about a subject, and acquire in-depth knowledge. Such children are sometimes unaware that the crowded classroom is not always the best place for THEIR own particular style of learning. Which leads to…
    8. NEVER ASSUME THAT ALL CHILDREN LEARN IN THE SAME WAY – all I can say is that this is a “cardinal sin” for any teacher!

    I could mention many other ways in which schools could do more to meet the needs of “gifted” children… but… I’ve had my “whinge” for the time being. I’ve got things off my chest. Besides, as I’m now an adult, little will change for me in respect of the school system. That’s been and gone. However, if my experiences are familiar to any of you reading this post who are still at school… DON’T SUFFER IN SILENCE. Sites like this provide advice and resources – make use of them.

  73. Lois Anne says

    I love this post! I am a ‘gifted child’ (The term is no longer something to be proud of within schools!) who has just finished secondary school. I love that you mentioned how even gifted children don’t get 100 on every assignment!

    I just have to add a few! ;) (Some overlap though, sorry!)

    1. Don’t use the phrase “You don’t need to know that at this level.” It is possibly the most annoying phrase I have ever had the displeasure of hearing. I WANT to know, I have a thirst for learning, I will stay late if I have to I just want to know!

    2.Don’t say things like “You shouldn’t be watching TV you’re a gifted child, you should be reading or something.” Everyone deserves leisure time.

    3.Don’t use the phrase “You should know better” or “You’re supposed to be smart.” It’s not encouraging, everyone makes mistakes and everyone needs support sometimes.

    4.Don’t assume they are posh or wealthy because they’re gifted.

    5. Don’t offer them the opportunity to go on trips for gifted children, which sound utterly enthralling and challenging WHICH THEY/THEIR PARENTS CANNOT AFFORD. (& offer no funding/support/charity) I cannot stress this enough, it has happened so so so many times in the 5 years I have been at secondary school. It is so heart-breaking! And often means that even when our parents scrimp and save and can offer the sometimes £500+ trips we spend the week feeling guilty!

    6. Don’t ask your child to ‘give up’ an argument with someone even though they are correct just because the other person is more senior than them. It is so belittling and you are effectively training your child to not stand up for the truth and to be spineless. (On most occasions, of course there are exceptions when the child is being rude or not having respect etc.)

    7. Give them the option to do more work/extra classes but don’t force them, they will rebel and may end up not enjoying learning which is the worst thing that could happen.

    8. Gifted children can have other great qualities. Empathy, creativity etc. don’t forget that.

    9. Don’t lie to your child for the sake of a.) looking as though you are correct or b.) So you don’t have to explain something.

    10. Just because they often get 100 on a test, just because they do it again doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be celebrated/congratulated. Similarly if they get 90 or something (Which is still above average) don’t have a go at them, that’s still go. Even gifted kids struggle with somethings. This does not require a meeting with a teacher, nor a sit down with them (usually involving phrases like “What’s the matter” “Why are you struggling”) it’s horrible, it makes you feel as though you have disappointed your parents – few children ever aim to do that!

    That’s all I can think of right now! Again, great post! -Lois x

  74. GiftedAndFrustrated says

    Being a gifted teen, these all ring very true for me, particularly 1, 3, 4, 8, 9, and 10! I have experienced almost every one of these to some extent in the past 8 years of school, and the past 2 months of eighth grade. I wish there were more easily accessible resources intended for gifted teens directly- not just parents! I’ve been searching the web for the past hour for help with dealing with a teacher who is not doing what the school said he would be doing. All the advice is intended for parents, not the students. He is teaching very slowly and methodically (think 2-3 days plus a full day for a quiz that takes me 10 minutes to complete and 4 weeks for a review unit on matter that I could finish in a school week), which I can understand working well for below average students, but it’s driving me nuts. He also uses bad song parodies to teach concepts, and forces us to sing, which I hate doing (I’m a band geek). To put the icing on the cake, the school’s principal said that he would be sure to have him giving me some kind of enrichment to do, and the boredom is starting to affect my ability to get back into the groove during the honors geometry class that is directly afterwards (I’m not as strong in math as I am in science and language). My parents said they would make the school push him into giving me the challenges and quicker paced curricula they promised, but only if I asked them to. I tried to research but I literally got nothing. I need help! Any suggestions?

    • Lisa Van Gemert says

      Hi,
      Okay, no one knows more than I do how frustrating this can be. It sounds like maybe there’s a communication problem going on and a clash of expectations. Here are my suggestions (and you may not like them, but try to really think about it, not just get offended):

      1) Ask if you can take a pre-test over the material he’s about to teach and then do an alternate activity. Maybe unit by unit or chapter by chapter. It’s helpful if you have something in mind that you could do instead. I don’t know what subject this is, so I can’t tell you any specifics, but it’s reasonable to expect that you would come up with an alternate research project that you could do on the same content but at a deeper level. For example, if you’re studying the Constitution, can you do a separate research project on the constitutions of other nations and create a project that shows the comparisons/contrasts? If not, is there a higher level of this class? Can you test out of the whole thing? Can you do it independent study or online?
      2) You’re going to have to sing, and I would gently suggest you get a better attitude about it! Every teacher has his/her own style, and you will not help yourself by being sullen and acting like you hate it. It just won’t help you. When you’re a teacher, you can do it your way, but songs are a great way to remember information, and it’s actually good pedagogical technique.
      3) This teacher is NOT responsible for your class after his. YOU are responsible for that. If you want adults to take you seriously, be mature. Mature people take responsibility for themselves. It is up to you to take a deep breath and face each new class with a fresh attitude. It’s hard, but it’s not impossible! By saying that that class is affecting your ability in another class is giving this teacher you don’t even like an awful lot of power over you. Is that what you want?
      4) If you are unable to get any change in the class, I would recommend learning Zentangle. It will help you handle boredom. You will have boredom the rest of your life – you just need to learn how to manage it so it doesn’t manage you.

      Let me know what happens!!!
      Lisa

  75. Kelly says

    I didn’t have time to read through every single post (quite long) but I have this to offer now that my children, 14 and 16, and we (my husband and I) have weathered public school education offerings for high ability kids for a while (please note my CAPS are for emphasis – I would rather italicize):

    1. When a high ability athlete needs coaching – where do you go? To the best. Someone who has proven their athletic ability and performed extremely well. And the community applauds. They want their outstanding athlete.
    2. When a high ability musician needs instruction – where do you go? To the best. Someone who has proven their musical ability and performed extremely well. Again the community applauds. Wonderful music. Wonderful recognition.
    3. When a high ability student in the public school system needs instruction – where do you go? Oh, wait. That’s the problem. Finding an instructor who understands being high ability and your child’s needs – how do you do that? Most instructors are not high ability. For the simple fact that most people are not high ability. That is not to say they don’t care. That is not to say they don’t try. But it IS to say that, well, maybe they just don’t have the ABILITY to be your child’s instructor. I am risking a lot by putting this out there.

    For most of us – we can identify with struggling. With something. Learning something at some point was challenging. And hopefully we were provided instruction from someone who knew what we needed. Because they KNEW. They had experience in struggling. I am willing to finally put out there that this is one reason special education has so much support. AS IT SHOULD.

    I am also willing to finally put out there that it takes a Gifted (for lack of a better term today) person to know a Gifted student. And teach a gifted student. And motivate a gifted student. And not be insulted that the gifted student can learn in just minutes what it takes the typical teacher quite a while to prepare and the typical student hours to learn. And then to know that the gifted student is ready to move on to the next thing. PLEASE. And to not do so means the gifted student is NOT LEARNING.

    So, essentially, what I am trying to say is that the typical teacher is great for teaching the typical student. As rare as the gifted student, the gifted teacher is hard to identify, hard to “assess” and hard to require for teaching gifted students – because that would mean we have stratified our teachers.

    It’s like we are banging our collective parent heads against a ‘gifted education’ wall. The wall is naively believing that a typical system will meet the needs of atypical people.

    I dare say it is time to move on.

    The Department of Public Instruction (or whatever your state may call it) gifted education statutes – perhaps they need to be collectively called under question and reviewed. Admins respond to bureaucratic arms in a very happy manner. That happened in our district nearly 20 years, 10 years, and just 3 years ago. But the typical administrators and typical teachers just can’t seem to get it together. Those gifted teachers who have blessed our children’s lives – we treasure those years/classes.

    Coming to terms with the state of a matter is the first step.

    • Lisa Van Gemert says

      Well, you’re going to make me say it: I agree. The best teachers for gifted kids are gifted themselves. But just like I could teach struggling learners when I was a teacher with proper training and support and materials, the same is true of teachers of the gifted. Unfortunately, they so seldom get it…

  76. marco m. greer says

    Each one of the ten seem to have it’s usefulness. I guess I would question if they are a proven fact. For example, #5,6 and 10. Since they are ‘gifted,’ why not reinforce in them their smartness? Also, will allowing them to play with older children do anything that will increase their state of giftedness? Lastly, #10, I have read and heard it stated that practice makes perfect. Is that a myth?

    • Lisa Van Gemert says

      Hi,
      #5 isn’t about reinforcing ability, it’s about the myth that just because you’re gifted, everything should come easily to you. That inculcates perfectionism and risk avoidance and is really dangerous. Allowing them to play with older children isn’t about increasing their state of giftedness (why is that a goal?). It’s about letting them interact with their peers – not just the kids who are their same age. For gifted kids, their chronological age peers are not their peers in any other sense. Deliberate practice makes perfect, and practice is key to success. However, what good would it do to practice the same song on the piano for ten years? It wouldn’t do any good at all. Practice must still grow with the person’s ability to be effective.

  77. Lee says

    Just stumbled upon this site. I was what you would consider a “gifted” child. I was never frustrated in school because I had “non-gifted” classmates or because accommodations weren’t made just for me. I can remember as far back as Kindergarten realizing I was far ahead of my peers academically. Rather than frustrate me, I distinctly remember focusing instead on things such as welcoming the new kid, identifying “loners” and befriending them, and helping a classmate learn to write her letters. I don’t remember any academics from that year but, believe it or not, those interactions have stuck with me. I believe not having to exert energy on schoolwork actually allowed me to focus on further developing social skills such as empathy, seeing things from a different viewpoint, and altruism.

    However, I will say that my mom way very good at attempting to satiate my appetite for learning and discovery outside of school. We went to the library regularly, visited museums and zoos, and watched education movies and shows. I know this is not always possible as modern life is increasingly busy with much less unstructured time and I consider myself exceedingly blessed to have had so many opportunities as a child.

    And yes, I do understand that ideally EVERY child would be met at his or her unique level in the classroom, having their individual needs met. I also believe teachers should be required to learn about “giftedness” as well. I am not saying that our educational system is flawless or that all “gifted” children will or should have the same experience I had. I guess I am merely saying that I, as a “gifted” child, was underserved academically by the school system but that it wasn’t all bad for me and it didn’t stop me from pursuing my intellectual interests. I currently work with adults who have developmental disabilities while at the same time going to school for neuroscience, which is pretty much the best of both worlds.

    Finally, your passion and love for your children on here is obvious; they’re lucky to have adults like you looking out for them.

    Best

    • Lisa Van Gemert says

      That’s such a nice comment, Lee. Thank you! I think that often gifted kids are at school to learn a completely different set of skills from typical learners, and you described some of these beautifully.

  78. says

    Some of my teachers in elementary must have read this, and not understood the sarcasm… haha But now I’m in high school and aspiring to do big things in life! All is well that ends well. :)

  79. Stephanie says

    My school does all of these things and more. It’s a fairly small school, but we have four gifted children just in my grade. As one of them, I can say what my school does for us in redicoulous. They don’t try to figure out who the gifted children are until the fourth grade. At that point, the stuffed as all into a four month algebra program. After that, we went right back to doing the same math as the other seventy kids in our grade. The school refused to give us any further separate instruction in tha year. In the fifth grade, the pulled out the top fifteen math students and had us work on sixth grade math all together. It was the most boring thing I have ever done. They did the same in sixth grade, and in seventh, we did the same math class that four of us had taken in the fourth. In eighth grade, they just had us all tale an algebra 1 course. They haven’t ever done anything for gifted children in any other subject but math.when me and another girl tested out of sixth grade science, they pulled us out of that class, and had us sit in the enrichment room, and draw. We didn’t get to do further studies in science. We had to draw.

    Currently, now in the eighth grade, I take the same language arts class as every other kid in the grade, and we’re reading about the revolutionary war. When I finished my book on the topic, the teacher gave me another, and another, and another. Im currently on the seventh one in two weeks.

    All of the books are historical fiction, and I don’t understand why I’m not aloud to read a book on a different topic yet. I now have to write an essay on every single one of them, and when I finish this one, I have to another.

    It quite honestly offends me. I had a grasp of the topic in the first book, and none of the books are even vaguely interesting to me, as most just detail the battle field.

    In social studies, we read aloud as a class everyday, and I am not aloud to read ahead.

    My school is the only public school available for eighth grade and under in my district. My family is lower class, and I have no option on where I go to school until next year, they should at least have separate classes. I could’ve been taking the same math I am now in the fourth of fifth grade, but the school refused. My school does not allow you to skip grades either. It honestly been a horrible experience for me. They should read this article, maybe then they wouldn’t have to keep giving us the same assignments over and over.

    • Lisa Van Gemert says

      My blood pressure went up just reading this, Stephanie. This reads like a lesson in “what not to do.” It sounds like punishment, not enrichment. If you email me (lisa_at_lisavangemert.com), we can come up with some ideas. Lisa

  80. Ben says

    Whoa flashbacks… Reading the comments sent my mind back to my school experience.
    I was sent to a doctor to be medicated for adhd, thankfully my doc recognized I was simply bored with the material and didn’t get me all coked up on the ritalin. Struggled for years with boredom in school.
    I never developed any kind of work ethic, If my home work wasn’t finished by the time the bus dropped me off at home it didn’t get done. My test marks meant I could pass in very little homework and still get decent grades.
    I was eventually skipped a grade, far too late.
    It always ticked me off that the school board dropped tens of thousands of dollars to integrate special needs children that would never function as self reliant adults and yet they’d not spend a penny towards gifted students. Not saying it wasn’t good to let these kids experience school, I just wished they’d invested some of that in the top end of the bell curve too.
    Worst part was, during a job interview a couple years after graduating I was asked if I could read, write and do basic arithmetic.
    I responded that I had my high school diploma, back it up with documents I thought.
    No, he asked again.
    I was puzzled I asked why my high school diploma didn’t prove basic literacy.
    He’d had illiterate high school grads.
    Apparently I just needed to show up to get a diploma.
    He then went to test my math skills but stopped, stunned after I answered his first and hardest question. Not even hired yet and already aware my IQ was likely well above the managers.
    I was furious to realize I’d wasted so many years getting that stupid piece of paper that didn’t even prove basic literacy.
    I’ve come to realize public school is meant to churn out good obedient workers. Show up and do what you’re told, no critical thought allowed.
    Not for my kids. I intend to home school with a project oriented, student focused approach. No better way to solidify math skills than to use them to build a skate ramp. Real world applications as the main vehicle of learning rather than being told “just do it, it’s in the curriculum” when you ask about applications.
    But what about socialization?? I can give him all the swirlies and wedgies he’d get at school at home if he wants. I hated kids my age and they hated me.
    Honestly, school has got to be one of the most unnatural environments.

    • Lisa Van Gemert says

      Hi Ben,
      I am strong supporter of homeschooling, and when people through the socialization word at me, I say that if you can get along with your family, you can get along with anyone!

      Your experience is not, unfortunately, unusual. Gifted kids are misdiagnosed so often that it’s a whole realm of study.

      Your last line reminds me of something one of my sons said once when he was eight: “The cafeteria is my most difficult society.”

      Best wishes to you,
      Lisa

  81. AmyD says

    This list could not come at a more appropriate time for me. My 6 year old just began first grade and is absolutely miserable. For the first time in his little life, he hates going to school.

    He’s always been far ahead of his age group, but he was able to be placated with some extra challenging work at home. Now that he is in school all day, he is too tired and frustrated to take on the one thing that lights up his life: math. I’ve had several meetings with his Kinder teacher, vice principal and now his first grade teacher – all to no avail. He is reading two grade levels ahead, and is already doing algebra (as in solving for x). What can she possibly teach him? She is facing an uphill battle. There are 30 students in her class, with varying levels of ability.

    He would be a perfect candidate for home-schooling, however, I feel it would be detrimental to him socially. He, too, doesn’t want to be home-schooled because he would miss his friends. He would excel in the GATE (gifted and talented education) program, but our district doesn’t offer that until third grade.

    I feel that the school is sometimes critical of me for being so forward on the subject, but they need to understand that he is different. He thinks differently. I am not just being some helicopter mother, either. I have three kids, and he is the only one I would say is truly gifted. My youngest is quite bright and will always be at the top of her class, but she learns normally. My eldest is full of street smarts and is a very talented athlete, but struggles with academia.

    I just don’t know what to do. It breaks my heart to force him to school every day, amongst the tears and anger. Six years old is just too young to form this kind of negative view of school.

    • Lisa Van Gemert says

      Nothing is a panacea, but I really do think homeschooling is worth exploring. Lots of people find that they can easily meet the social needs through other activities (I found this when I homeschooled my kids while we lived in Germany). I wouldn’t let that stop me. I’m not saying you should do it, I’m just saying that you shouldn’t let that one concern keep you from what you know is best.

  82. Bethany says

    1. Thinking maps will be my demise as a gifted student. It’s high school. I get it, common core, common core, but forcing us to put all of our thoughts in a little bubble is getting annoying very quickly.
    2. Doing group work. Yeah! It’s fun! If you get to be in a group that you want to be in! When you’re the “smart kid” and everybody knows that, they beg to be in your group not so that they can learn but so that you can do all the work.
    3. Extracurricular. When your teachers know you’re gifted, they seem to want to get you involved into way too many activities… Latin Club, FPS, OM, SGA, Girl Scouts… leaving you with no time left to yourself.

    • Lisa Van Gemert says

      Hi Bethany,
      Oh, thinking maps over done shut down my thinking cap!
      Group work – I do a whole training on it for teachers because it’s really hard to get right, and very few do.
      I totally agree on your last point. Just because you can do a lot of things well doesn’t mean you should have to!
      Lisa

  83. Bee says

    I see that I am commenting a few years later on this article, but here goes…

    First off, I truly enjoyed your top 10, it is a hilarious take on a horrible problem in the public school system. Thank you for bringing a little bit of humor to this problam I know all too well.

    I think people need to realize the difference between over acheiver and gifted. I have 3 children. The oldest is an over acheiver in high school. She is extremely intelligent. She is a member of the National Honor Society. She has always worked hard, made straight A’s, and currently has a 4.3 GPA. She is in the 10th grade and takes classes through a local community college. Is she smart? Absolutely, without a doubt. Is she above grade level in every subect? Yes Gifted? Nope.

    My yougest son,9, is in elementary school. He too has always made straight A’s, but the diffeneces between him and her are astounding. He has always been ahead. So ahead in fact that his teachers don’t know what to do with him….except maybe give him extra work, which just makes him, and myself angy. He learns easily, too easily I’m sure, according to his teachers. He hates the repetitiveness that other children need and he has forced upon him. In fact when his teacher sends home a study guide, I don’t make him study it. GASP! It is a waste of time and and energy that just causes an unnecessary frustration for him. He always gets 100%, plus whatever the bonus questions are worth. He has supersensitivies, sometimes overcome by a piece of music, that are often seen in gifted children. The anger and frustration that comes with unfairness and the emotional outbursts from things that seem trivial to the rest of us. He is a beautifully gifted boy who is sometimes hard to understand, he is the definiton of too smart for your own good, but he is amazing and he is loved.

    • Lisa Van Gemert says

      What’s interesting is that overachievers can be gifted, too, so it can be remarkably difficult to tease them apart. Sometimes people think that kids have to be loaded with intensities and struggling in school to be really gifted, and that’s simply not true. I’m glad you shared this comment because it shows that you can have vastly different types of learners, even in the same family, and that what something looks like on paper may not be what it really is at its core! Your children are so lucky to have a parent who understands and appreciates them for their differences as much as their abilities.

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