I have an appointment at my youngest kid’s school in about an hour. Youngest Daughter (I’ll call her AH) is in third grade and came home with a sealed letter to her parents. In third grade, sealed letters addressed to parents are almost never positive letters.
This one wasn’t.
I’m being asked to come to the school to discuss my daughter’s status as a gifted student.
I suppose that most “normal” parents would see this as a huge positive.
I was a gifted student. My son was a gifted student. My oldest daughter is a gifted student.
BEING A GIFTED STUDENT SUCKS!!!!!!!!!
Look, I get it. The school is trying.
But being considered “gifted” in a public school, it’s a fucking load of shit.
Being considered gifted comes with the same social stigma that being slow comes with.
Here’s what Florida’s Department of Education says about gifted students:
“H. Priority Recommendations
Because gifted students differ from other students, the 2007-08 state gifted advisory group
designated these statements of belief:
• A differentiated educational experience beyond the basic curriculum provided by gifted
endorsed teachers is needed in order to meet the needs of gifted students.
• Gifted students require specially designed programs based on individual strengths, interests,
abilities, and needs.
• Giftedness occurs across all populations. Gifted students need programs that meet the needs
of exceptional students identified as gifted of all diverse populations.
• Gifted programs require the support of parents, teachers, administrators, and the community.
• Gifted programs offer differentiation in content, instructional strategies, products,
environment, and instructional pace through enrichment and acceleration opportunities based”
Did you read that? It sounds really positive doesn’t it. But read it again. Everything in the statement above says to isolate, differentiate, and remove, the child from the other “normal” kids.
This is the same thing they do to my Autistic nephew. My nephew, I’ll call him K, is in a “special” school where children like him can get an education that is structured specifically to meet the needs of students like him.
And it kind of is actually. We have known that K was Autistic since the day he was born. He’s about 13 now. He is low functioning Autistic. Meaning that he has very limited speech, his reasoning abilities are slightly stunted, and he does not deal well with frustration or frustrating situations. But thanks in part to the special school, my sister is seeing a lot of improvement. The other day he made coffee for the adults. A few days before that, he pretty much made dinner for everyone all by himself.
But, you know, they could have taught him all of those things without isolating him, and other kids like him, from everyone else. Part of the purpose of school is to teach children how to operate and act around the rest of society. Like a training course.
So basically, instead of having these kids who are different able to exist in the “normal” school, and in turn have the kids at the “normal” school exist with them as well, they are creating a false sense of the world. They are teaching each of these sets of kids that the other doesn’t exist. How is that a positive once the roles change and they are all put in the same world together; but don’t know how to act around each other? How does this improve our society?
I was a gifted student. Starting in third grade, myself, and maybe one or two others in my class, was required to go to another classroom for certain classes. Let me say that again…Two or more times a day I was sent away from my classmates during lessons.
My classmates had no idea what was actually happening, I honestly didn’t either, But they assumed that being sent away was something bad, so I was ridiculed for it. They also ridiculed me for having more work to do than they did. Because, according to the public school system, being smart also means that you want to do more work, instead of harder work. Your English homework for the average kid is a page long essay on Africa…make the gifted kids do two pages.
Long story short, after being made fun of for being smart for several years, I dropped out of school a month into my freshman year.
My son was labeled gifted too. He is a bit lazy, and a discipline problem. He’s a classroom disruption. He resents the fact that being labeled as “gifted” automatically means he gets twice the workload. He has had an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) in place since second grade…IEP’s are what they lay out for the “retards” so none of his classmates thought he was smart since the teachers have always made a point of making sure everyone knew about his IEP. He should graduate this year, but instead he’s been removed from regular school and put in a “special” school and maybe he won’t drop out.
My oldest daughter, his twin sister, learned from his example not to shine too brightly. She’s just as smart, just as gifted, but she managed to stay under the radar by being smart enough to know when to pretend she wasn’t as smart. Sure, she has all AP classes now, but she knows to “forget” something every now and then to keep her off the “gifted” radar.
And now this is what is going to happen to my AH. She will be separated and isolated from the other students. There are going to be things in place to make sure that all of the other kids know that she is not the same as everyone else. The way that her current school works is that, once a week, they ship all the smart kids from all of the other schools in the area to one school. So they aren’t just isolating her from her classmates, but her entire school!
Smart kids are treated exactly like the slow kids. They are removed from “normal” people like some sort of tumor. They are isolated, ridiculed, and generally let down by the public education system. They are outlying variables that are removed so that they don’t screw up the curve.
How does this help them?