On the Upside
Last week I offered some insights from my students, their thoughts on the not-so-rosy side of being gifted. Being gifted, as with all things in life, has its advantages and disadvantages. Some of the kids preferred to respond by letting you know what the up-side is, so those insights are below.
As the GT Specialist working with these kids, it's my goal (among others) to help them understand, accept, and learn how to manage the advantages and disadvantages that can come with their high intelligence and high creativity. We have conversations about effective ways to respond to (or not respond to) teasing, we discuss friendship issues and strategies for finding and making quality (vs. quantity) friends, we talk about what giftedness is (a learning difference) and what it is not (specialness), we celebrate challenge and the hard work it takes to learn when challenged, and we foster an attitude that it's okay to be who you are... our world needs all sorts. Generally speaking, these conversations, over time, do help them to understand, accept, and manage the advantages and disadvantages that come with their giftedness. Rather than dwelling on the down-side or, conversely, only gushing about how great it is that they're so intelligent, I prefer to take a path with them that acknowledges and prepares them for all realities, the good ones and the not-so-good ones.
So, on the up-side, here are some thoughts from the kids. [As always, the names are student-chosen pseudonyms.]
"I'm happy I'm smart because I love to get good grades and know what the answers are." Sushi Man, 5th grade
"I always am happy with my condition. I can help other people and help the world. I can get smarter at the things I love most and usually do them well." Soaring Paperclip, 5th grade
"I enjoy being smart because I am able to accomplish many things and I feel that being smart gives me more self-esteem." Crystal, 5th grade
"I like being smart because then you have a bigger array of stuff to try and do." Stewart, 5th grade
"I love that I have unique interests and a place (class) in school where I can pursue them. I enjoy challenging myself to always reach the next level." Amelia, 7th grade
"Having a great ability at something gives me the joy of immersing myself in working on that area." Michelle, 7th grade
"I like to have more challenges and I like to have my work done on time." Bubba, 5th grade
"Being gifted is great when the school meets me where I'm at academically. I love being challenged in my advanced classes." Wendy, 7th grade
"I'm happy being smart because I can always help my friends. You can solve problems easier. There are more chances to challenge yourself." Ailie, 7th grade
"I just learn differently, and I'm okay with that." Cural, 5th grade
"I am happy that I can achieve what is set in front of me. I strive to beat the challenge." Sawzall, 11th grade
"I think I have found a lot of less-known things interesting, causing me to have a very diverse set of life experiences. Because of that, I have a very different thought process than most people." Scribblenaut, 12th grade
"Usually I'm glad to be somewhat intelligent in a world filled with stupidity and enjoyment of lame humor. It makes decisions in life much easier because I have enough knowledge and understanding to stay away from drugs and alcohol and focus my time into my studies." Jane, 12th grade
"I'm glad that I am smart because I enjoy being able to write, read, and speak with a greater intellectual level. It also allows me to have a better grasp on whatever I am going over, whether in or out of school (i.e. our current History unit on the Civil War or Malcolm Gladwell's latest book)." Stewie, 11th grade
"I sometimes enjoy feeling smarter than the others and I feel like all that I have worked for in the past has paid off. And I'm thankful that there is a class where I can (humbly) exercise my abilities and be surrounded by others who have the same talents, a class where I won't feel different from other kids." Olive, 9th grade
"I like that I can 'see through' the motives of the so-called cool crowd." Puff the Magic Dragon, 5th grade
What would the gifted kids in your life have to say about the up-side of being gifted?