If you live in a college town, you can be forgiven for coming to the conclusion that everyone in said town is gifted. Nay - a genius!
My favorite part of my town might be the gifted preschools that accept gifted toddlers at the grand age of 2.5 - I'm not even sure how to figure out if my 2 year old is gifted. I'm too busy changing her diapers and trying to dissuade her from smearing jam sandwiches over the furniture. On second thoughts, these activities may be cues that she won't be composing symphonies by Kindergarten or solving our energy crisis before middle school. (or did Paris Hilton take care of that already?)
But many of us are pretty insistent that our kids are gifted. We have gifted programs everywhere - gifted preschool, advanced Kindergarten, early admittance programs...it's a wonder we even use the word 'average' anymore. Unless we're talking about other people's children, of course.
My kids are smart, they really are. I have an average 4 year old who reads and writes and is bilingual. But that's only because his Dad speaks his native tongue at home. And the reading/writing part is because he loves to do it, not because we teach it or make him practice. My younger kids are smart too, in an average kind of way.
None of my kids say anything really poignant and they haven't guided me along any kind of intellectual path that has made me run to test their IQ. At least not yet. If one of them turns out to be the next Steven Hawking, I'll post it here first!
It turns out that only about 3% of the population is actually gifted. Bummer, eh? And there may only be several hundred genuine prodigious children in America.
So why all the gifted programs? Are these gifted programs really accepting the whiz kids or are they actually filled with smart-yet-average children? Have we unintentionally dumbed our kids down so much that one mere sentence of grammatical perfection from a 4 year old has us running off to have them tested for academic advancement?
Or are our parental egos determined to have at least one little genius under our roofs? They are, after all, our spawn. Admit it - that's a nice reflection on us too.
It's ok if I have average kids. I mean, I stand by the notion that they are smart. They are! I swear! But I'm not sure any of my little Einsteins are actually...Einsteins. Yet in my college town, many of their peers will be tested for advanced placements and popped into gifted classes by the time they reach first grade.
I have fairly high standards for my little kids. They include being mannerly, sharing, not talking back and working on the old potty-training. The latter is tough.
And I no doubt will have high standards for them in school too. Why not? They have the capability, the encouragement, and I hope - the drive and ambition.
And for the 3% out there, these gifted programs are a good idea for the most part. For everyone else, we may be espousing the notion that good simply isn't good enough. Or worse - the notion that good means gifted. Rather than thinking that idea lifts kids up, I think it runs the danger of dumbing them down. We should have high expectations for our children that don't always mean they get lauded with titles of 'gifted' and 'advanced'. Children need encouragement, not pressure.
But if they don't qualify as little geniuses, that's ok too. Not everyone was meant to be a rocket scientist. I may be raising the next butcher, baker and candlestick maker. If we were all running the world, who would fix our leaky faucets and pave our driveways? Make out lives safe and comfortable? We need average. Average isn't a dirty word. Genius may have invented the wheel but average is what turns it every day.
For more on the gifted theory, click here: http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/family/08/27/gifted.kids/index.html
Were you in gifted programs? Are your kids? What are your thoughts about the notion of 'gifted and advanced' children in general?
All user-generated information on this site is the opinion of its author only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. Members and guests are responsible for their own posts and the potential consequences of those posts detailed in our Terms of Service.