For you

Dear Gifted Child

Dear Gifted Child,

I know this comes as too little too late, but I still feel the need to apologize to you. I hope you can forgive me. I now realize how much I let you down. It’s no excuse, but I can now admit that I did what I did because I wanted to fit in. I thought I’d found my place at the time. All I can offer is….

 
 

I didn’t know.

 

I didn’t know that by asking you to redo work over and over due to careless mistakes that I was doing you a disservice. I thought I was helping you to think more (even though as a child myself- I was frustrated the same way).

 

I didn’t know that by asking you to work in a group without easing you into expectations and supporting you with social skills, I was increasing the pressure you already felt (even though as a child I felt the same).

 

I didn’t know that by taking away your book when you finished your work so quickly, I was showing my lack of faith in your abilities (even though it happened to me often as a child).

 

I didn’t know that those times you wanted to tell me all about your Pokemon cards, or airplanes, or horses that dismissing you so quickly meant you’d have no one to share your knowledge with at recess (even though my own cravings to have someone listen that way were buried deep inside).

 

I didn’t know that being gifted meant truly being different. I thought you were spoiled, lucky, arrogant, and bossy at times. That’s what many of the other teachers thought, so who was I to disagree (even though I’ve often been called the same).

 

I didn’t know how alone you felt with your offbeat wit, divergent thinking, and need to be understood (even though I’ve often felt the same).

 

I didn’t know

I was you.

 
 

I treated you often the way I’d always been treated- as if you were annoying.
 
I treated you often with frustration-because you didn’t fit in and didn’t make my life easier.
 
I treated you the same as the others-even though you were different.

For that, I am very sorry.

 
 
 

Secretly at first, and then as I gained confidence and years in teaching, I began to buck the system. I realized I was never going to fit in the same way as others. I began to embrace your quirks, your passions, and your struggles. When other teachers spoke about your differences, I became your champion. I began to take delight in you. Yes, even on those tough days. You were the reason I stayed in the classroom as long as I did. You were the spark that kept me going.

 

You, dear gifted child (identified and not), were always my favorite and now I finally understand why.

 

 

I loved you best 

so I would love myself. 

 
 
 
 
*This post is for Alex, Cecilee, Tommy and many others.

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31 thoughts on “Dear Gifted Child

  1. Lisa, thanks for this sincere letter. I’d like to translate it in italian so to publish it on a facebook page called “I Gifted esistono.e sono tra noi “(the translation is : Gifted exists and they’re among us)? Is it possible ? would you give me permission to translate the whole of it obviously mentioning you as author ?
    I’ve already shared it on a page called “theBRIGHTside” because I think that your words are so sincere and real that can be helpful for many teachers. I’ve two gifted children myself and since here in Italy there’s much ignorance and mysknowledge about giftedness I fell the urgent need to be their advocate. Chiara

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks a lot for that article. I am a teacher and gifted myself. Those things happened to me as a kid as well. I am trying to talk to colleagues about the topic, but it is still very difficult to get through.

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    1. Thanks, Daria! Try talking to those who might be gifted. When teachers can’t even identify ourselves as gifted, were definitely going to lose a ton of kids along the way. Feel free to join our FB group- Gifted Adults too!

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  3. I think you wonderful teachers should be easier on yourselves – today’s curriculum does not allow teachers the time to stop and think. Unfortunately the-powers-that-be set the curriculum without giving teachers time to teach just tick boxes 😦

    School was not a great place for me I loved maths and languages but forever being told you are cheating because you know the answer but not the workings has meant I spent a lifetime believing I must be dumb by others standards.

    I was an introvert so craved my own company but never managed to fit in the crowd because my answer did not fit the norm.

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  4. This brings back memories, unpleasant memories. I was fortunate to have one teacher who recognized where I was in 7th grade – struggling with severe hearing loss in a mainstream class, yet very far ahead in vocabulary and math. She arranged to have me tested and promoted to 9th, which helped, but still, all those issues which you describe, and I still felt like my time was being stolen from me, hour after hour after hour.

    https://papalibertarian.wordpress.com/2015/01/11/why-was-homeschool-attractive-to-me/

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  5. I have so, so many thoughts and feelings about this post. I feel as though, I too, have walked this road. From gifted kid, to 2E kid, to teacher who did what was expected, to teacher who came into her own, and became the advocate. The last five years of my career were as a gifted ed specialist, and fighting the current for “my” kids nearly did me in. I quit this year, and have been a data monkey. I needed the break, but I’m ready to go back into the fight, because, in truth, that’s what it is, a fight. A fight for these kids who so desperately need a champion. In truth, it’s sad to see so many adults intimidated by kids. Those very kids are my light, and I can’t wait to be back with them.

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  6. Reblogged this on Overexcitable and commented:
    As I am debating with myself whether or not to share this on facebook, I am furious with myself for even hesitating!

    Did I not promise to stay true to my nature, and stand proud with all my differences, having paid the high price over and over and over again?

    Did I not vow to fight for my child, and for other children like her, who have the right to be who they are, despite falling outside the norm enforced by society?

    Have I not educated myself on neurology, psychology, sociology and more in order to weed out the myths that get in the way of the real research?

    Do I not KNOW for a fact that a great majority of my friends think that the whole term “gifted” is nauseatingly pretentious, just like the majority of people who are not my friends?

    Have I not passed a harrowing week struggling to adjust my vocabulary and vast thinking scapes to a group that did not share any of the gifted characteristics, knowing not one of them had any idea how hard that was for me, since none of them ever had to adjust to being surrounded by shallower people?

    How can I shirk my responsibility to fight the good fight now?

    Perhaps because I was that child. I am still that child. In most settings, I am just as misunderstood and judged as the child you address here. But only one of my many teachers has ever expressed any remorse for not recognizing this quirk. I do appreciate hearing that, but it does not make a lot of difference 35 years later…

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    1. I feel your pain Overexcitable. Honestly though, you know they don’t understand because they can’t.
      What does that mean for us, and even more so, for the future kids who are misunderstood or even worse-degraded because of their differences? It’s a fight, but remember that by fighting for them, you’re fighting for you.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m not a teacher, but am a homeschooling mom to two quirky, weird, funny, bossy sons who are so much like me that it’s almost scary. 😉

    This brought tears to my eyes because I was that child. Even though I was IDd as gifted in 1st grade, the schools I attended had no gifted programs and I had no outlets in the system to explore and embrace those aspects of myself. I eventually shut down and did what I needed just to get by and get through it and try to fit in. I’m still dealing with the repercussions 30 years later.

    Thank you for posting this and keep up your advocacy for your young gifted students. They are blessed to have you in their corner

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    1. I SO understand. I’m currently homeschooling myself and like you, I am finally grasping my own situation after living in denial for years. It’s amazing to me the lack of teacher training that goes on concerning gifted students. I’ve learned more from research over the past several months than I ever did while teaching. It’s got to change. Finally, those of us who were ignored (or worse) are ready to stand up for our own children because our lives finally make sense.

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      1. I guess I was idd as ‘gifted’ …the UK started a ‘Gifted and Talented’ register when I was in school. This register confused me in at least 2 ways: First, we were identified based on grades and, as a person who can’t help but see the gifts in people, I was saddened that other wonderful students were denied access just because they couldn’t/wouldn’t fit into the school box. And, second, the things we got to do -see special lectures, attend day or half day workshops lead by people fascinated by their topic – Why weren’t my teachers free to create session of this variety? Safe to say I was, and still am, a confused ‘gifted’ student doing my best to ask these questions now I’ve found my voice.

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  8. This gave me goosebumps and brought tears to my eyes. So touching and it reminds me of the remorse I also have as a former public school teacher who misunderstood the gifted children in my class.

    “I didn’t know that being gifted meant truly being different. I thought you were spoiled, lucky, arrogant, and bossy at times. That’s what many of the other teachers thought, so who was I to disagree” This quote painfully hits home for me because this is exactly what so many teachers thought of my youngest gifted son, and they never hesitated to let him know that this is how they felt about him. This is the reason his last public school gave for his teachers “not responding” to him in the classroom–he was arrogant and bossy.

    Thank you for such a beautiful post!

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    1. I’ve been working through this for years. Once seeking recognition for my differences and contributions as an undiagnosed gifted child and hearing those same words, I morphed from the abused to the abuser. I followed the pack of teachers who didn’t know better (or refused to know) trying to gain acceptance. Once I figured out and began to embrace gifted children (many unidentified due to their underachievement), I saw all of schooling with new eyes. I saw myself as lost and confused child and as my students’ Great Protector. Unfortunately, with my outspoken and newfound clarity, I resumed my place as an outcast. It’s a place of honor though this time around. Your son will find his place, but at least he’s not living a lie in a persona unfitting him. He’ll have his time as shall we. Thank you for your kind words as they evoke tears of sadness and joy.

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      1. Hi Celi; teachers called me ‘complacent’ …it hurt, but I understood why I seemed that way to them. I only wished for connection, conversation. I had so many things to say, so many questions, but there was no time. They would say “we are all here for all of you” without realizing they’ve just reduced themselves to one ‘teacher’ group and reduced me to a member of a ‘student’ group. Connections are person to person… not group to group.

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  9. Lisa, beautiful post. I believe there is a surge of forgiveness and joy in students if only they can hear this message from teachers. The system has abused us all with it’s restrictions and ‘shoulds’ …time to heal and find friends and purposes again.

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