Why Gifted Kids Need to Be Allowed to Race Ahead

No road runners allowed in school

Hello, Enthusiastic Gifted Child, meet Communist School. You are going to be best friends. Here is your bright new backpack with a cool pencil-case and notebook. See you at graduation. :^)

If you are behind the average, you have a legitimate, recognized special need and great care is taken to meet that need and make sure you don’t feel bad about yourself for being who you are or fall into depression. Your needs are important.

If you are faster than the average. You are meeting the minimum expectation and therefore do not have a legitimate special need. No care is taken to make sure you don’t feel bad about yourself or get depressed. In fact, you are an overachiever, a pain in the neck, an exhausting burden no one has time for because they are too busy making sure the slow ones can catch up. Equality is the key, you see. “You are done already! Well, go help Johnny.”

Some kids who are behind act out because of it. Some kids who are ahead do. Some kids who are behind fall into a self loathing depression, some kids who are ahead do. The kids who act out are most likely to be noticed. So I want to focus on the ones that get missed; the “good ones,” the “quiet ones”, the introverts who won’t tell you what is going on. They need you (parents and teachers) to see them and help them just as badly.

Gifted kids have an insatiable curiosity and need for speed. This is not a luxury. It is a need! Yes, yes it is. Like a person needs food or a car needs gas. If you don’t get food, you wither away and die. When you don’t feed gifted kids or allow them to feed themselves, you starve them.

sign no road runners allowed

When you direct their “extra” time and energy at helping others you starve them and teach them that their own needs are less important than the needs of others. You teach them, they may be starving, but they may eat only when all others have been fed because, of course, YOU don’t think they SHOULD be starving. After all, they ate the same amount as the others did. That is like saying, “teenage boy, you ate the same amount as your 90-year-old grandma. How could you still be hungry?! You are just being gluttonous.” This is akin to abuse, people!

Just because YOU can’t imagine eating a whole pizza yourself then looking for more food does not mean he does not need that much food. Stop judging him by your point of view. Try to see.

Communist Schools, if you let this child go at his own pace and feed and nourish him, he may cause an uncomfortable revolution. But, he may save your life as well. If you hold him back and teach him his needs are worthless and he is worth less than others he will eventually believe it. He will not grow up a healthy adult able to care for his own needs, and will not cause that uncomfortable revolution, and will not save your life.

Gifted children need to be allowed to race ahead. If you can’t handle this yourself, please figure out another way to make this happen.

Ah, Emaciated Depressed Child, congratulations, here is your diploma! You lost your backpack? Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that. Anyway, welcome to the rest of your life! I am so glad we could be a part of preparing you for it. :^)

no road runners allowed

Ravenous Curiosity: The dark side of the moon

Boundless Curiosity: one of the hallmarks of the “gifted.” It is the catalyst for the greatest discoveries. It is mysterious and glamorous, like the moon to the ancients, it is almost magical. But there is a dark side to this magic. Ravenous curiosity knows no bounds. It takes no vacations. It refuses to “know its place.” For the one possessed by it, there is no rest. When she is tired, instead of sleeping, she wonders how tiredness works, she researches the effects on the body, she reads on how the brain works during sleep, she wonders if any one has done a study on a question she that was sparked by the last study she read. Then she wonders why she is still awake reading and if anyone else has as much trouble stopping their curiosity as she does and starts scouring the internet yet again to find this answer. She cannot just be tired. She must observe, dissect, classify and categorize tired.

When she is sad she wonders what sadness is. She contemplates why we get sad (not the most proximate cause- the root cause), she wonders what it benefits humanity to be sad and why. She looks up all the ways people cope with sadness, she asks herself how she is coping with sadness, then wonders what studies have been done about the effects of various coping mechanisms. Then, when she is exhausted by the sadness she wonders how sadness can cause such exhaustion and starts looking that up. She cannot just be sad, she must understand every face of it.

And when the ravenous curiosity has nothing to more consume it turns on its host, thrusting her into depression, loneliness, anger, and fear. But even here there is no rest. She cannot just be any of these. She must turn them over and over and over until she has seen every last detail. She must put them under a microscope then hold them up to the stars to understand their function. She must place them in the corridors of time and analyze them from every direction. She must place them on every location on the globe and understand them from every cultural perspective. She must do this with everything until her body cries “uncle” and all her members stage a coup to shut her eyes in relief. In her dreams she prays that when she wakes, she will be on the other side of the moon.

The Long Bag We Drag Behind Us

Behind us we have an invisible bag, and the part of us our parents don’t like, we, to keep our parent’s love, put in the bag… Then we do a lot of bag stuffing in high school… We spend our life until we’re twenty deciding what parts of ourselves to put into the bag, and we spend the rest of our lives trying to get them out again… ~ Robert Bly

I read this quote from Robert Bly’s book, “The Long Bag We Drag Behind Us” in “Enjoying the Gift of Being Uncommon: Extra Intelligent, Intense, and Effective” by Willem Kuipers. Kuipers’ book is incredible and I highly recommend reading it, especially if you are an extra intelligent or extra intense person who usually sees all the negatives of that and none of the positives, but maybe I will tell you about that book another day. Today I just wanted to share this quote and encourage you all not to get overwhelmed at all the things in the bag. Pick one thing. Work on it.

“Have you hears of tiny Melinda Mae? Who ate a monstrous whale… And in eighty-nine year she ate that whale because she said she would.” -Shel Silverstein

I would quote you more of this favorite childhood poem, but I don’t know all the ins and outs of copyright law, so I will leave the copyright infringement to others. But look it up, it’s easy to find the whole poem online.

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Gifted People Are Overexcitable

gifted people are overexcitable

I have been doing some reading on gifted individuals lately and have a bone to pick with some of the language being used. My contention is with the idea that gifted people are overexcitable.

This is the introduction to the section on “overexcitabilities” from an e-book called “Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted: 30 Essays on Giftedness, 30 Years of SENG.” which was put out by SENG (Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted).

“Overexcitabilities are inborn intensities indicating a heightened ability to respond to stimuli. Found to a greater degree in creative and gifted individuals, overexcitabilities are expressed in increased sensitivity, awareness, and intensity, and represent a real difference in the fabric of life and quality of experience.”

The list of “overexcitabilities” discussed is as follows:
Psychomotor overexcitabilities
Sensual overexcitabilities
Intellectual overexcitabilities
Imaginational overexcitabilities
Emotional overexcitabilities

The essay then goes on to describe how to help normal folk deal with these overexcitable people. Here is another excerpt.
“Share the descriptions of OEs [overexcitabilities] with the family, class, or counseling group. Ask individuals if they see themselves with some of the characteristics. Point out that this article and many others like it indicates that being overexcitable is OK and it is understood and accepted.” (Emphasis mine) -This was from the section on discussing the concept.
Then you should focus on the positives, cherish and celebrate diversity, teach people how to communicate respectfully…

The list of suggestions went on but my ears were turning off. Seriously!? You had me at “over-” and the rest just sounded rather tongue-in-cheek. I mean no disrespect. I am sure the author of this article meant well and probably isn’t even the one who made up this terminology. This organization is trying to meet a very real need, but words have meaning, people!

Here is the meaning of the prefix “over”
“excessively; to an unwanted degree;” -New Oxford American Dictionary
“a prefixal use of over, preposition, adverb, or adjective, occurring in various senses in compounds (overboard; overcoat; overhang; overlap; overlord; overrun; overthrow), and especially employed, with the sense of “over the limit,” “to excess,” “too much,” “too,” to form verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and nouns ( overact; overcapitalize; overcrowd; overfull; overmuch; oversupply; overweight), and many others, mostly self-explanatory: a hyphen, which is commonly absent from old or well-established formations, is sometimes used in new coinages or in any words whose component parts it may be desirable to set off distinctly.” -Dictionary.com

Replacing the prefix with its actual meaning, the above quote can be translated “being excessively excitable to an unwanted degree is OK and it is understood and accepted.” They are gifted, right? Really bright? I am betting that more than a few have understood the meaning of “over-.” Gifted people and those who interact with them often need help understanding and accepting their differences and viewing them as a good thing, but this kind of language is not helping anyone.

From the perspective of many gifted people, these “excesses” are normality, which makes the rest of the “normal” world seem rather dull. These people generally avoid calling the “normal” people dull and would appreciate if the “normal” folk would avoid calling them excessive.

All these characteristics are spectrums of human behavior, and to discuss them one must use language that describes where on the spectrum you are referring to, thus comparative language is necessary. If you want to set the standard language according to the most “normal” people, that makes sense to me, but please don’t choose language that smuggles in an upper “acceptable” limit. That shoots you in the foot. Many of these people would be considered “highly intelligent.” Wouldn’t it serve everyone better to call them highly psychomotor, highly sensual, highly intellectual, highly imaginational, and/or highly emotional. This would accurately describe their position with respect to the norm, and would have a positive connotation which would help the gifted and those who interact with them truly accept and appreciate the diversity.