Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Einstein Hair...

After weeks of reading this blog, you've no doubt noticed that I am the Teacher of the Gifted, and NOT the Gifted Teacher.  While those that I work with, or say that phrase to, understand my need for qualifying my title, the same can not be said for many in education who seem to want the student with the gifted label to sit, Matilda-esque, in their classrooms, hanging on their every word, with an answer (but only when they want to call on them) and submitting perfect assignments -- oh, and ON TIME, mind you.

The realities of the gifted population, as a whole, are as diverse as the number of students possessing the gifted label.

"How Can that Kid POSSIBLY be Gifted?"

I remember, distinctly, sitting in the back seat of a minivan with a friend of mine and her daughter.  The child was in fourth or fifth grade at the time, was identified as gifted, and interrupted the adult conversation happening in the van to stick her feet straight out in front of her and ask her mother, "Are my shoes on the right feet?"

Seriously?  You've been on this planet for a decade, you are allegedly gifted, and you don't know whether your shoes are on the right feet?  Several years later I became the Teacher of the Gifted (TOG) for that girl, and that same mother asked me to include "Turning off lights when she leaves a room" as a goal in her annual Gifted Individualized Education Plan  (GIEP).

It's easy, as mere mortals, to conceptualize the "perfect gifted child."  There also is the tendency to consider a child labelled as gifted as someone who has somehow been awarded the Heisman Trophy for intelligence.  The reality is BEING gifted and DEMONSTRATING giftedness are two entirely different things.  

There are parents who request districts to test, there are parents who PAY some expert in the community to test, and identify  their child as gifted.  And, there are far more people rooting for their child to BE gifted than are attempting to get a label for little Johnnie or Susie to receive Learning Support.

The reality is that there is absolutely no difference between qualifying for learning support and qualifying for gifted.  The reason that Johnny or Susie qualifies, is because he or she is on the flatter end of the almighty psychological bell-curve, indicating a need for some sort of alternative education or instruction.  Being gifted isn't a prize.  Often, it is anything but.

So how do we explain that less-than Matilda behavior in an allegedly-gifted student?  More importantly why does the world not question when a learning-support student says something incredibly bright?  

My answer to the first question is simple:  EINSTEIN HAIR.  Seriously.  Albert Einstein is universally accepted as one of the brightest people to have lived (and applied himself).  If you saw him on the street, you'd most likely cross to the other side to avoid eye contact.  All these years later, everybody chalks up his unique hairdo to his uniqueness.

Forget the mold.  There isn't one. 

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