I came across this article this week-end “Pathologizing Normal Gifted Behavior“ and something in it struck a chord with me- How many teachers…how many PARENTS. (grandparents too!) have misunderstood a child’s behavior because it didn’t match their norm?
I have worked with thousands of really smart and gifted students. Because these kids are smart in SO MANY areas, most adults ASSUME that these children know how to sit still or follow directions. These adults have adult-like conversations with these kids and two minutes later turn around and expect them to behave like an adult! I have heard teachers tell me that “Tommy could certainly not be gifted as he never finishes his work when I ask him to” Or “Susie is certainly not all that smart if she misses so many spelling words – there is NO WAY I’m letting her read THAT book until she reads EVERY WORD CORRECTLY! besides, she is ALWAYS squirming around in her seat!” As the article duly notes– MAYBE THESE KIDS ARE BORED!!
“A gifted child who is unchallenged in the classroom will often act out and that acting out can be physical. The child can fidget and fuss. He will seem to have a hard time focusing and paying attention. He might daydream. However, once that child is provided with an appropriate challenge, the behaviors disappear, sometimes overnight“.
I am a firm believer that these kids NEED to be positively challenged, while at the same time nurtured for the very sensitivities that also make them gifted children. Being the classroom teacher for these students needs special training- not everyone is cut out to teach these kids. They CAN be challenging!- HOWEVER, the worst thing that can happen is if teachers who teach these students do not understand their complexities. They are curious! Give them the challenge and the direction with limits and these kids will do anything for you! They do, after all, want to please! I applaud Ms Bainbridge for writing this article. Parents of gifted students might do well to copy and send it to their teacher!