Gifted? I guess not.

1 Apr

Don’t ask me why I’m writing about this now, but somehow it popped into my head.

This post is about is about something that bothered me growing up.  It doesn’t really now, but I guess the fact that I’m writing about it – maybe there’s still a bit of – oh, I don’t know – thoughts?  Eh, who knows.  Send any questions or comments to my editor.

It’s about the gifted program in elementary school.

I remember back in grade school (elementary) there were kids that were labeled “gifted” because of outstanding grades or performance in school.  And I also always thinking that they were better than everyone else.  Did they act that way?  No.  It was just something I thought.

BUT THEY WERE (better)!  Well, at grades and stuff.  They rocked the exams.

I just think it’s weird that they were given such a label just for their grade performance.  At that age, kids are a bit naive (like myself) and think gifted means something much more than it is.  I remember me, along with just about everyone else not considered that, felt below them.  I thought, since they were gifted, they were ultra-special.  Like, I imagined they were so special that they were on trips to Hawaii while I was slaving away in math class.  Or something to that extreme.  I also remember thinking they probably had their own lounge in school with a pop machine that offered free Dr. Pepper, a rack of candy bars and I just imagined them sitting in there coming up with ingenious ideas – eating junk food.

The gifted kids always had special classes and were allowed their own little section in the yearbook.  I, in the meantime,  was in the learning disability classes and speech class.  So again, I felt quite pathetic compared to the gifted kids.

The big thing was, they didn’t have a gifted category in art, either.  Just grades.  At least, I’m pretty certain.  Not at my elementary school.

I guess the bothersome part of the whole grade school (and a bit further than that into middle school and high) is that kids that were better at other things BEYOND grades never had a special place in school.  I’m not sure if that’s still the case or not.  I was always good at art and drawing, but quite frankly, I just had no ambition to get good grades at other things.   I wanted to draw – so why should I?

At any rate, you can’t be a valedictorian drawing good.

I’m not sure how elementary schools are nowadays.  I hope they’re a bit more understanding though of kids that may not make the grade but show talent elsewhere, you know.  And a bit more conscience about labels they put on kids.  It seems a pretty common trend amongst artistic types that we lag in school grades.

All the learning disability classes I took I really don’t think that was the case (that I was “learning disabled”).  I think it was lack of ambition more than anything.  Thinking back, I remember that quite well.  They should’ve just thrown me in another art class or something along those lines.  At least I would’ve been doing something then.

Anyway, I just thought of that the other day.  And no, I’m not saying its a good idea not to push kids at getting good grades or anything.  I think my parents did everything possible to help me out and so did my teachers.  But, I think it was all me that couldn’t be changed.

I think the purpose of getting good grades in school is to teach kids discipline and to motivate them.  BUT – the good grades aren’t for everyone.  Especially me when I had a box of crayons.

And currently, just like then, I’d rather draw than anything else.  So, I guess I did the right thing by not listening and paying attention to the teachers and just drew.  Yeah, I’m not a rocket scientist, professor of economics or a doctor.  I have a frustrating profession that I often worry and wonder how I’ll earn buck the next day (cartooning – freelancing especially –  is like car sales – you never know for sure how sales are going to go on particular times).  However, I probably wouldn’t be where I’m at if I studied harder and made ‘A’s’.  Even if it meant not getting a gifted label.  I can only say I’m happy with what I’ve got.

I hope I’m not coming across as bitter or anything.  After reading this, you might be thinking to yourself, “Nate, get over it!  That was back in grade school!  Get a grip.”  Don’t worry – I’m totally over it (let’s hope).  As I mentioned, I just thought about this several days ago and I guess it bothered me a bit.  But, I don’t lose sleep over it.  (I’m currently losing sleep due to eating too much Easter candy, however.)

Gifted?  Bla!

It’s not for everyone.  And I think really misinterpreted what they were as a kid.  BUT – if I was right back then, I’m sure currently the gifted students probably have fond memories of those Hawaiian vacations and the unlimited candy bars in their secret room.


11 Responses to “Gifted? I guess not.”

  1. The Philosophunculist April 1, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

    Grades are only a small part of the equation. I remember plenty of kids from elementary that didn’t get good grades, but are doing quite well now. You can’t really put a letter on creativity or people skills.

    • w101njf April 1, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

      I think so, too. And yes, it’s funny, but I know a lot of students as well that did great in school that haven’t been doing too great. The opposite is true though as well.

  2. Sandra April 2, 2013 at 3:16 am #

    I •always• have had difficulties understanding why we single out kids (gifted came just after my time–chasing me). I wonder if they created that category because in my time they started bringing challenged kids (not integrating, they had their own classes) –developmentally challenged. So maybe someone thought if they get a special category, so should smart kids?

    Anyway. It is interesting what society, at different times, considers good or important. :-/

    • w101njf April 2, 2013 at 4:08 am #

      Yeah, I’m not sure how it came about. At least they didn’t have a “Moron” program in my school (which is what schools seemed to assume since my grades were lackluster).

      • Sandra April 2, 2013 at 5:07 am #

        Thank goodness indeed!

  3. Nef April 2, 2013 at 4:14 pm #

    Sorry for the long post.

    I agree with the system being messed-up. We didn’t have “gifted” program per se, but our schools organized people in levels 1 to 3, with level 1 being the best. I guesss the idea was to tailor classes to the needs of the student, but the end result was that students were branded one type or the other, which I consider (now) unfair.

    As a kid in grade school, it never bothered me because I was always in a level-1 class and was the highest grade overall in the school. I remember teachers, or even parents (sadly) talking about me to other kids and about how great it would be if they could be even a little like me. I don’t want to even think of what they told level-2 or level-3 classes…

    It was not until much later that I realized that all that was just the product of being great at test-taking, and not to any other generalized super-brain ability as I had come to believe.

    Don’t get me wrong, I have benefited greatly from the over-emphasis that society places on test-taking. It gave me entrance to a good school and has given me promotions at work, but I know that the system also stops some great people from achieving their dreams just because a piece fo paper says so. One good friend in middle school was what I always called a genius. In seventh grade he built a mechanical arm that worked for science fair, but because he was poor in school, he could not get to engineering school and had to go and learn to repair electric appliances, which he still does for a living.

    Now that I’m an adult, it pains me to think of those kids who were placed in level-3 classrooms, and indoctrinated in the fact that they were not good enough. I’d hope schools would be more enlightened these days, but I can still see the self-esteem issues in my own children. I even had to take one child out of school for a year to be home-schooled so she could realize that she was actually very smart, and just had to learn how she learned best. At the same time, another seems to be breezing through and bragging about how great he is… I only hope I was not THAT annoying as a kid, but if I was, there is still hope for him.

    Yes, I agree with you. There are problems with this, however, I think that the tendency to analyze, classify, organize and label things that we apply to students is an integral part of who we are and what makes us human. This is at least part of the reason it is so hard to stop doing it to each other, even though deep inside we know it is not the right thinkg to do.

    • w101njf April 3, 2013 at 7:10 am #

      It’s just a pretty strong word to use – GIFTED. And it really did bother a lot of the kids in my school – not just me. But yes, there will always be labels. I was known as ARTISTIC, but again, that doesn’t account for much when there are D’s and F’s in math class.

  4. Bearman Cartoons April 2, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

    They didn’t call me “gifted”, they called me “special” haha

    • w101njf April 3, 2013 at 7:10 am #

      ‘Special’ is – well – special! 😉


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