Who are you, the person who finds yourself reading Metagifted? You are probably the parent or teacher of a gifted child, or you are the gifted person him/herself, or perhaps you are both. If none of these descriptions fit, you are probably simply one who is interested in understanding more about gifted persons or about metaphysical development. If none of these fit at all, I'm afraid you may be lost. If one or more do fit, please read on!
The following letter is from an extremely gifted young adult. I have used it on this site with his permission. In his letter he tells me of his difficulties growing up and dealing with the school system. This is all too typical of how gifted children are treated by their peers, schools, and families. He has had a very difficult time with his "gifts" and was never really understood by anyone. In addition to his 'extreme giftedness', Jacob is a very good example of an Indigo Child
Perhaps by understanding what some gifted children go through, you can develop compassion and understanding for why we need to help these children. This was the first email I received from him and we were complete strangers at the time. Since this first email we have become very good friends.
Thank you, Jake, for letting me publish this edited version of your letter so that it might help enlighten others as well.
I am in complete support of what you're doing with Metagifted. I truly hope that your work can, at least in part, influence the lives of young people and help them become successful adults. You've dedicated your life to this, and I find that to be incredibly admirable, and worthy of the highest respect. Knowing nothing about gifted education, but having a great deal of experience as a guinea pig in test-programs, I can only contribute by telling you about my life. Maybe it will lend some insight to what you already know about kids who fall outside textbook cases.
I don't know if there's any way to say "Yeah, I'm a gifted individual" without sounding pretentious and conceited. Even saying "other people have labeled me this way" is pretty bad. My mother likes to use the phrase "severely gifted," due to the often hand-in-hand nature of virtues and problems that gifted kids exhibit.
I suppose the only way I can explain my own history is extreme emotional immaturity, versus extreme intellectual maturity. I was reading at a college level in first grade, and at college age, I often have the emotional stability of a first-grader. I was so skilled at manipulation and wordplay that I could easily pass myself off as an adult, to the general public (including school faculty) - In reality, though, I was little more than a smart kid with giant dysfunctions.
In school (a gifted program started in the late 80s,) we were basically a group of kids with tested high IQ (130 was the cutoff, I can't tell you mine without becoming visibly nauseous and sounding like a liar) and although the tenets were in place in this program, creative learning, problem solving, etc. the facilities for implementing them was not. It was basically "lots of 'busy-work' with a cool project every month or so." I very quickly became tired of the menu, and decided to fix my own recipes. Algebra is more fun when you add by throwing paper airplanes with numbers written on them.
Other students would present typical, tightly paraphrased book reports that their parents co-wrote, complete with pretty computer printouts, in a clear plastic binder. They were precise, high-quality, and followed the assignment perfectly. They received A+ marks. I would present a one-man theater production with costumes, music I composed myself, papier mache props, an elaborate script, and handpainted backdrops. The presentation would take an entire class period, and people would stare strangely for hours afterward. My projects were always started the night before they were due, and finished sometime around noon the next day. Nobody really knew what to say, think, or do in response; I took an assignment, said "nah, this is boring" and did something totally different. And nobody knew, at the time, how to handle exceptions.
Talent shows were fun, too. I watched a home movie the other day of my second grade talent show, and saw one of my classmates sing "Don't Fence Me In" in a cowboy hat and chaps, followed by four kids playing "Hot Cross Buns" on violins (sort of) -- followed by me playing a four-minute piano composition. People clapped politely. They didn't know it was original; they also didn't know I made it up on the spot, as I went along. And when I was done, I faked a stumble walking off the stage, to garner one last bit of attention.
I was a performer, a class clown. Spent as much time in isolated suspension as I did receiving commendations. Very often, I would do something to hurt or embarass myself, if it meant people would laugh with, admire, or marvel at me. The very notion that I was unreadable and I knew it was an ego-boost. I scored perfectly on every standardized test, performed classwork with very little effort, and still managed to be threatened with expulsion by the time I was 10, for building weapons with model-rocket engines and shooting them at various girls.
Throughout childhood and adolescence, the "folks" tried to explain the accompanying emotional problems with the help of about a dozen therapists. I went from ADHD to ADD to Bipolar to Obsessive/Compulsive, more medications than you can shake a pestle at, and then the doctors threw up their hands and said "what's the point? He won't level with us, how are we supposed to diagnose this problem?" And it was always a "problem." Not conforming, not playing the game, not following directions, having an imagination that got in the way of taking orders was a thing to be corrected, a disorder. A chemical imbalance.
I think the most important thing to stress when dealing with a similar case is STAY CENTERED IN REALITY and realize that sometimes you have to do unpleasant things to achieve desirable goals. That's where I faltered, and luckily I didn't end up behind bars, permanently institutionalized, or dead. Others might not be so lucky, and I'm upset that there aren't more people like you to help guide them. Awareness is the first step in development, and you're making people more aware that "gifted kids don't always function flawlessly just because they're smart."
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