Again, I am pleasantly surprised by how much I am enjoying the readings I have been assigned for my courses. My latest is a series of articles on the gifted education, a topic near and dear to my heart as I was involved in such programs from the seventh grade onward.
Back then, as I’m sure it is now, the term was as much a stigma as it was a compliment. Teachers applied it to those of us that did our work and showed initiative, but the other kids looked at it as a deliberate posture of elitism, whether we actively sought the designation or not. And I won’t even attempt to lie to myself by saying that they were jealous; popularity and athletic ability went much further in grade school than they do in my current profession.
Reading these articles, I am fascinated by how much the research into the brain has changed what it means to be “gifted.” It used to be something that meant you were hardwired better than the next kid. You had a greater capacity for learning. You thought faster and in more varied ways. You were smarter than the average. You were different. You were the mental equivalent of homo sapiens superior, for you Marvel Comic nerds out there (and all us gifted kids were, I can assure you).
Now, everything seems to be pointing to the idea that gifted kids are made, not born. Environment, it seems, does more to make a kid fit the mold of “gifted” than any inborn capacity. It makes sense, really, since parents that encourage reading and learning and attentiveness are likely going to send their kid off to school well-prepared for academics. That kid will, in turn, probably make a lot of the work look easy and will quickly step into his or her role as a student. Not surprisingly, the kids most likely to be like this come from stable homes with good incomes.
I have no conclusions to draw yet. But I do know that if the last course was any kind of predictor for this one, I’m going to enjoy it immensely.