This time of year brings one season to a close while opening up a beautiful one of foggy mornings, dew on the grass, leaves turning colors, pumpkins everywhere.
Yesterday in 9th grade we were looking at an autopsy of a brain and how they prepare one for testing. It was interesting to see and we got discussing what scientists can (and cannot) see when they autopsy a brain. No matter how thinly you slice it, how strong your microscope is, you can see the neurons and dendrites, watch the neurotransmitters, but you can’t see what a person is thinking. Our thoughts, and how neurotransmitters move them along, is still a big mystery. Yet we all have thoughts all the time.
I read an interesting article that I wanted to share with you about the pressure gifted students put themselves under through their own thought processes. The article is called “Pressure to be Super Smart” by Paula Prober. Living with a gifted child, you know how exasperating it can be at times when nothing is good enough, things are too easy and boring, no one understands the child at school and the child would rather hang out with adults that his/her peers in school. The questions, the flood of information, the intensities can wear you down.
Yet, let’s try to look at what is going on in the mind of your child while all this external vocalization is going on. Inside, the thoughts go something like this: “live up to the label, always get the best grades, know everything before you learn it, be the winner, always do your best, find all learning to be easy, not disappoint anyone, do the right thing, always be kind, solve all problems, know all the answers first, attend an elite university, win a Nobel prize, be clever and funny, make no mistakes (be perfect), never fail (did I mention, be perfect?), save the world.” (Prober) My favorite complaint from teachers is “How is this kid gifted? In my class he/she’s not very good.” Can you imagine the pressure to be gifted when you are actually “just normal” in one area? No one is gifted in all areas, even if they are able to perform well in all areas, they are not gifted in all they do. And we should not put that pressure on a child.
Prober’s article has some suggestions on how to calm the wheeling thoughts of a gifted child, the pressure that child puts on him/herself. It is worth the read and worth a discussion (or two) with your child. As always, if you have questions, feel free to ask.