“Hello, nice to meet you. My name is Alice, I am thirteen years of age, and I am in Gifted.” Gifted. That’s a word frequently used amongst me and my friends. Why is it used so often? Don’t ask, I’m not quite sure. Some of us use it as a badge of honor, others as an excuse to be intelligent (or, sometimes, completely different from the norm), or, on occasion, we just use it to describe us totally.
Amongst the other peers at our middle school, the whole label of “gifted” automatically places us into the smart category, a category that is only available to the highly intelligent. Now, when I say highly, I don’t mean extremely intelligent. No, usually “highly intelligent” means a GPA of 4.0 and a habit of using so-called “big words” when speaking. These stereotypical smart tactics are used to label us “gifted” kids, and, to a lot of the people in the actual gifted program, it makes us higher and mightier than the other kids in our school. If you don’t like the term “gifted”, you have probably heard the word “nerd” more often.
It basically means the same thing, other than the fact that the gifted kids seem to earn a certain respect and pride that others do not. This doesn’t mean that we aren’t picked on from time to time for being part of this program. More than once, I have been called “nerd” or “geek” in a way that is meant to be insulting. However, for me (and many of the other nerds of the world), this term is actually something to be… quite proud of. But gifted? Now, that’s different. I know a lot of kids who people say “should be in gifted” because of their indifference or smarts, lots of parents proud and successful when their children are accepted into the program.
I’m totally eager to be apart of gifted education, but sometimes I wonder. The program was originally just a program for advanced learners in a school, kids that need a bit more of a challenge in the classroom. But, this program plucked from nothingness and placed into a social environment like a public school can turn into somewhat of a problem. For starters, the name itself. “Gifted and Talented” is the name of the game, and while this may have been originally a nice idea, I can’t help but think of the majority of kids who weren’t selected to be apart of this group. It’s as if the rest are not as special as the selected, could never be nearly as intelligent as the students who were.
It’s like splitting the population into two categories; the brilliant, and the average. The brilliant have millions in store for them in the future, and the average are just… average. I don’t at all agree with the name and the social standards gifted sets. If you need another example of this entire fiasco, I would just tell you to take a look at my pals. Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends dearly and they all mean the world, but to others, they can be put off as… snobs. They can be quite discriminating of others un-gifted.
They may not take them nearly as seriously or automatically classify them as “not at all like us”. I’m not taking myself out of this mix, it’s an automatic impulse to wonder if someone is in gifted or not. There’s something about the communication amongst the group, the relation, that automatically makes us bond. But, at the same time, I hang out and am chums with others not in the program. My friends are as well.
It’s just a nice thing to be with kids who think like you, who are like you. But this discrimination can be quite harmful. There are kids at my school who truly and honestly believe that there is nothing in store for them because they aren’t included in the program. “Gifted” is more than special education. It’s a label, a badge, that sticks with you for the rest of your life. It separates you from the rest.
But what about the rest? Will they never be as brilliant, as well off, as the intelligent “gifted” kids? Since they are not in the program, does that mean they are not gifted, never will be… different from the rest? Never have a gift, because they aren’t in gifted? That is the reputation that is starting to evolve. Hello, my name is Alice I., I am thirteen years of age, and I am gifted. We all are.