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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Parents of "Gifted Children"


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OK, folks, I apologize in advance for the crankiness :angry::D , but that's how I feel whenever this topic comes up. Bear with me.


I have the hardest time with tests in school for "giftedness". They are narrowly defined tests and do NOT measure all the various ways a child can be gifted. Frankly I hate the term. For every kid who receives that label, I can show you another kid who didn't but who is most certainly gifted in ways that don't test well on a public school scale.


I don't believe in the labeling - many people will live up to their labels, whatever they are. I wouldn't want to peg any kid gifted or not gifted. I hate what that label says to kids who don't receive it. Some of THOSE kids are the most talented kids I've ever known but, for whatever reason they don't fit the narrowly defined criteria. Other "gifted" kids light up later in their lives, after a nice, long, sleepy childhood but they didn't have the benefit of that label. Many gifted individuals don't have a tortured "die for my art" soul, nor do they seem like anything other than happy easy-going folks throughout their lives; it doesn't make them less gifted. Easier temperament perhaps, but that doesn't cancel out "giftedness".


"Gifted" label or not, the individual has to live with the implications of the labeling.


The only reason it exists in schools is to create a track for students. The school structure itself is an obstacle to talented, intelligent kids. Some show it by checking out mentally - dreaming through their school days, socializing throughout them. People can be deceived by that group, and think they are less "gifted" than others. Others show it by fighting their way through, either physically or emotionally.


Anyhow, I want to urge a healthy dose of caution in relying on such labels. Personally I think the ONLY thing that really matters is knowing your own child and feeding to your own child whatever s/he is ready for. Everyone here does that just fine. :D A label isn't necessary.

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Thanks Vagansmom. You said what I was thinking. I wrote this long post about why I feel skeptical about the "gifted" label, then decided to briefly explain that I have three kids, out of five, that are gifted but would never be labeled as such.


One dd now plays for a professional symphony after graduating with a degree in music performance from a state university, after having apprenticed during high school with a violin maker, learning to repair and restore stringed instruments. She had been tested at a Center for Development and Learning while in middle school. They labeled her ADD. She had always wanted to participate in AG (academically gifted) programs in third and fourth grade, but didn't score the required points. She was two points too low.


One ds was tested at Johns Hopkins. His scores were extremely high on tests for logic and comprehension, but extremely low on processing skills--as Vagansmom knows, those discrepancies mean a learning disability. My ds is very challenged by visual memory. He would never be labeled gifted by most instruments for testing.


Dancing dd was also labeled as having a learning problem during kindergarten. Fortunately, she was homeschooled from 2nd to 12th grade and never had that label follow her. She won two literature awards in her homeschool fair, and two writing awards from the local high school.


Conversely, dh and I were both labeled gifted in elementary school, and placed in classes that had the same students in them for several years. Many of these students had problems with the pressure placed on them to succeed, do more, be creative: to behave like a gifted kid. Dh wishes he had never been placed in these classes. I just didn't like school.


So I guess I told you the whole story. I'll step off my soapbox now...


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I agree also about the labeling of children. We used the "gifted" label to move our children to what we thought was a better school. The whole gifted thing was bogus. The gifted classes were full of teacher's kids who knew how to work the system. Having their kids in these classes protected them from the big bad bussed kids. These teachers didn't like our son in class with their children and railroaded him out. It took us awhile to figure this out and we did confront the principal and he acted surprised but came close to admitting it. Suddenly my son was back in the protected class. My supposed non-gifted daughter never had a problem fitting in and continued in the high school gifted program. She always laughed when we received mail from the GATE program addressed to the parents of ...... She did very well and was prepared for college. My son tried the program for one year in high school but the homework was too much for him so he moved into a technology program that's a bit slower but less homework. The biggest gift my son :D has is getting himself in and out of hot water for the silliest things. He is bright and he is a leader. He gives me lots stress and gray hair but ya gotta love the boy. It's going to be very interesting to see the direction he takes in life.

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I didn't type this post to lable children, or toot a horn. I simply saw an article that I felt described 99% of dancers and thought I'd share.

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We were told at a preschool (3 year old) parent teacher conference that my daughter was difficult to redirect. When I asked what that meant the teacher said she will not move from one activity to another until she feels she has finished it to her satisfaction. On the way home my husband asked is that a good trait? I said it means she is stubborn which can be a good trait. Twelve years later I think this trait has lead her to her success as a honor student and her achievment in ballet.

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I really enjoyed it. I think the "gifted" label is an interesting one. Strong feelings on both sides. Almost like politics and religion. Given there have been over 1000 views to this thread---I suspect most of us read it and enjoyed "seeing" our children in it. B)

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I tend to agree with the post by vagansmom, in that I have one child who is labeled gifted and two who are not. Quite frankly, my two "non-gifted" children function better in the world, are better students, make better grades, have better social skills, are more self-motivated . . . The list goes on. My talented DD does not have any of the traits listed in the article, nor is she labeled gifted by the school system, although she is a straight A student, an over-acheiver and a perfectionist. Ironically, my child who is labeled "gifted" exactly fits the description in the article. It remains to be seen as to whether he will survive himself and grow up better than anyone, as suggested in the article. I just don't think the labels do anything other than allow schools to earn extra funding for special programs. I always want to ask "gifted at what". On the road to success, raw intelligence doesn't seem likely to hold a candle to hard work and dedication. I will be so happy to eat my words some day, if life requires me to. I just haven't gotten far enough along to know the end of the story yet.


No slight intended to the original post... just commentary on the subject. B)

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