The Tears of a Teacher

Last week I wrote about some characteristics of Gifted children. I shared the Neihart and Betts information.  One aspect of that is starting to become more and more evident in one of my classes. That aspect is this: The Underground.

Type 3: The Underground 

These students hide their giftedness. Most of the time, in middle school these students are females. By high school some males fall into this category because of the pressure to pursue sports. By in large this group is female who hide their gifts and talents to fit in with the non-gifted crowd. These girls are anxious and insecure. They begin this change in middle school, and pushing these students can make them abandon their talents and gifts even more.

What makes these students so complicated is the fact they have gifts and talents, and they purposely choose to ignore those just to fit in. They change who they are to be something they are not.

My Gifted Girl

I have a class that mainly made of up of girls. They are a vibrant, creative, and a talkative group.  This group works well together, and  at times goes they go through their own struggles like all students do. What makes me sad about this group is that it is getting smaller. It started out with a mixed group of students around 10 in number. It has shrunk to a small group of four girls. As we were talking this morning, my students were telling me they missed the few other girls that have left the Enrichment class. They left class for a variety of reasons, but for the most part they left because they want to fit in with their other friends.

What makes me sad is the fact that our school district has brilliant, gifted, and motivated girls who would fore go the development of their gifts and talents and settle in to mundane school life just to fit in. I wish I could bring these girls to the realization that it isn’t others who bring you self-worth or identity. It is themselves. It pains me to think about these girls and the decisions they are making when it comes to choosing socializing than to ultimate success not only in school, but in the future. My heart is truly broken.

My Gifted Girl2

One of the most frustrating aspects of this pain that I have for these girls is the fact I don’t know how to change it. As a teacher I talk to them and encourage them, but I don’t think it goes anywhere. I wish that I could show them the mistake they are making like the ghosts show Ebenezer Scrooge his life in the past, present, and future. I am not saying that being in my class is the answer. What I am saying is these girls need to shown that they are a huge asset to their family, school, and community. They have so much potential to do some amazing things in the future, and they are throwing it away. Even as I write this I get that heavy lump in my throat. I want them to see themselves like other teachers along with myself see them.

What do you do to reach these girls who hide themselves to fit in?  I saw the quote above from a really good Facebook Page called My Gifted Girl. It is a wonderful place to go to read about what gifted girls are doing. I have suggested this website to my girls in hope that they understand that they shouldn’t give up on their gifts and talents.

What do you suggest how to reach these talented girls?


9 thoughts on “The Tears of a Teacher

  1. “What do you do to reach these girls who hide themselves to fit in?”
    Talk about the problem head on, early and often. Name it: impostor syndrome, peer pressure, underachievement, etc. Acknowledge as a gender issue. Bring in high school and college girls that are graduates of your program to show that they can be fun, dynamic individuals *and* smart. Do Skype calls with women who are professionals in fields that interest your students.

    Reach out one-on-one to girls who drop out of the program. Survey the parents for their perspective.

    Thank you for paying attention. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. By the time I get a lot of these women in my university classes, there’s a lot of self esteem to rebuild.

  2. This post really resonates with me because I have a gifted 11 year old son (and I suspect that I may have been gifted as a young boy before the nomenclature became mainstream). I suppose that the problems plaguing these youth are the same, but different. It is the culture of society dictating what the term successful means. Unfortunately, the measuring stick has come to be defined as popularity instead of our ability to impact the world and people around us.
    In the end, individuals (especially kids) will come to acknowledge the feeling their actions have on the world around them only when they are ready. I don’t believe that we can force it upon them. The harder we try, the further we push them away from our original intent.
    What we can do, and I have tried to do with my son, is to cultivate an atmosphere of positive reinforcement and acknowledgement. I try to use creative ways to take my son’s talents and showcase them within the societal norms that others see on a daily basis. Although we wish that our youth would just trust what we say, it isn’t that way. And I can’t say I blame them. I did the same thing 😉 What we ultimately need to do is find a way for these young people to recognize just what type of impact that they can have on the world around them. When we do that, we will not only light a fire in their hearts, but also in those other “followers” of societal norms.
    I guess if it were an easy solution, we would have already fixed it, right? I sincerely appreciate you bringing this subject to light in the public forum and hope that together, as a society, we can help awaken these bright young minds to the infinite possibilities.

  3. I was that girl as I mentioned in response to one of your other posts. You can tell them all you want about how great it is to be gifted but to them it will be just talk. These girls need to be shown how great it is to be gifted and what gifted girls are doing. I would suggest going on a field trip to your local gifted High School or to a University. Contact the gifted organizations in your area and find out what things they are involved in and see if you would be able to bring your class to some of their events or outings. I can assure you this will work much better than telling them how great they are and what wonderful things they can do. All they see and feel is unpopular nerd. No tween/teen wants to be that. Sadly all the media does is show girls that they need to be pretty and popular, and nothing more. This makes girls feel pressure and it also puts pressure on the boys not to be interested in the smart girl, but to try to get the pretty and popular girl. I strongly suggest the field trips.

  4. Great article. It’s such a difficult conversation to have with kids because they just don’t see the future as clearly as they think they do. There are great suggestions in this comment thread & I’m bookmarking it to share this post with others. Thanks for writing about this important topic.

  5. Pingback: Gifted…It’s Who They Are | Ramblings of a Gifted Teacher

  6. Pingback: The Imposter Syndrome and Gifted Children | Ramblings of a Gifted Teacher

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