A search that led someone to this blog recently was “bright vs. gifted.” This made me curious — what’s the difference? We’re so sloppy with our terms — smart, bright, gifted (moderately, highly, exceptionally, profoundly, etc.), talented, high-performing, high-acheiving, high-potential . . . what a muddle. No wonder my state’s G/T organization has been having a length discussion on how to use terminology that will make it easier for school districts to implement better gifted programs. (Fie upon that, sez I! Clone a flying pig while you’re at it!)
I did find an interesting web page from TagFam with a discussion of that very distinction, however, and to many parents of gifted children it will make sense:
Comparison of Bright vs Gifted
Bright Child vs. Gifted Child
Knows the answers. vs. Asks the questions.
Interested. vs. Extremely curious.
Pays attention. vs. Gets involved physically
Works hard. vs. Plays around, still gets
good test scores.
Answers questions. vs. Questions the answers.
Enjoys same-age peers vs. Prefers adults or older
Good at memorization. vs. Good at guessing.
Learns easily. vs. Bored. Already knew the
Listens well. vs. Shows strong feelings
Self-satisfied. vs. Highly critical of self
On the one hand: yes, I understand these distictions, because I live them. On the other hand — why do we make them? There was a little voice in the back of my head asking whether this was a way of saying either “Yes, your child is smart, but mine is smarter,” or “Oh, my child is too smart to bother with co-operating and getting along.”
But then when I remembered how we ended up homeschooling (perhaps not why we keep homeschooling, but how we started) I thought, yes, if educators understood some of these distinctions between kids who appear to do well in traditional school and kids who are clearly more than capable of the work and yet struggle in school, maybe that would help. In any case, I think it can help parents of those gifted kids and in turn the kids themselves.
It’s not a contest — it’s not like my profoundly gifted kid gets the gold while Mr. moderately gifted gets a bronze and Miss diligent student gets honorary mention. Every day in this house we see that giftedness is global — it’s a very vague word for explaining how a person’s brain works whether that person is using her mind in intentional ways or not. It’s an intense way of being that — I know, get out the violins — can be as exhausting and trying as it is a “gift.”
And it helps to talk about it — at least among friends — because it just is different from the way the vast majority of people and institutions operate. Without acknowledging that difference, way too many gifted children and adults devise “coping” strategies like feeling alienated, superior, inferior, or all three at once. They don’t recognize that they’re kind of like elite athletes, who use their muscles more intensely than most must and so also rest them more intentionally than most — except that the intense engagement of the brain can feel almost involuntary. (I don’t know — do super-athletic types have an almost involuntary tendency toward constant physical motion? I’m not the one to ask. 😉 )
I’ve probably said too much already. Anything in sympathy with giftedness seems guaranteed to offend someone, and it’s probably obvious that I’m thinking as much of my own experience as that of my daughter! I guess, like Violet, I find how the brain/mind works endlessly fascinating.