Just checking in

I have been unwell all week, so if anything interesting happened, I was unable to remember it, much less write about it.

After a week in near-hibernation, however, I did manage to get to about half of our state homeschool convention. I missed the keynote, I missed the “planning for college” session, but I did attend an inspiring session about using the state DNR (department of natural resources) for lessons. I am hoping to attend an educators’ workshop soon for their Project Learning Tree curriculum. I am really excited to find out more, as this is something perfect for Victoria that I think Violet can also benefit from.

I also attended a session about “putting doubts into perspective.” I did have a flash about why I like to attend the local gifted conference as well. Much of the conversation was about kids who aren’t hitting state benchmarks or who show gifts in nonacademic area (i.e., “Someone needs to be the pipefitter,” etc.). I am in agreement with what was said — I am among the first to pipe up that a child not reading at age 6 or 7 does not necessarily require intervention, and I offer the story that I know of a English doctoral candidate who did not learn to read (in her Montessori school) until she was 10 and finally decided she wanted to. And I hope it is obvious that hands-on technical work is incredibly important and valuable.

But those aren’t really my doubts. As we discussed how turning to “experts” can undermine our confidence, I realized that my doubts were more about the risks we’ve been threatened with for gifted kids: higher rates of depression and possibly for suicide, Imposter Syndrome, lack of challenges translating to lack of initiative and self-motivation, burn-out, alienation. As I said, sometimes it seems like if we don’t parent just right, our children will explode!

I wasn’t feeling the love when I raised that issue, and I kind of regretted it. A room where some parents are worried about kids not hitting certain developmental milestones is not the best place to say, “Oh, and I’m so worried because my kid is bright!” (which is not quite what I said, but you know . . . ) Still, the presenter did give some good basic advice: when the “expert” is making you feel worse, look elsewhere.

I like experts, by the way. I’m not anti-expert. I hire experts when I need something done that I can’t do. I read and research. And I came to think of higher education as an opportunity to pick the brains of experts, not just to get information, but to get their help in making myself a better writer and thinker. (Wish I had cottoned onto that earlier!)

Still, none of those things need make you feel bad, even when you learn you need to change your ways.

The challenge, I suppose, is that folks who write about gifted education are usually writing about gifted education in the schools, which means that they are trying to convey a sense of urgency as a way of advocating for gifted students. So as a parent, I’m reading and thinking “oh my gosh, wow, there’s danger everywhere!”

I’d like to find the “gifted experts” who let me know that it’s going to turn out OK, I can do it, and more than that my kids can do it.

And now I have to go watch Elizabeth with my husband!

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5 Comments

Filed under Curriculum, Gifted Heart and Soul, Oh Mother, Resources -- Gifted, Uncategorized, Why Homeschool?

5 responses to “Just checking in

  1. It’s interesting that you mention impostor syndrome as it affects 70% of adults and is especially prevalent in high achieving women.

    I just wrote a book called The Impostor Syndrome.

    The Impostor Syndrome is the feeling that you are not as smart, talented, or skilled as people think you are. It’s the feeling that you are a fake and have been getting away with something and are about to be found out. I

    If you’re interested, you may download Chapter One at: http://www.johngraden.com/files/the_impostor_syndrome.php

    You can also see me speak on the subject at: http://www.JohnGradenTV.com

  2. It might be that school itself is a factor in all of those things. If I think of other groups (like LGBT kids) with high rates of depression and suicide, it seems that the school environment, along with a wider cultural environment that is not supportive (or even downright hostile) is a big contributor. So maybe some of the things you are worried about are going to be less of a risk precisely because of the decisions you’ve already made.

    And some of it is precisely the attitude you came up against in that particular session. But asking your questions in that kind of venue at least raises the issue for those other parents. And other things you do (individually and with other parents of gifted kids) help change that cultural environment albeit slowly.

    I think one thing that might be important is for the discourse about giftedness to not be primarily about school and education. Those issues you are worried about aren’t necessarily educational issues. And they certainly aren’t things that I was particularly aware of until I started reading your blog.

  3. So much to say, and not enough brain power this morning to say it! Forgive me if it comes out garbled …

    I’ve given up mostly on the gifted experts. They only see things with a particular focus and, here in the field of action, I’m dealing with a multi-faceted and complex human being who is more than her giftedness. Taking this perspective has removed some of the looming weight giftedness has had over our lives and also some of that anxiety you write about. I’m not so worried now that Rose will be a wreck of an adult if she doesn’t get her intellectual needs met in the right way … rather, I’m worried that she will be a wreck of an adult because I don’t have sit-at-the-table dinners, or because she spends too much/little time with children her own age, or because she needs more sports, etc etc. (Parents will always worry, lol!)

    But what I saw mostly in your post was that once again the mother of a gifted child had her needs, her concerns, sneered at. Who’s to say the parent of a slow reader is more entitled to worry than the parent of an advanced reader who can’t go to public school because they won’t met her needs? It makes me cross.

  4. Angela,

    I’ll offer some advice for you to hold onto–You are your child’s best advocate, despite any prediction or opinion of experts. No one can possibly know our children as well as we do, if we take ourselves and our insecurities out of the equation. We have an inherent ability to sense when we are not doing enough, when we need to step back or when we need to outsource, if we ONLY take heed to our own gut feelings.
    That isn’t always the most easiest thing to do . But if you strive for that sort of authenticity , your children will benefit not only from the resultant discoveries, but from the watching a parent acknowledge and accept limitations as natural. And that , my dear, will give any old imposter syndrome a swift kick out the door!

  5. I hope to see you at the Gathering next year. It is wonderful and you will totally be able to talk about all those things. It is very cathartic.

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