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!