Two Great Reads About Gifted Kids

I think about gifted education a lot, but haven’t been writing much on the topic. Still, I found two great reads on gifted kids that I had to share. As so often happens in popular media, I thought this post, I don’t care if you kid is smarter than mine, was going to slam gifted kids, but it turned out to be a spot-on piece about what smart kids need to succeed as adults.

This piece from The New York Times Magazine is framed on raising a musical prodigy, but has some gems that will leave any parent of a highly or profoundly gifted child nodding in agreement. Thanks to Alyson English for pointing it out.

The money quote? 

I found that stigmatized differences — having Down syndrome, autism or deafness; being a dwarf or being transgender — are often clouds with silver linings. Families grappling with these apparent problems may find profound meaning, even beauty, in them. Prodigiousness, conversely, looks from a distance like silver, but it comes with banks of clouds… 

Amen to that.

This also spoke to me:

Many gifted kids have A.D.D. or O.C.D. or Asperger’s. When the parents are confronted with two sides of a kid, they’re so quick to acknowledge the positive, the talented, the exceptional; they are often in denial over everything else.” 

That was a huge issue for us when my boys attended a private school for gifted children The school favored the “Columbus” definition of giftedness, which notes the asynchronous development of gifted children. I subscribe to this definition as well, but the school leadership seemed to explain away a lot of quirky, sometimes inappropriate or potentially dangerous, behaviors that might have been better addressed through a type of therapy and/or medication rather than brushed off as a byproduct of giftedness.


There is no federal mandate for gifted education. But if we recognize the importance of special programs for students whose atypical brains encode less-accepted differences, we should extrapolate to create programs for those whose atypical brains encode remarkable abilities. 

I’ve been singing that song for a few years now. Though there are meaningful exceptions, for the most part, NCLB has been horrible for gifted children. 

More importantly, there is no funding for gifted education. Zero federal education dollars. Can you image if that was true for other forms of special education?

Go read the full article. It’s worth your time.

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