• Simply GenZ

The Curse of Being a “Gifted” Student

“Children who are gifted are defined as those who demonstrate an advanced ability or potential in one or more specific areas when compared to others of the same age, experience, or environment. These gifted individuals excel in their ability to think, reason and judge, making it necessary for them to receive special education services and support to be able to fully develop their potential and talents,” (Davidson Institute). Often, being labeled as a gifted student is due to test scores, overall academic performance, and the administrator’s own personal judgments of a child’s abilities. These students are often put in more advanced classes, given better opportunities, or viewed as more “superior” to other students.


The Issues With Labeling Students as “Gifted”


Developmental Issues- Oftentimes, “gifted” students may excel in one subject and struggle in another, but when they are placed in all advanced classes it can cause major issues. As they continue to strengthen their skills in their best subject, it is easy to begin falling behind in others. Additionally, social and emotional development can be hindered due to academic stress as well.


Studying


When students are constantly being notified about their intellectual superiority, the need for studying for subjects in the early years of school becomes seemingly useless. After years of academics coming easy, when these students come to a class that challenges them and requires studying, they often do not have the tools to effectively study. This can cause these students to fall behind, and be lost compared to their peers who have been studying to succeed in school.


Mental Health Issues


Being labeled as gifted brings a lot of major health concerns. The pressure of being expected to perform at the highest level 100% of the time is extremely damaging to children and young adults and can not only affect the student’s overall health but their ability to function in their daily lives. Anxiety, depression, perfectionism, and OCD are common issues among students who have spent their academic careers being placed on a pedestal by their teachers, parents, and peers. Academic “burnouts” can occur easily; if the mental suffering catches up to these students, they may often lose sight of the need to continue their schooling, and may completely lose motivation. Students who are labeled as “average” or “below average” may also suffer feelings of inadequacy, and severe mental health issues due to being compared their whole lives.


Socialization issues


These students are placed in higher-level, more “exclusive” classes which cause them to be isolated by their peers. When a child is placed in an upper or lower-level course, there becomes extreme competition and a placed hierarchy within education that can cause tension between peers. Sometimes this competition causes large divides in social groups since certain children feel lesser about themselves, and socialization issues between them can arise. Additionally, in some cases, “gifted” students are forced to only focus on academics instead of their social lives, which can greatly hinder their ability to make friends or fit into social groups.


How to Improve the “Gifted” Divide


The future of education depends on how we act now; especially when it comes to the huge differences in education for gifted vs. non-gifted students. The education system should focus on academic equality, and ensuring every student gets the same quality education, and equal opportunities regardless of test scores. Working on ensuring that classrooms are not divisive and pressuring, but instead inclusive and focused on providing comfortable learning opportunities for all students. There should still be different levels of education for those with opposite educational abilities, but not so far that it begins to negatively impact health, wellness, and the ability to interact and socialize.


What Can We Do?


Now that this issue is becoming much more publicized, there is large access of resources out there for gifted students to help identify faults in their education, and learn skills to help them progress in the future. If you see this within your own school district, you can act locally by attending school board meetings or contacting administrators to call attention to this issue. Calling attention by simply educating others can be very effective; spreading your thoughts can create impacts not only in others’ thinking but possibly for the future of all education.


Research Coordinator - Kelsey

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