image: Gary Larsen, Far Side, School for the Gifted via activehappiness.com
Having worked in a gifted school, the students were indeed gifted, and many more gifted than others, including me, but common sense was not always a stand out quality.
There were kids who would happily sit in a maths class all day and do maths endlessly, they and their teacher sort of got off on the whole mathematical experience, and I did admire them especially when I thought of the idea of maths all day up there with going to the dentist.
What I learned about the gifted was that despite their giftedness they were still people, they suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune just like anyone else. And probably they dealt with depression more than others. I say that as they did deal with a lot of expectation from family especially. A child who in primary school is top of the class and king of the kids some to a gifted school and discovered they are struggling to hold their head above water in the competitive world of the gifted school.
In the senior years, it became for many a very trying time. Their own expectations were great, and that alone crippled so many. Students I knew were incredibly smart fell to pieces when confronted with the demands of a final year exam and the looming years of tertiary study.
One girl who was very intelligent, sporty and a high achiever developed an eating disorder in the senior school such that she ended up being hospitalised. To get her through her school we basically nursed her along from limited hours at school to not allowing her to do assessments. It was extremely trying for all concerned, but she was lucky to be able to gain so much support which in the end helped her get through.
None of this is very humourous, is it?
Well at one stage of my teaching I ran drama workshops of a Saturday morning for my students in the lead up to their end of year performance exams.
As the exam time approached the anxiety of students grew and they demanded more and more of my time.
One group had planned to attend a morning workshop as they needed a lot of work on their performance piece. One girl turned up, drunk from the night before. She came into the drama studio and arranged herself in the corner and fell asleep. The rest of the group stood around anger mounting over this one girl not being able to work with them.
In the end, she woke up, was a very apologetic drunk, as some are, and I suggested, or rather said it would be best if she went home. So parents were rung, the child propped up, still apologising to anyone who might listen and by this stage there wasn’t anything to say apart from the humour of it all, and as she left the studio we had one of those moments where you know disaster is about to occur, but you are unable to prevent it. Sure enough up came the night and morning before…..my studio was never the same again…