Frozen gifts

So, on New Year’s Eve, the kids and I drove all the way out to Creston, IA to watch Frozen with my husband. It’s about the beautiful princess Elsa who has the weird (and somewhat useless) power to freeze things. Once I got over that, I enjoyed the movie. And the poor princess locked away in her room as her powers grew got me thinking about how we treat giftedness in this country.

giftedness

Sheer numbers alone force teachers to “teach to the middle.” Students who perform significantly above or below average are difficult to deal with in the classroom environment. Thanks to testing requirements, there are a number of services available to lower performing students. And while gifted and talented programs available at many schools may provide some much needed enrichment, gifted students often have a difficult time fitting in.

Some eventually drop out.

But then, you don’t even need to be gifted to feel locked away in a classroom. I have nothing against the idea of public school. I went to public school. I did well. I went on to become a public school teacher. But it seems that over the years, school has been taking over more and more of our children’s lives. There is increasing pressure to increase instructional time through lengthened school days and more of them. Recess is being taken away. More focus is being put on math and reading in the early grades to the detriment of everything else. And to prepare for the all important testing, more and more homework is being handed out.

And I wonder how much time the average student has to really notice the world around them. To explore. To think. To daydream. To get bored enough to come up with something to do . . . and to start recognizing his own interests and talents.

How many are frozen by the expectations of a single standardized test given to all students as a measure of academic achievement?

And it isn’t just our schools. When my daughter was in kindergarten, I joined a Christian homeschool support forum and made a comment about my daughter’s budding leadership abilities and not being sure how to direct that. A number of women jumped on the thread warning me to “nip that in the bud.” Strong girls, I learned, are a parenting challenge. Not because you have to guide them with any particular skill, but because you have to break that strength. Apparently, submission and strength are mutually exclusive concepts.

And with all the strong women of the Bible . . . and all the strong women leaders of the Bible . . . the discussion mostly left me wondering if we all read the same book.

And it left me concerned for these girls whose God-given gifts and talents were frozen by an ideology that allowed only for a very narrow view of what it meant to be a woman.

Conceal, don’t feel, never let them know . . .

How many of our children can relate to Elsa’s song? And how many will feel driven off into the cold before they can finally let it go?


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Janice Mace
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Well stated. I so agree with this.

Troy Eckhardt
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I have not seen this movie, but I understand your POV. I was publicly schooled, and was in the gifted program, and that experience greatly shaped who I am today. I also taught in public schools from 1992 until 2000. I left for several reasons, but one of the catalysts that sped up my departure was that while I was a teacher of the gifted the county dissolved all gifted programs and lumped the kids into the type of classrooms you describe in your posts. Not only that, but they gave my students to another teacher because he had seniority… Read more »
Dana
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It’s tough because so many people think that gifted students need “socialization” and opportunities to relate to their peers. But when you have so few truly gifted students, I think it is good for them to know they aren’t alone and the only ones who are “different.” They need time to explore their talents and be challenged as well. School isn’t supposed to be just about learning to get along. And as much as that is brought up as a goal for mainstreaming and against homeschooling, you would think it is the only goal of education. And as mean as… Read more »
Elsa's Song
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Let it go, Let it go Can’t hold it back anymore Let it go, Let it go Turn my back and slam the door The snow glows white on the mountain tonight Not a footprint to be seen A kingdom of isolation and it looks like I’m the queen The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside Couldn’t keep it in Heaven knows I tried Don’t let them in, don’t let them see Be the good girl you always have to be Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know Well now they know Let it go, let it go… Read more »
Jillbert
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I have mixed feelings about gifted programs. I think they work for the majority of gifted kids but there are always those that derive no benefit. My daughter (type A, headstrong girl — ha! there would have been NO way to “nip that in the bud”) thrives in hers. She is a natural leader and the program is just one more way for her to dig and and learn more — she loves it! Her closest friends come from the program and they are a teacher’s dream — involved, interested, nerdy, but delightful! But, they way she is wired, I… Read more »
Dana
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I agree. Not everyone fits in any program. Not every “regular” kid fits in a “regular” classroom. It is important that parents notice when their child is not thriving and do what they can to help their children, but there is a lot of pressure from schools to keep them enrolled in their programs, too.

I’m glad you were able to find such a good fit for your son!

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