The Gifted Kids
After constant hours of wracking my brain, I have finally come up with an idea for a blog post. This seems to be an ongoing writing trend for me… Oh well.
As some of you know, I was in PEAK (gifted) classes as a kid. I joined advanced classes as early as kindergarten, when I was sent to a first grade class once a week. At the end of first grade, I took a really long test. I don’t remember much about it. There was a weird part with blocks that had triangles on it and I had to make shapes and describe them. None of it made any sense, but apparently I did well. A couple weeks later, I got a little card that had a red-eyed tree frog on it. The card said that I had a high IQ and that I could be classified as gifted.
PEAK classes were a whole new concept, and it was something I greatly appreciated. To this day, I still don’t know what PEAK stands for, but it doesn’t matter. Once a week, all of the gifted kids would go to a different classroom in the school and work with other kids that thought the same way as us. A couple years later, we started taking a bus to another school and having class there. We learned about inventors, different countries, and new ways to learn and solve problems. It really has helped shape the person I am today.
While I am grateful for the PEAK program, I was only there once a week. The other days, I was with my normal class. I breezed through them, no problem at all. I had no issues learning anything, because I already knew some of it! I finished my tests before everyone, got 100% on every worksheet, and could practically teach the class.
Everything changed when I got to middle school. When you’re in elementary school, you have one teacher for every class. You sit in the same spot everyday. When you hit middle school, you have 8 classes with 8 different teachers (sometimes). I surprisingly can remember my 6th grade schedule (the core classes)
- Gifted ELA with Mrs. Laffoon
- Social Studies with Mrs. Fazzino
- Gifted Science with Mrs. LaPlant
- Gifted Math with Mrs. Laffoon
This is where everything changed. The classes became a million times harder. I suddenly had no idea what I was doing, and I didn’t know what to do about it. I wasn’t used to this feeling of confusion or lack of knowledge. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I would get a worksheet I didn’t know how to do, and I would just sit there and stare at it. I would cry and have a mental breakdown. If I’m being honest, this still happens, but that’s beside the point.
One of the things PEAK never taught me was how to study, how to learn things I didn’t already know, and how to deal with that feeling of not understanding. That’s where my problem was. Don’t get me wrong, I loved PEAK and it has really helped me with many other things (JETGB!), but this is the one thing I was never prepared for.
It’s a daily thing now. My current schedule is full of very difficult classes. Advanced ELA 10, Honors Theoretical Chemistry, Advanced Algebra II, and AP World History. It’s absolutely killing me. Out of all of those classes, I don’t think I fully understand a single one of them. I sit there and feel stupid for 45 minutes, 4 times a day. Mental breakdowns are a normal occurrence. Tears have become equivalent to the ink of my pen on all my papers. All of the kids who envied me and my gifted classes in elementary school are suddenly getting better grades than me. They’re suddenly understand everything and pick up on things faster than I do.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not mad at them for that or anything. I’m frustrated. I’m frustrated with myself. I’m frustrated with the fact that I never learned how to deal with not understanding. I’m frustrated with the fact that I never learned how to deal with failure. I’m frustrated that I never learned how to do things I didn’t already know how to do.
Moral of the story? PEAK classes are crazy important. But it’s also crazy important to make sure people understand how to study. It’s important that they learn how how to deal with failure. It’s important that they know what to do when they don’t know.
IT’S IMPORTANT THAT YOU KNOW THIS — In my opinion, intelligence should never ever be a factor of your opinion of someone. What matters is their personality. Look for compassion and be compassionate. To quote my wonderful editor in chief, Hannah Leonard, “EVERYBODY LOVE EVERYBODY!”
“What makes a child gifted and talented may not always be good grades in school, but a different way of looking at the world and learning,” Chuck Grassley