American school system
just so you know, the ‘gifted area’ isn’t much fun either
I saw your tags and I would really like to comment with personal story if you don’t mind.
The gifted area really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The children all look like they’re smiling, sure, but let’s be real— they go home and stress and cry.
I was a “gifted and talented” kid, and it was far from this. My whole life, things were harder because I was expected to be better. I was expected to be reading higher-level books, but the school didn’t allow me to read higher-level books because it was “unfair” to the other students. Teachers subconsciously graded me harder than other students, even on things I was not “gifted” in, like math (a subject in which I have always struggled). We had extra homework and extra tests. In my program, we were removed from regular classes once a week to learn bonus material. Not only were we expected to learn the bonus material, but we were expected to make up the missed material and pass the tests on it; only no one was there to teach us the material we missed, because we were expected to already know it. It was pounded into my brain every day of my life from the moment I started school that I had to be perfect, and if I wasn’t perfect it was the result of some character flaw. If an average student got a B, it was cause for celebration, but if I got an A I was simply meeting expectations. If an average student got a D, it was sad and they needed extra help and it was the teachers fault for not helping them; if I got a B or a C, it was the end of the world and clearly there was something wrong with me. I was slacking, or goofing off, or expecting the teachers to just “hand” the A to me because I was “special”.
I skipped a grade because I was “gifted.” When I tell people of this, they assume I must be a “genius.” You don’t know how many times I’ve heard people tell me, “Wow, you must be really smart or something. You’re a genius.”
Fast forward to college. I was told I should go to Yale or Harvard. But I didn’t want to. I wanted to go to college somewhere where I could learn but also enjoy myself. People make fun of me for my choice of school because someone as “gifted” as me could have “done so much better.”
This “genius” can’t pass Intro to Biology 1010, because no one ever taught her proper studying techniques—they just assumed she already knew. This “genius” cries herself to sleep over a B in an difficult science class. This genius faces crippling anxiety because she knows she’ll never measure up to people’s expectations of her. This “genius” sometimes cuts herself because the pressure to be perfect is too much for her. This “genius” feels like throwing herself off a building if she gets anything less than a B, because she’s been taught her whole life that if she doesn’t get perfect grades it is some sort of character flaw; she must be a worthless idiot.
I don’t know what it’s like to be in the “Nothing Special” area but being gifted is no walk in the park as the cartoon suggests. We both face challenges; they are different challenges, but they are both challenges.
This is so accurate.