Friday, May 23, 2008

Intellectual Giftedness...

My daughter is "intellectually gifted". As much as I don't particularly like how that term sounds and what it implies (or not!), it is what the school board uses, so I digress. Every year at this time, since she has been "identified" (another term I don't quite warm up to!), we are faced with the choice of keeping our daughter in her home school with moderate curriculum enrichment or sending her off to the full-time gifted programme at another location. So far, we have made the choice to keep her at the home school as we have not seen a reason compelling enough to do otherwise. However, this coming September the full-time gifted programme is being moved to a new location. There was an open house at the school this morning which hubby, myself and our daughter attended. As you can already tell, that is why I'm blogging!

Aside from the new location (which has better facilities than the one before), there is also a new "Gifted Facilitator" from the school board. He is a great communicator and is very convincing! He sells the full-time gifted programme quite well, I must say. But, upon coming out of the open house, despite being impressed by the facilities and the facilitator's enthusiasm, my gut feeling still leaned towards keep my daughter at her home school at least for another year.

Every year, I agonize about this decision. Every year, God provides me with a clear answer. Isn't He awesome? This year, it was through Beth Moore's blog, The LPM Blog. A few days ago, she blogged about intellectual giftedness in children and it hit the right spot in my heart --- the words on the screen expressed what was exactly in my heart and on my mind; thoughts that I was having trouble putting into words! The complete blog entry is here --- entitled "Something's Got Me Thinking" --- but I will quote the few paragraphs that really grabbed me:

"I happened on an article that was not only well written. It was one of the most thought provoking secular articles I’ve read in a good while. (“More” - May 2008 Issue, p.90).

In the article entitled “My So-Called Genius” author Laura Fraser recounts her remarkable journey from whiz-kid-dom to an adulthood of unmet expectations and fairly ordinary life. Don’t let my crude synopsis keep you from reading the article for yourself because I won’t do it justice. I’d like to recap enough, however, to explain why I found it significant. By the time she was five she’d already been labeled “precocious” and told repeatedly how special she was. The next years did not disappoint. She was brilliant and darling and surpassed her peers impressively, drawing the attention of adults who conveyed to her in a myriad of ways that she was destined for greatness. Then came college where she entered an academic world of peers who, not coincidentally, were told the same thing. By her late forties, she’d accomplished many good things but the expectation of greatness and the sense that she’d never quite achieved it (despite a best seller) haunted her with feelings of failure. All the well-meaning forecasts had done nothing but cast a pall of perfectionism upon her and, as her consultant so aptly pointed out, "Perfectionists always lose.” The consultant confronted her with a very important challenge that I’ll paraphrase: “Must you write a great book? How about writing a good book?” Fraser describes how age and time had become precious gifts and how she’d come to reconcile the unreasonable expectations with her reasonable success.

In doing so she really made me think about some things. Here are a few: How careful we need to be – as parents, teachers, relatives, leaders, or observers – about telling gifted children how great they are going to be. It is a trap and a forecast Fraser claims rarely pans out. She points out the monumental difference between talent and having a clue what to do with it and (again paraphrasing) how genius rarely exempts people from having to work hard just like everybody else who wants to make it. I’m a big believer in encouraging young people and imitating the Apostle Paul with Timothy by telling them that they are extraordinarily gifted. BUT, as we learned this weekend in Boise, every gift is a trust placed in human hands by a holy God and it is up to each individual to develop the integrity, humility, and work-ethic to know what on earth to do with it. A gift never guarantees success. In the long run as well as the routine day-in and day-out, those with the grit to just keep doing the hard thing will often prove more effective. Gift without grit is a dang waste.

How profoundly wise God’s way is. If we’re willing to follow His paradoxical path on the winding roadmap of Scripture, we have the joy of side-stepping this ankle-breaking trap. So will a few children we’re privileged to train. Living just to be great will prove at least empty and at most unbearable. Spending ourselves for something infinitely greater, however, still fans our parched souls with the God-given need to matter, but relieves us of the relentless pain of being the “It” Person at the center of it. To live for the greatness of God IS to live the great life. Oh, I know we’ve heard it before but what if something in us clicked all the sudden? What if we all at once awakened to what a dream-killer perfectionism is? And to how pitifully small and unworthy a goal personal greatness is? We were meant for so much more. Every one of us who embraces the glory of God as our lofty purpose for living will end up doing great things precisely because we end up doing God-things. His holy hand rested on the least act renders the ordinary extraordinary. Far from the least but sadly uncelebrated, spooning soup into the mouth of the weak and bed-bound or manning the church nursery so a tired mom can go to Sunday School are acts of highest worship when offered in the Name of Christ. Though the arrogant and ignorant minimize and miss it, Christ beholds the sight like a breathtaking work of art, tilting His head and squinting His eyes to study each subtle detail. “She has done a beautiful thing to me” (Mark 14:6).

Christ, the very One who called us to abundant, effective life and commanded us to splash in the cool springs of joy while living it, announced the secret to the great life without a hint of contradiction: Pour it out lavishly, sacrificially for the glory of God and the good of man. Those with presence of mind and semblance of health are called to pour out the drink offering of their lives until the cup is turned completely over and every last drop of energy slips - perhaps unnoticed, uncelebrated – into the vast ocean of earthly need. The last imperceptible drop of your well-lived life will sound like a tidal wave hitting the floor of the Grand Canyon to the hosts of Heaven. “I’m already great enough for both of us,” Christ says in effect, relieving the willing of their woeful burden. “Just follow Me.” For “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45)."

Wow! Just the words of wisdom that I needed. Bottom line is that I feel there is still a lot that my daughter needs to learn in terms of fully embracing the Christian worldview. Hubby and I both feel that keeping her at the home school for at least one more year would provide us with more opportunities to "complete" that training before she "spreads her wings"!

It is truly amazing when God provides an answer. My hubby often says he wishes that God would send him an email --- I say that God speaking through Beth Moore's blog entry is pretty close to that!

"Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need."
---Matthew 6:33 (NLT)

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