Gifted, talented label has negative, long term effects

The Orator Staff

Getting selected as one of the kids who are gifted and talented is like being wrapped in an artificial safety net. It’s a sigh of relief for most parents because their kid is smart and will go far, right? Wrong. Being put into gifted and talented programs stamps kids with the unforgiving illusion that everything will come easily to them.

Kids in these programs learn new things quickly. They almost never face the struggle of encountering new lessons they don’t understand, but according to Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, kids need struggle to build stronger and deeper neural connections that will help them become more determined, resilient and confident when they face hardships.

Therefore, gifted and talented programs set kids up for failure because when they struggle to understand something, they end up trying to avoid it rather than tackle the task.

A member of the Orator staff was placed in the gifted program in third grade, everything came easy to her until she hit high school. That’s when reality slapped her in the face. She realized what struggle was for the first time. She found herself crying nightly because in her math class, her classmates got the material and she didn’t.

She refused to ask for help because she was smart and asking questions would mean she was dumb. The gifted program set her up for failure and she’s not alone. It didn’t teach her to persevere when things get hard. Instead, now when things come crashing down on her she shuts down instead of working harder.

Another staffer that was “gifted” encountered the same. She has found herself spending multiple days stuck on one insignificant part of an assignment because she didn’t understand, rather than just asking for help. She’s encountered many instances on quizzes and tests where she would simply guess on a problem instead of reaching out to get clarification—all to avoid the stamina of being the “dumb” kid who asks questions. After all, she was gifted and should know everything, right?

Gifted programs push the idea of perfection or nothing at all, never doing anything less than A work because if it’s not an A why even bother turning it in? According to the National Association of Gifted Children 20 percent of gifted children suffer from perfectionism to the degree it causes problems, making gifted and talented programs a major problem that need to be restructured.