The first time I came into contact with the concept of “gifted” I was just over thirty. One of the teachers at the preschool told me to check it out because my children, as she expressed it, were a little special and not like others, and she recommended that they start school early.
I googled and searched for facts. Found scientific articles and documents on how schools around the world work with Gifted Children. I read articles about high-intelligent people who often ended up in some kind of exclusion, bullying, truancy, depression, difficulties at work, hard to find friends and so on. Research pointed out how important it is for gifted people to get the stimulus they need to feel good at an early age.
Swedish research showed how it is for gifted children to attend school in an equal school system such as Swedish, Norwegian and Danish. The egalitarian school system often confuses the idea of everyone’s equal value and rights with the conviction that everyone should be the same. In combination with the Law of Jante, the result often becomes that those who in one way or another stand out, are forced into the norm. And if they don’t squeeze into the normal, they are punished with exclusion.
It was about me!
The evening and night after I read about gifted children I still remember. Despite the soothing breath of the man who slept next to me, I could not fall asleep. I lay on my back, my eyes followed the slits between the roof panels and the pages I read online were shown in repeat on the white-painted boards. Not word for word, but the content and some of the wordings. Brand new and intrusive thoughts about intelligence. When I closed my eyes to get rid of all I read, unpleasant memories from school time appeared and bothered. And I forgot that what I was reading was about the children. To me everything was about me. It was about me.
I slipped out of bed and tiptoed down the stairs. Cowered on the couch under a blanket and cried. Cried and looped the same thoughts over and over again.
About being gifted.
About the importance of stimulus in early age.
And about the familiar exclusion.
What I came up to during that night (except that it’s stupid to lie on your back and weep, for then you’ll get a kallsup*), were that high intelligence is the genetic rivet. In which case in Jantes Sweden. That night I decided that my children would not have to go through what I had gone through. No way.
Then you may think I started toil to enlighten the world of how gifted children function, work to make school fulfill special needs of my gifted children. But no. The logical conclusion of what I read about the situation for gifted people in Scandinavia, was that in order to have a good childhood here, you need to be normal enough. I decided to train my children to become normal!
I know. Not very smart to believe that you can change people. How can you even want to change your children? They are, as they are. Eventually, I realized that too. High intelligence can’t be disconnected. It’s there. No matter what.
Is this the first time you hear the concept of “gifted”? Or when did you hear it first? What did you think then?
*Kallsup is the Swedish word for an “involuntary gulp of cold water” which every kid playing in the sea at summertime in Sweden has experienced. “Kall” = cold. “Sup” = strong drink. You cough a lot when getting a “kallsup”.