A Student’s Cartoon Shows How Gifted Kids Can Fit Together

Alex, one of my former high school students, sent me this piece she designed for a graphic memoir writing course in college. It describes how it felt to be her in school, and how she came to find herself through the acceptance of others in the TAG (Talented and Gifted) Lunch Group.

I’ve been told many times over the years that the TAG Discussion Group has helped students meet others like themselves. For many students it’s the link that keeps them connected in school. Some students have told me they never had a friend until they met people in our group.

Over the past thirteen years, I have had the pleasure of facilitating these groups, which focus on the affective aspects of giftedness. These are places where gifted kids get together to talk about issues they have in common and how life looks and feels through the lens of giftedness. Groups like this are facilitated by adult leaders who are knowledgeable about giftedness.

Certainly, the most crucial school-based support for gifted students is an appropriate educational fit that differentiates instruction for students’ abilities and needs. This promotes a student’s academic development. Also crucial are discussion groups as a school-based intervention for gifted students. Discussion groups promote a student’s affective development. If we truly want our students to become well balanced, we need to offer both appropriate academic opportunities for growth and social and emotional opportunities for growth.

Why do gifted students need their own discussion group? According to Linda Silverman, “Gifted people not only think differently, they feel differently, too.” A discussion group with others who share similar characteristics such as intensity, sensitivity, heightened moral and ethical codes of behavior and the ability to process feelings more thoroughly and deeply, allow the students the opportunity to express themselves as they truly are. If nurtured properly, a level of trust and respect surfaces which encourages the facilitation of purposeful self-exploration and meaningful discussions.

Having a discussion with a grouping of gifted students allows for conversation that is at a different level of being and perceiving. Because gifted children think and feel differently, they benefit most from conversing with others who think and feel similarly.

Also valuable in these TAG Lunch Groups are the well-placed use of story books, which deftly describe characters in social and personal situations that students can relate to… even high school students.

Story books take adolescents and teens back to a time when life was easier, and less stressful. They describe the feelings they currently have, through the use of characters, which allows them to process their feelings by externalizing them.

Discussion groups give students the chance to explore self-discovery in a safe, trusting environment. I have this saying on my web site “It’s easier to build children than to repair adults.” The anonymous quote is why I so firmly believe in the value of discussion groups for gifted kids.

Thank you, Alex, for sending me your cartoon which so beautifully explains how it feels to be you. Just like story books, it is often easier to understand others when we strip away the pretense and focus on the simplicity of what is authentic.

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