Students react to Silverman’s 100 Words Of Widsom

I asked students in my high school GT discussion group to react to this statement:

“Giftedness is not what you do or how hard you work. It is who you are. You think differently. You experience life intensely. You care about injustice. You seek meaning. You appreciate and strive for the exquisite. You are painfully sensitive. You are extremely complex. You cherish integrity. Your truth-telling has gotten you in trouble. Should 98% of the population find you odd, seek the company of those who love you just the way you are. You are not broken. You do not need to be fixed. You are utterly fascinating. Trust yourself!”

This statement is titled 100 Words Of Wisdom by Dr. Linda Silverman, founder and Director of the Gifted Development Center in Colorado.

Here is a sampling of some of my gifted high school students’ reaction to Dr. Silverman’s thought-provoking piece:

  • I completely agree with this, especially the part about “you are not broken.” In elementary and middle school I was always that weird kid and no one understood me just cause I was GT. Even my mom doesn’t get it, particularly for her, it’s the intensity she doesn’t get.
  • “You are not broken. You do not need to be fixed.” This person is my new best friend. So many people treat GT kids like we’re from a different planet or something. We’re still people, even though we think and feel differently from the average population
  • This person is very nice. I like her beliefs that people should like themselves as they are and don’t need to be fixed. Having said that, I personally feel a bit uncomfortable being told I’m different or special somehow. I just prefer to think of everyone as special in their own way. I do understand the integrity honesty thing ~ A job interview where I told the personal something that probably didn’t get me the job… oops.
  • I feel like I’m COMPLETELY complex, even more so than “extremely” complex.
  • Something is bothering me about this statement but I can’t put my finger on it. Maybe there isn’t anything wrong, and it’s my nature to fight back.”
  • “You experience life intensely”. Everything is passion. What am I doing with my life? What is the point of life? What do I want to do in my life? What makes me special? Most people think I’m weird and nobody really likes me, sometimes not even my GT group. GT kids are super passionate about everything because we care about everything deeply. A lot of kids not identified as GT might be because the system is more about academics and the tests are academic. The determination should be more how she describes it and less like the first sentence.
  • True, yet lacking. I feel no one is gifted. Everyone has something to work for. You might be good at something but there is no such thing as gifted.
  • Someone smart wrote this paragraph. It describes me… definitely.
  • Does nature vs. nurture have anything to do with giftedness? Does the “different way of thinking” classify as giftedness if some negative trauma has impacted your life and thought? For instance, are “battered women” gifted because the abuse inflicted upon them has caused them to think in a different way?”
  • It’s not only truth-telling that gets us in trouble – it’s truth doing too.
  • 98%? More like 100%! This describes meeeee! I agree!
  • Though we are different from a lot of people, we don’t have to care or worry because the people who do love us for us are the ones worth caring for and keeping.
  • My first reaction was that everything that was said is 100% true for me. For the part of experiencing life intensely, I tend to be really emotional about things that others aren’t. The most obvious thing is books. They make me extremely happy or sad to the point that people think I am over-reacting.

I always find such a variety of opinions when I offer something for my students to reflect on. Linda Silverman is known to say that “there is more diversity in the gifted population than in the general population.” Even when they agree about a statement, they relate to it in very different ways. It’s not important that they all find agreement on a statement or opinion. What’s important is that they are engaged in conversation where they can express their feelings.

Remember that what they think matters. Create an environment where gifted students can come together on a regular basis to discuss their feelings, and to become more self, and other, aware.

I look forward to my weekly discussions with GT high school students because I can never predict what they’ll say, or where the conversation will go. The unpredictability and spontaneity of their thoughts brings richness to the short time during the busy school day that we have together.

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