Because life is a series of edits

On Being “Gifted”

In Parents, Pedagogy, Students, Veritas on February 18, 2013 at 9:48 am

Gifted

Whenever
parents describe their student as "highly gifted" (either because the
student has been identified as such by a school or because his parents
just think he is), their field of vision for that student's overall
development can narrow
tremendously, with the student's gifting (rather than his person)
becoming the lens through which all decisions (academic or otherwise)
get made.


The
same thing often happens if/when a student is particularly talented in a
sport or other extracurricular – that activity can become the prime
driver for all else at all costs, a mentality often reinforced by the
well-meaning words of coaches and instructors who understandably (at
least for their activity) demand this kind of narrow commitment.


At
Veritas, one of our goals as a school is to help students (and their
families) remember that they are not their gifts, academically or otherwise.
Yes, while our school is (and is considered) an educational institution
primarily, our vision for that education is a broad – not a narrow – one
in the tradition of a what a true classical liberal arts education is
and should be.


Make
no mistake, none of us (myself included) is perfect in our pursuit of
this kind of education as we're all more influenced by our culture's
call to "specialize or else" to get ahead, but if we rightly understand
classical Christian education, this is what we desire (or should).


To
that end, we offer a few electives (and plan to offer more), but they
aren't random ones just for the sake of offering them; they serve our
broader (not narrower) goal of exposing (not focusing) students in their
study of the world (our 9th grade Aesthetics course comes to mind). For instance, we provide training in faith defense and evangelism, just not in a
decontextualized or isolated "how-to" course (talk to my eighth graders
about what we just covered in Acts 17 in New Testament class).


Our
goal for Kindergarten is not to help students "get a jump on the
system" with an over-programmed, hyper-workload curriculum; rather, in
the context of whole of our trivium education (grammar, logic,
rhetoric), we want to establish and develop basic foundations of order,
discipline, and relational skills upon which each grade can build. We
will never have what some may desire to be a "rigorous" Kindergarten
curriculum because that's not what the whole of the child needs at that
stage.


All
that to say, in answer to the question of whether Veritas (and soon The
Academy
) will challenge and engage "gifted" kids in the upper grades, I believe
we do, can, and will, but defining what the ultimate purpose for that
challenge is is the better question. If it's to help students
Christianly grow in their humanity through God's Word doing His work in
His world (which includes the challenging glories of mathematics,
science, literature, history, theology, etc.), then I think we might fit
the bill.

If the goal is purely academic for the purpose of "getting
ahead" in whatever system they're wanting to beat, then I would
encourage parents to look elsewhere.

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  1. Agree completely. No one should be pushing their children merely to get ahead. And in no way should Kindergarten involve a hyper-workload. However, I do believe gifts come from God, whether it be the gift of being a fast learner or the gift of being able to toss a football like nobody else. As parents and adult Christians, we have a responsibility to nurture that gift for the glory of God. I, for one, am thankful that Gabby Douglas’ mom committed to nurturing Gabby’s talent.

  2. Yes, Ladonna, I would agree that parents are called to be stewards of whatever God has given (though I would make a distinction between “gifts” (as found in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4) and “abilities” (which are more what we’re talking about here). All, of course, are God-given and to be enjoyed and developed.
    Indeed, I’m happy for Douglas and her victories, but only hope that what was sacrificed of her childhood to achieve them is not unrecoverable in her remaining 60-80 years. There’s a lot of life still to live after winning gold at the Olympics.
    Thanks for your comment.

  3. Ah, but without her gold medal, she would not have the platform for sharing her Christianity that she now enjoys. I think God has a plan for Gabby, and the gold medal was one step in that plan. I hope she follows through as an adult.
    Did she sacrifice her childhood? I don’t know as I believe that is a personal perspective that only she can answer. I can’t overlay my values on her as I’ve never had the kind of talent, ability, or drive that she was given.

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