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Bullying the Gifted by Jessica Reyka

Bullying and the Gifted: Welcome Back to School?  based on the following article:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/gifted-ed-guru/201208/bullying-and-the-gifted-welcome-back-school

 

Many gifted students have worries about going back to school due to the fact that they feel as though they don’t “belong” or fit in with their peers. Due to the idea that they portray themselves as a student in isolation compared to their classmates, many of their classmates treat them as though they are “freaks of nature” and the bullying begins.

Some things that cause the gifted students to be bullied by their peers are:

1)     They are academically advanced compared to the other kids the same age

2)     More emotionally sensitive about what is right and wrong and appear to be perfectionists

3)     Have a higher level of sense of humor that their peers do not understand, so therefore jokes are out of the question.

There are things that parents of gifted children should do in order to make their child feel more comfortable at school such as: listening to their concerns about school, educate your child on the reasons why he/she is gifted so they understand it is not a bad thing, relate the situation to times in your own life so they do not feel alone and give them examples on how to deal with the bullying in a kind manner. It is very important for the parents of these students who are being bullied to protected their children and seek help from the school (teachers, counselors, etc…) to end this terrible act.

4 comments to Bullying the Gifted by Jessica Reyka

  • Michael Parker

    I must say that after having read this brief article, I received a sense of clarity; a sort of auspicious moment for myself.

    @sgerard–You make a compelling point concerning the “bell curve” and the ability of schools to provide that which is needed to accommodate proper learning experiences for their gifted students. One aspect that may inhibit such is that these programs (charter schools the like) require certain demographic ratios, [slightly] irrespective of “giftedness”. While diversity plays an integral part in ones development, there may be a lack of “a certain reciprocity” that is genuine between two gifted individuals (facilitating bullying).

    @sdehaven–your experience with being a “smarty pants” highlights the point I was trying to make concerning “a certain reciprocity”. I, too, wanted to share my personal experience with being in “gifted and talented” (GT; Texas public schools; grades 1-6) because I realized what was at the root of my experienced “adversity”.

    In the article it is explained that gifted students will often correct their peers during scholarly pursuits. In retrospect, I have realized that I was (and still am) guilty of correcting my peers. The issue is that people misinterpret the “intentions” behind this behavior. I (implicitly at such an age) intended to correct my peers because I (and still do to this day; explicity) wanted to be corrected when I was wrong. However, that “certain reciprocity” may not always exist, and peers may misinterpret this behavior as “poking fun at” or “highlighting his/her weaknesses” instead of correctly interpreting it as a genuinely continuous pursuit of growth and self-actualization. Peers then may “lash out” and explicitly poke fun at the gifted individual. Two gifted individuals “on the same wavelength” understand (implicitly at a young age and explicitly into adulthood) the true intention of correcting each other; not for poking fun, but for being explicitly aware of that which can be made better. Back then I didn’t understand what it was or why negative encounters kept occurring (through high school and still today) no matter how I would modify my own behaviors to adapt. After reading this article, however, I feel that I have “seen the bigger picture” for what I know to be true in my own life, my own experiences.

    As far as the three points that cause the gifted students to be bullied by their peers:

    1) They are academically advanced compared to the other kids the same age: I don’t feel they are necessarily more “advanced”; rather, they believe in understanding their weaknesses so they may grow exponentially in academia and other aspects of life (self-actualization).

    2) More emotionally sensitive about what is right and wrong and appear to be perfectionists: I think they are more likely to admit when they are right AND wrong (because of the need for continuous growth; “perfectionists”) and, therefore, are more likely to identify both in themselves and others what is right and wrong.

    3) Have a higher level of sense of humor that their peers do not understand, so therefore jokes are out of the question: They don’t necessarily find “toilet humor” to be funny (at least not all the time). Philosophical or scholarly jokes (like in the show “Big Bang Theory” for example) is more of their forté.

  • sgerard

    Great article! I think it is really important to understand that being gifted, or in the top 2% of population, comes with a set of characteristics that can often complicate life. Similarly, being in the bottom 2% of the population warrants accomadations to ensure maximum potential for an individual is met, the same standard should be applied to the top 2%.

    We have all seen the bell curve and are familiar with a standard distribution. Our world, including our schools systems, are typically set up to accomadate the majority of the population, the 50% percentile. To be identified for gifted, one must score 2 standard deviations above the norm, or 130 and above, in order to receive services in the school system to accomadate their “giftedness.” However, each school district has its own set of criteria to determine qualification for gifted. The uniqueness of each gifted child presents differently. That being said, it is easy for a gifted child to be excluded from resources that would allow the right environment to thrive with understanding, leaving them more vulnerable to bullying as mentioned in the article.

    Research shows that gifted students thrive in classrooms that are centered around their potential, with like minded peers and certified gifted teachers. As we talked about in our last meeting, they operate on the same “wave length.”

  • sdehaven

    Jessica, what a great article to kick of the semester! I feel that this article truly pinpoints some really great issues with gifted children in a classic classroom setting. I’ve always been a firm believer that education starts in the home and the constant affirmation and discipline nurtures growth and continual learning. The involvement of the parent is a crucial role and taking that time to listen to your children and reach out for their needs are an important investment of their time for their children. I applaud the writer for encouraging parents to be the “squeaky wheel” for their children in matters of education; parents are the voice for their children when their children have no voice. It is also important that parents relate to their children and in turn help their children relate to others students; in turn it creates a learning curve.

    I truly was touched and felt a connection when I was reading the section about the teacher breaking the students into small groups so that they could interact and get to know each other. I remember when I first began middle school, already a trying time in most preteens’ lives; I was in a new school and knew no one. In addition, it was a small private school and many kids had already formed friendships with each other and it had already caused an initial “alone” feeling. I formerly had gone to a local elementary school that continually ranked in the top schools in the area and the state and prided themselves and their students on advanced education. On that first fateful day of sixth grade my math teacher told us she was going to gives us a sheet of problems and we only had a minute or two to complete as many problems as possible(she was using it as a gauge for where the class stood). I remember that I almost finished all the problems but a few; however, most of the class only got about half of the problems completed. I was beaming with excitement and so was my teacher but I soon learned that some of my other classmates thought I was “showing off”, being a “teacher’s pet”, a “smarty pants”, etc. At such a young impressionable age it was difficult to deal with and without the love and support of my parents and teachers I couldn’t imagine how much harder it would have been. Over the years, I continually pursued the desire to be the best I could be and reach for higher and higher goals and in time I found others who also shared the same pursuit for continual growth.

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