The Ultimate Answer

In my early twenties I was sick for about three years with a debilitating problem that nobody really understood, and maybe three quarters of the world didn’t believe in. I didn’t look unwell, but I got recurrent infections and was exhausted all the time. I could marshall my forces and look normal for an hour or two here and there, but the effort cost me days of recovery time. In the early stages I spent weeks on the couch, barely able to get up and go to the loo. Then I started to get better, but quickly plateaued in a no-man’s land called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

The worst part about CFS was the disbelief. My own parents, and many others, found it impossible to believe in something that they couldn’t see, and that doctors couldn’t agree on. Fatigue is difficult to quantify, so it was much easier for my parents to assume I was doing too much, and just getting a little tired, than to face the devastating impact the condition had on my life.

I eventually recovered from CFS, but I was never quite the same. I couldn’t manage late nights, tired easily, and still got more infections than your average bear. Gradually I built up my fitness and changed my lifestyle, trying to eliminate anything that might be holding me back.

But what lingered more than anything was a severe self-doubt. Deep down I wondered if I was just a hypochondriac, or chronically lazy. Maybe I was nuts? During the darkest times I even wished I had something drastic, like cancer, if only because it was relatively well known and understood, and people might stop doubting me if I could hand them a neatly packaged diagnosis to excuse what I saw as my many failings. I felt awkward and self-conscious every time I left a party early. I felt like I needed excuses to justify who I was and how I behaved.

When what seemed like a promising new friendship collapsed after I left my friend’s party at 9:30pm, with her incredulous and disappointed response echoing in my ears, I could have screamed in frustration. Never mind whether there was actually a connection between the early departure and the end of the friendship. In my head my feeble body was getting between me and my life, and there seemed to be no valid reason for it. I felt like a failure.

Seven years ago, when I began to experience pins and needles in my hands and feet all the time, it seemed like another round of Guess The Diagnosis, and I wasn’t all that keen on playing. Although I was getting what felt like electric shocks in my feet with every step when I first got out of bed, it generally settled during the day, and was more odd than distressing. A normal brain MRI seemed to confirm that there was nothing much going on, and I stopped thinking about it. (In hindsight I should have wondered about that. What are the chances of my brain being normal?)

Then a few months ago parts of my feet started to go numb. I kept thinking I had something stuck to the bottom of my foot, because it felt as though there was some interference, something stopping my left foot from quite hitting the floor. I assumed it had to do with the toe injury I’d inflicted on myself when I ran through a doorway and missed a few years ago, until it moved to the other foot, which had a relatively good relationship with doorways and no injuries that I knew of.

The pins and needles got worse. Exhaustion became my constant companion, far more draining than I can readily account for. Random knives now stick themselves into different parts of my body, and then disappear. Sometimes my feet don’t quite clear the floor when I take a step, and today, just for something different, my fingers became weak and shaky and I started to drop things.

Working part time, kids, and life, are almost more than I can handle. Hot weather seems to make the symptoms much worse. I lose my balance occasionally. I get dizzy easily. A whole list of relatively minor complaints that seem trivial when handled individually become scary when you list them side by side.

Yet scary though it is, I almost want a disturbing diagnosis. I’m more afraid of not having an answer than of having a scary answer. More than anything I am looking for a reason to go easy on myself. To rest when I need to rest, without screaming at myself for being a useless slacker.

Yesterday I was messaging a friend about how frustrated I was feeling with myself. I was at Sorrento, and I felt I should have been making the most of being down there and going for a kayak, or at least a swim, but all I wanted to do was lie on the couch. My friend seemed nonplussed by all this self-aggression. “You’re allowed to do nothing sometimes,” he said. “You need a rest. You’re burning out. You need to go easy on yourself.”

As though I had been given a note to skip school, I immediately relaxed and did nothing for a few hours. But it started me thinking. Why do I need a diagnosis to be kind to myself? Why do I need a medical certificate to give myself permission to rest when I’m tired?

Sometimes, when people find out I have a PhD in Computer Science, they say “oooh! You must be so smart!” and I shrug ruefully and say “More stubborn than anything.” It seems I have turned this stubbornness on myself, and used it to push through and keep working, in sickness and in health, until I literally drop.

My feet still tingle to the point of pain sometimes. They go numb, I lose my balance, and I am so very, painfully tired. I have no diagnosis, although I have a specialist appointment in a few months’ time. But with or without a diagnosis, I’m going to write my own medical certificate:

To whom it may concern,

Linda McIver is suffering from extreme stubbornness. She may occasionally need to be whacked about the head with the frying pan of perspective. Until further notice she has permission to rest when she needs to without feeling the slightest bit guilty, and is under strict medical instructions to be nicer to herself.

Signed,

Dr Linda McIver, PhD.

I’m still looking for answers, but maybe first I need to work out what the question is.

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Heart strings

Grief never leaves you. Whether lapping gently at your feet or lifting you up and dumping you hard on the rocks, the waves of grief become a constant in a frighteningly inconstant world.

Sometimes I run from them, investing heavily in life in a bid to drown out the roar of death in my ears.

Sometimes I seek them out, obsessively reading about the grief of others, hoping to find the pieces of my broken heart in the words of strangers.

Sometimes they leap out at me from inside what seemed like a safe and lighthearted distraction.

There’s a lot going on in my life right now, and I am… somewhat vulnerable. So I took refuge in some timeout with William McInnes’ sweet and quirky new book, ‘Holidays’. Which was an excellent move right up until the last four pages, which picked me up and slammed me onto the rocks of grief before I knew they were even there. And then they hugged me, smoothed down my ruffled feathers and placed me gently back into my seat, where I sat, slightly stunned, with tears pouring down my cheeks.

In hindsight they were tears that have been hovering for weeks now. Tears of grief, of fear, of stress. Tears of love, of laughter, and of exhaustion. I knew they were there, but I wasn’t planning to let them out.

Caged tears, though, are as corrosive as flowing tears are cathartic. Far better to have a devious author sneak inside my heart and break open the cage without my consent than to keep trying to pretend the cage wasn’t even there.

There is a kind of camaraderie among the grieving. In McInnes’ book an acquaintance saw his grief and hugged him. I imagine it’s quite likely that this acquaintance has griefs of his own. He knew what he was seeing.

Once, when comforting friends in desperate grief, a fellow comforter looked into my eyes and said “this isn’t new to you, is it?” Grief marks you. It’s a club you never wanted to belong to but can’t possibly leave. But there’s an obscure comfort in knowing, once you’re in it, that it’s not a club of one. That others have been there, are there, and can recognise and even console your haunted heart.

I don’t know how to contact William McInnes, which is a shame, because I would like to be able to thank him. There will be other tears, and other cages, but his book spoke to me today, and they were words I needed to hear.

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How to be a superball

I was lucky enough to hear Hugh van Cuylenburg speak yesterday about resilience. Resilience is the power to recover from trauma. Hugh describes it as the ability to bounce back, but also to bounce forward. To take the setbacks of today and make them the building blocks of tomorrow. To build everything that happens in your life into a new, stronger you.

We’ve all known people who bounce like a superball regardless of the trauma life throws at them. And we’ve probably all had times in our lives when it feels as though the next straw to land on our overburdened backs will crush us irretrievably. At moments like that, resilience seems like something elusive that only other people can have. Hugh’s message is simple and potent: Resilience can be taught. It can be practiced, and strengthened, like a muscle. And it is astonishingly simple to do.

At the risk of oversimplifying several hours of compellingly personal and highly entertaining stories, backed by solid research data, it boils down to three things:

  • mindfulness
  • gratitude
  • and empathy

Most of us live our lives like a kind of electron cloud around the nucleus of the present. We are a blur of thoughts about what happened yesterday, what might happen tomorrow, and all of the things we need to do. We are having arguments in our heads with people based on what we think they might say, and building mental bastions against situations that might never arise. We are everywhere, all at once. Preparing for everything to come, rehashing everything that’s been, and adding in a whole lot of hypothetical stuff that never was and never will be. It’s exhausting.

What is she thinking?

Why didn’t he return my email?

What does he think of me?

How am I going to get through this week?

What if she won’t talk to me tomorrow?

Why did I do that?

Unlike electrons, however, we have the power to come to rest on the nucleus of our present. We can decide to focus in on this present moment. On the world around us. On how we feel. On what someone is telling us. On what is going on right now. Research shows that this ability to be mentally present has all kinds of clear, tangible, physiological as well as psychological benefits.

But like deciding to play the piano, it’s not necessarily something we can simply sit down and do, right off the bat. We need to know the right techniques, and we need to practice them. We need to get into the habit of being fully present, rather than defaulting to being that buzzing, fizzing electron cloud, and only ever noticing the present once it becomes past. The good news is that as little as 5 minutes mindfulness practice a day can help you to live in the moment.

I’ve written about mindfulness before. It was Gratitude and Empathy that really struck a chord with me yesterday. New research shows that writing down 3 good things each day – 3 things that went well, that you are grateful for – together with their causes, can make you happier, relieve depression, and effectively inoculate you against future trauma. It doesn’t mean you will never be traumatised, of course, but it helps you be that superball and bounce back and then forwards, rather than dipping down into depression.

Hugh described it in a way that made a lot of sense to me. It’s as though we all have a level of depression and anxiety. Traumatic life events drop our happiness levels down, and can drop us low enough to tip us into depression. If our depression level is high, it takes less trauma to reach that level. But if our depression level is low, higher levels of trauma will still avoid tipping us into depression. Simply being consciously grateful for 3 things each day can significantly lower that base depression level.

depression, life events, and the impact of gratitude graphed

Gratitude can lower your level of depression and prevent traumatic events from pushing you into depression.

The final point, empathy, is in some ways related to mindfulness. If you are in the moment, aware of your surroundings, you will also be aware of the people around you. It’s only a short step from there to choosing to help them. Actively helping others has been shown time and time again to increase our own happiness. From random acts of kindness to helping out when someone is in a fix, empathy is also a way of building communities, and a sense of connectedness for both helper and helpee. Even a small thing like pausing to give someone directions can materially add to your own well being. There’s just no downside.

I found the research pretty compelling, but I also know that this stuff works on a deep and personal level. I have watched mindfulness and the Thankful Thing change my family’s lives. Sure, some days we forget to do the thankful thing. Sometimes we don’t manage to sit down and make space in our lives for mindfulness. But even though we don’t do it every day, it has transformed us. It has given us coping strategies we never thought were possible before. And even though we know how much it helps, sometimes we need to be prompted to get back to it.

Hugh van Cuylenburg gave us a powerful push yesterday. You can find him on youtube and on the web if you need a push of your own.

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Damned if you don’t, gutted if you do…

I visited my mum today. It’s been a while, what with Christmas holidays and things, but the truth is I postpone seeing her. I dread it. I fear it. It makes me crazy, and it breaks my heart. So I avoid it, delay it, postpone it, find excuses not to do it, until the cascading guilt builds up to the point where I crack, and off I go down the slippery slope of horror that is dementia.

I skip and dance around the usual paranoia triggers, and we have a relatively peaceful lunch, circling around the same two conversational topics on rapid repeat, as we always do, but without any real distress. Her hearing is much worse, but other than that she seems ok.

But then I get careless. Emboldened by her unusual calm, I suggest we should dig out the family slides and photos and get them copied for safekeeping. It takes me a while to get this idea across, but eventually she agrees it’s a great idea. You can never predict what will trigger her paranoia, but it turns out that searching for photos does the trick quite spectacularly.

So I am rummaging in dust and cobwebs, coughing and spluttering, while trying to reassure her that I am not planning to steal anything, and that she will get it all back as soon as it’s copied. Around and around and around and around we go, all the while she is getting more and more anxious. Finally I find the slides and she insists she has to go through the box before I go, in case there is something valuable in there. She is almost in tears, saying she’s not giving anything away, I have to promise she will get it all back at least 15 times before we make it out the door.

That’s when it hits me like a fist in my face. She is terrified. She is trying so hard to hold on to the structure of her life, and I have just accidentally ripped up her foundations. I did something unexpected, out of the ordinary. Her boundaries, never very flexible at the best of times, are now rigid with panic and horror, as she sees her life and her mind slipping away from her. Her grip on routine is the only thing that holds her upright, and I just pushed her over the nightmare cliff.

Her memory for the past is actually improving, oddly enough. I thought it might comfort her to have some photos of the old days, when her life was calm and predictable, and she knew what was going on. But to get there we had to cross the treacherous sea, navigate the fireswamp, and battle the ROUSes(*) of fear and paranoia.

She is lonely – so lonely – but by the time I get home there’s a message on the answering machine saying she hasn’t seen me for ages, when am I coming over?

She is afraid – so very afraid – but trying to comfort her terrifies her, lest we discover there is something wrong.

She is angry – so very angry – but she can’t quite work out why. So she fixates on something. Something she has lost, or something she imagines someone has done. And denying it only enrages her further.

By the time I get home she might have forgotten it altogether, or she might be working herself into a frenzy of rage. We might be about to receive a barrage of phone calls demanding the slides back instantly, or she might never mention them again. The uncertainty is almost the worst part. Except that the screaming is the worst part. And the fear. That’s the worst part, too. Dementia is a whole morass of worst parts.

As for me, I’ve arrived home shaken, and shaking. My heart breaks for the child behind her eyes, who wants to be held and told it’s all going to be ok, except that the paranoia won’t let her admit it. My heart breaks for the fear she battles every day. Fear that she will be hurt. Fear that she will be abandoned or taken advantage of. Fear of being in the world, and fear of being left out of it. The same fear that she uses to protect herself, and to drive people away.

And my heart breaks for me. I want my mum. And she’s long gone.

(* ROUS – Rodents Of Unusual Size. If you didn’t recognise this acronym go watch The Princess Bride immediately)

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A pause to reflect

I’ve often said that by the time you finish a PhD, having spent at least 3 years immersed in a single, intense, drawn out project, all you can see is the flaws in that work. It doesn’t matter if you get glowing examiners’ reports and win awards for your work: all you know about by the end of that time is the hundreds of little ways you could have done better if you started it all again. The kind of obsessive personality who can actually finish a PhD (I’m pretty sure obsessiveness is the primary requirement for graduation) generally has a perfectionist streak approximately as wide as the infinitely expanding universe.

I’ve found that I have a similar tendency in real life. I’ve just finished a marathon year, and I’m both exhausted and a little nauseous at the thought of everything I want to achieve next year. The majority of my brain is sitting in the corner, rocking, and gibbering quietly at the thought of another year like the one just past.

Facebook puts together naff little photostreams of “the year that was” for you, collecting a moderately random set of your posts from the year into a summary of 2014. Mine seems to consist largely of animals and photos from the far distant past, for reasons I can’t quite fathom. It’s a bit pointless, except that it has prompted me to consider what my 2014 really looked like. Rather than hyperventilating at the thought of the progress I still want to make, maybe there’s something to be said for stopping to consider how far I’ve come.

For a teacher it can be hard to quantify your year, especially if you don’t have year 12s. Year 12 students provide some kind of objective measure of your teaching, because their assessment is primarily external, but even then you can say “Oh, well the students were amazing, they’d have done well whoever taught them.” Which is what I tend to do when my students achieve extraordinary things – because they are invariably extraordinary kids, and it is exceptionally difficult to measure your own impact on a class full of kids with any kind of objectivity.

So you get to the end of the year having given your job everything you’ve got, and with nothing concrete to show for it. Sure, there are the amazing things your students have done, but how much of that was your doing, and how much was theirs? It’s no wonder it’s easy to be overwhelmed by how much you still need to do, and feel ill at the thought of starting it all again next year.

But research shows that spending time writing down and contemplating the things you have to be grateful for can dramatically improve your emotional well being and resilience, and my suspicion is that writing down your achievements could be even more powerful.

So this evening we spent some time writing our own “year in review”. Rather than leave it to Facebook to pick a random selection of images from our 2014, we went through the year, month by month, and listed the things we remembered. It was very powerful doing this as a family, because we each remembered and prioritized different things, and we came up with a very full list of things to be grateful for, as well as things, like my heart problems, that we have survived and often learnt from.

I’m going to write that list in to our little book of thankful things, and maybe in the future we will look back at 2014 and smile, remembering the events and the people who made it remarkable. But even if we never look at it again, the act of pausing and reflecting on how far we have come this year is a potent and positive reminder of what we have achieved.

A friend of mine posted a beautiful message on Facebook this afternoon about how today is the solstice (winter for him in New York, summer for us in Melbourne), and that this is “the moment of stillness and change,” which I found a very powerful thought. We tend to rush through life without a moment to pause and reflect, and the solstice, together with the approach of Christmas and the New Year, provides a trigger to stop and think about where we are and how far we have come.

It was a hugely positive thing to do as a family. When was the last time you paused to reflect on your life?

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Defined by a number

A recent heartfelt post about accelerating gifted kids up a grade caused a veritable tidal wave of responses. My innocuous little blog went crazy. In the first couple of days the post had around 600 views, and then it went really wild. In less than a week that post has had over two thousand two hundred views. Ten times my usual readership.

And not only were people reading it, but they were commenting, both on the blog and on facebook. Many of the comments were along the same lines: “Thank GOODNESS somebody finally said it!” “Thank you so much! This is why our son/daughter skipped a grade, and it was the best thing we ever did! But, Man! Everyone said we were crazy!”

The posts that receive the strongest reactions always seem to be the ones where people feel unheard and misunderstood. And heaven knows there are enough myths out there about gifted kids and their education to fertilize a million mushroom farms. But what interests me most is that the few negative responses I got were all along on the one theme:

“Yes, but accelerated kids will wind up socializing with kids who are up to two years older than them.”

As though this statement is enough. Because heaven knows we wouldn’t want our children to associate with anyone who wasn’t precisely their own age. But the more I think about it, the more absurd it seems that we seem to have swallowed this assumption – hook, line, and toxic sinker.

As adults, when we meet someone we instinctively like and relate to, we don’t conduct a background check and verify their year of birth before we can allow ourselves to be friends. One of my all time closest friends was 40 years older than me. I have others who are 10, 20, even 25 years younger, and some whose age I could honestly not even begin to guess at. Because I choose my friends based on shared interests, gut feeling, and most importantly whether we get each other or not. Not based on close inspection of their birth certificates.

And it’s not just an adult thing, explained away because we have all crossed the magical 18 line. My 11 year old’s best friend is 9, and she has a close friend who is 18. When we were at a party a couple of weeks ago with a host of other families, my 7 year old bonded fast and firmly with a girl who is 10, and my 11 year old spent most of the time with a 7 year old. They did not pause to check the age of their new friends before deciding to hang out with them.

Our schools, though, are rigidly structured by age. Especially our government schools. Thou shalt not start school before 5 years of age, nor after 6. Thou shalt progress unto the next year regardless of academic readiness. Thou shalt do year 8 maths at 13 years of age, regardless of whether even year 10 work is already too easy.

Sure, kids are developing fast, and a year can make an enormous difference to social and emotional development. But in our reverence for the data that shows what the average 10 year old can do, we forget that no 10 year old is actually average. We ignore the 10 year olds who have the average maturity of an 8 year old, and likewise those with the average maturity of a teenager. We rule out the outliers, the statistical anomalies, and the kids who are more developed in one area, but less in another. We bury differences under the rug and pretend that kids relate best to other kids the same age, rather than to other kids who have shared interests and similar abilities. And we pretend that kids progress in all areas at the same rate.

People often write about the fact that schooling hasn’t changed radically in a hundred years, and pose various changes that might bring us “up to date”, but I have never yet seen a proposal that suggests kids could go in to classes according to readiness. Imagine a school where a single child could be in a year 8 English class, year 11 Maths, year 10 Science, and year 6 Music. Because that’s where she’s up to. Because that’s the level of instruction she needs. Where a boy could be doing year 12 English, year 10 German, and year 9 Maths. Where the level of work a child was given was pitched according to that child’s readiness and ability in each subject, not according to the date on her birth certificate.

As to the horror some people express about kids socialising with others who are 2 years older than them, I find that deeply puzzling. School, where kids are sorted by age, is a highly artificial construct. Out in the real world kids will be hanging out with a wide range of ages: cousins, neighbours, members of clubs. Almost no other environment is so rigidly age segregated as schools, yet we seem deeply wedded to the idea that this segregation is both normal and vital to our children’s well being.

Segregation is almost universally condemned now, in all areas but age. Perhaps it’s time to condemn it for that, too.

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Why I WILL accelerate my daughter, but won’t tell you what to do with yours

Recently I read an article by Kerri Sackville entitled “Why you shouldn’t accelerate your child“. Now, to be fair, Kerri may not have chosen the headline for the article. But the article basically followed the headline pretty closely. And it was an anecdotal “It didn’t work for us, so you shouldn’t do it” style of piece. Which is fine, as far as it goes. But it disappointed me intensely, as a teacher of many gifted students, and the parent of two gifted kids, that it did not examine the research, nor consider the reasons why acceleration might be crucial in some cases.

Because here’s the thing: Bright kids, such as Kerri describes, may indeed not be well served by acceleration. But there is a world of difference between bright and gifted. And the consequences for gifted kids of never receiving the level of work they need in order to be truly challenged and extended can be dire. Truly. Dire. Not just “a bit bored”, but clinically depressed, even suicidal level of dire.

They’re not always dire. Some gifted kids will seek out their own challenges, and possess their own miraculous internal resilience such that they will cheerfully survive being bored to bits in class. I’ve taught these kids.

But other kids will find that they can’t talk to the kids around them – in fact they are frequently bullied for being weird. And they never learn what it is to try and fail to master some challenging topic, so they learn that everything comes easily to them. This makes the eventual appearance of challenge desperately threatening and unmanageable. I’ve taught these kids, too. And I’ve parented them.

The literature is full of stories of kids who went on to be miserable, and even delinquent, because they learnt that to be them, and to achieve praise, was to do things effortlessly. That became their defining characteristic. They learnt what Carol Dweck calls a “fixed mindset”, and never learnt how to tackle things that they didn’t yet know how to do.

Sooner or later we all meet something that we don’t understand (yet). For under-extended gifted kids, this can be a huge threat, and trigger a massive panic reaction. The research shows very clearly that gifted kids have high rates of anxiety, depression, and even suicide. This doesn’t surprise me, because the other thing I know about gifted kids is that their unchallenged brains have to find something else to do. And for a highly analytical child, this can quickly turn into a spiral of “Nobody understands me, nobody gets me, I am a failure, I am worthless” that can fast become catastrophic.

This may sound extreme to those of you who have not had close contact with gifted kids, but the research clearly shows that gifted kids are emotionally intense, and consequently prone to depression. Kerri Sackville tosses off the casual comment that a good teacher will be able to extend every child in her class, and “they will no doubt achieve academically no matter what year they are in” so acceleration should not be necessary. But this is garbage. I have seen that from the teacher side. I have 25 kids in my year 11 class, and knowing exactly what every one of them needs at any point in time is a constant struggle.

When you are dealing with a huge spread of abilities at primary school level, or even at high school not every child is going to get what they need. It doesn’t matter whether you are talking about a highly resourced, well funded private school or the local state school desperately struggling for enough money to buy a computer that actually works, there are going to be lots of times when the whole class is doing the same worksheet – because there is a physical limit to how much effort a teacher can put in, and in my experience most teachers, especially the good ones, are at the edge of that limit every single day, and still not doing things the way they think they should be done.

The point of acceleration for a gifted child is that it narrows the gap between the average classroom activity, and the work that child needs in order to be challenged. A gifted education conference I attended last year made what, for me, was a profoundly compelling point: Every child deserves to make a year’s progress for a year’s schooling.

All too often gifted kids are making progress in becoming depressed, but not much else.

Sackville also claims that teenage kids are so different socially that a 14 year old going to parties with 16 year olds is a world of horror, and here I have to argue that EVERY CHILD IS DIFFERENT. I’d tattoo that on my forehead if I thought it would help. Some 14 year olds will be fine at 16 year old parties. Some 16 year olds won’t. And 16 year old parties might be slumber parties with harmless videos or wild drunken sex fests. Every child, and every party, is different. But what I do know is that gifted kids frequently relate much better, and more easily, to older children, than they do to their chronological peer group. Place a gifted kid in his or her own year level and it quickly becomes clear that nobody gets them, which can lead to a demoralizing isolation. But if you shift them up a little, you narrow the gap between them and their peers. They are more likely to be reading the same books, playing the same games, and speaking the same language.

I’ve had my students tell me they spent their first few years of high school playing games, reading the following years’ textbook in the back of the classroom, or wreaking havoc, because they simply couldn’t see the point of school. These kids are beyond bright. They are gifted, and they have particular needs.

So I won’t place myself in opposition to Sackville’s article and say “You MUST accelerate bright kids.” Some kids need acceleration, some don’t. But I will declare that what you must do, beyond all doubt, is what you believe is right for your child. Not what a random, unqualified writer says didn’t work for her and therefore will not work for you. Not what a teacher, or a psychologist says is right, when you believe it’s wrong for your child. And certainly not what I believe is right for my kids. But what you, after careful research and deep consideration of all the available options, believe is right for your child.

(Interesting further reading, including reports on outcomes for gifted kids who were accelerated vs those who weren’t: http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/04/what-do-we-risk-losing-by-not-challenging-gifted-kids/)

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