Thursday, March 12, 2009


How that word holds so much meaning. It's a good label, right? Or is it. Is any label good? If your child is labelled autistic, learning delayed, gifted, short, smart, fat, athletic, artistic, musical, troublesome, ADHD, it changes how they feel about themselves. So my story goes....A good friend has a super cute fairly precocious boy, who is now 10. At 3 or 4 my friend was convinced he was gifted. She sent him to the right schools, did extra "work" with him, drilled and when he went to school in K and grade 1 he was ahead. And bored. And she wanted more for him at school because he was gifted. So she had him tested. And guess what, he didn't meet the "gifted" criteria. But to her he is gifted (as are all our children in our own eyes). She pulled him out of school right when she had another baby and her marriage was falling apart. It was not a good scene. But that's another story in and of itself. Has all this been good for him? (and for his younger sibling who didn't have the benefit of mommy's undivided attention for 5 years???) I don't think so. At one point I sent her an article with this - shoot can't remember where I got it - I thought it was on Alfie Kohn's website.....basically the premise was that kids who are labelled gifted then become afraid to fail and disappoint others. (Ok googled "gifted, labels, negative, failure" and came up with tonnes of articles related to this - here's one. ....And I found it in my email to her sent 2 years ago. You can see I am anything but subtle, but she is the same......And it was so interesting that she did not pick up on the damage a gifted label can do but on the fact that she says "good boy" not "good effort" and "good work" - I've heard her tell him how smart and gifted he is!!!! Have you figured out my friend is my cousin.....) So the labelled kid stops challenging themselves and pick topics, projects and activities only that they know they can get good marks on - the easier less challenging, less chance to fail ones. And if I'm not being clear here THIS IS HOW WE LEARN THINGS, BY MAKING MISTAKES and CHALLENGING OURSELVES. (Ok don't know why I yelled, I know I'm preaching to the convinced.) The whole point of learning becomes to maintain the "A"s and not to discover something cool that is interesting. Does this sound familiar to anyone? I was like this. I was labelled "smart" early so I became afraid of failure. I selected based on the grade I could get. I couldn't learn anymore I was so concerned with regurgitating for tests. The most fun with assignments I had at university was when I managed to break out of this mold, about twice. This is exactly what I am trying to avoid by keeping my kids at home. I don't want them labelled and then become their label. I know that they would be well behaved (my 7 year old was in kindergarten) I know they could do all the work required of them easily, I know that they probably wouldn't be the ones getting attention because they would do what they were told...and then what would they start to do to get attention? Did I mention that I wrote SH!T and F&CK on the bathroom wall in grade 2. YES Grade 2. And I got caught. And the very sharp principal made me go home and tell my parents myself. WOW. The psychology behind that. Wow another meandering post...that makes sense to me. And my google search above now has me reading a whole pile of related articles.....
Here's a great article for happy healthy life loving kids

No comments: