Frozen gifts

So, on New Year’s Eve, the kids and I drove all the way out to Creston, IA to watch Frozen with my husband. It’s about the beautiful princess Elsa who has the weird (and somewhat useless) power to freeze things. Once I got over that, I enjoyed the movie. And the poor princess locked away in her room as her powers grew got me thinking about how we treat giftedness in this country.

Sheer numbers alone force teachers to “teach to the middle.” Students who perform significantly above or below average are difficult to deal with in the classroom environment. Thanks to testing requirements, there are a number of services available to lower performing students. And while gifted and talented programs available at many schools may provide some much needed enrichment, gifted students often have a difficult time fitting in.

Some eventually drop out.

But then, you don’t even need to be gifted to feel locked away in a classroom. I have nothing against the idea of public school. I went to public school. I did well. I went on to become a public school teacher. But it seems that over the years, school has been taking over more and more of our children’s lives. There is increasing pressure to increase instructional time through lengthened school days and more of them. Recess is being taken away. More focus is being put on math and reading in the early grades to the detriment of everything else. And to prepare for the all important testing, more and more homework is being handed out.

And I wonder how much time the average student has to really notice the world around them. To explore. To think. To daydream. To get bored enough to come up with something to do . . . and to start recognizing his own interests and talents.

How many are frozen by the expectations of a single standardized test given to all students as a measure of academic achievement?

And it isn’t just our schools. When my daughter was in kindergarten, I joined a Christian homeschool support forum and made a comment about my daughter’s budding leadership abilities and not being sure how to direct that. A number of women jumped on the thread warning me to “nip that in the bud.” Strong girls, I learned, are a parenting challenge. Not because you have to guide them with any particular skill, but because you have to break that strength. Apparently, submission and strength are mutually exclusive concepts.

And with all the strong women of the Bible . . . and all the strong women leaders of the Bible . . . the discussion mostly left me wondering if we all read the same book.

And it left me concerned for these girls whose God-given gifts and talents were frozen by an ideology that allowed only for a very narrow view of what it meant to be a woman.

Conceal, don’t feel, never let them know . . .

How many of our children can relate to Elsa’s song? And how many will feel driven off into the cold before they can finally let it go?

About Dana

Dana homeschools her children on five acres in the country with her husband John.
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7 Responses to Frozen gifts

  1. Janice Mace says:

    Well stated. I so agree with this.

  2. Troy Eckhardt says:

    I have not seen this movie, but I understand your POV.

    I was publicly schooled, and was in the gifted program, and that experience greatly shaped who I am today. I also taught in public schools from 1992 until 2000. I left for several reasons, but one of the catalysts that sped up my departure was that while I was a teacher of the gifted the county dissolved all gifted programs and lumped the kids into the type of classrooms you describe in your posts. Not only that, but they gave my students to another teacher because he had seniority over me due to his longevity with the school system. I suppose the viewed them merely as more easily managed students. When my former pupils began talking to their new teacher about Avogadro’s number and Plank’s constant (we’re talking about sixth and seventh graders here) this teacher came to me asking what those things meant. I just laughed at him; I was so angry it was the nicest response I could muster.

    In my opinion it is criminally fraudulent to take the extra federal money for each of these gifted children and to lump them in a regular classroom.

    • Dana says:

      It’s tough because so many people think that gifted students need “socialization” and opportunities to relate to their peers. But when you have so few truly gifted students, I think it is good for them to know they aren’t alone and the only ones who are “different.” They need time to explore their talents and be challenged as well. School isn’t supposed to be just about learning to get along.

      And as much as that is brought up as a goal for mainstreaming and against homeschooling, you would think it is the only goal of education. And as mean as kids are to each other, I think they’re failing at that, anyway.
      Dana´s last [type] ..Frozen gifts

  3. Elsa's Song says:

    Let it go, Let it go
    Can’t hold it back anymore
    Let it go, Let it go
    Turn my back and slam the door

    The snow glows white on the mountain tonight
    Not a footprint to be seen
    A kingdom of isolation and it looks like I’m the queen
    The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside
    Couldn’t keep it in
    Heaven knows I tried

    Don’t let them in, don’t let them see
    Be the good girl you always have to be
    Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know
    Well now they know

    Let it go, let it go
    Can’t hold it back anymore
    Let it go, let it go
    Turn my back and slam the door
    And here I stand
    And here I’ll stay
    Let it go, let it go
    The cold never bothered me anyway

    It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small
    And the fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all
    Up here in the cold thin air I finally can breathe
    I know I left a life behind but I’m too relieved to greive

    Let it go, Let it go
    Can’t hold it back anymore
    Let it go, Let it go,
    Turn my back and slam the door
    And here I stand
    And here
    I’ll stay
    Let it go, let it go
    The cold never bothered me anyway

    Standing – frozen in the life I’ve chosen
    You won’t find me, the past is so behind me
    Buried in the snow

    Let it go, let it go
    Can’t hold it back anymore
    Let it go, let it go,
    Turn my back and slam the door
    And here I stand
    And here I’ll stay
    Let it go, let it go
    The cold never bothered me anyway…
    (let the music go on)

    And here I’ll stay
    Let it go, let it go
    Oooooh let it go.

  4. Jillbert says:

    I have mixed feelings about gifted programs. I think they work for the majority of gifted kids but there are always those that derive no benefit. My daughter (type A, headstrong girl — ha! there would have been NO way to “nip that in the bud”) thrives in hers. She is a natural leader and the program is just one more way for her to dig and and learn more — she loves it! Her closest friends come from the program and they are a teacher’s dream — involved, interested, nerdy, but delightful! But, they way she is wired, I think she would thrive ANYWHERE. My oldest, a highly gifted, introverted boy, most in need of special learning opportunities, got nothing out of it. The socialization that we were hoping for? No. He didn’t connect with any of the others in the program. Academically, until high school, I feel like all his learning happened outside of school. School was a place he sat and waited for the day to end and got As for showing up and doing a tiny bit of work (not anything near what he was capable of!). I regret sending him. He is now a sophomore at a private, rigorously academic school. Socially, he still is quiet with a handful of close friends, but his mind is alive and he’s being challenged to think for the first time (in school). He is thriving (at last!). His school demands a high level of work — no short cuts which is affirming for a smart kid — there are no A’s for little effort. For the first time, my boy is enjoying the feeling of academic accomplishment. I guess all this is to say that it’s hard to come up with a program that fits all. It’s up to us as parents to determine what works (and doesn’t). A child being able to exploit their gifts is our burden. The failure of the gifted program to help my son is not theirs — it is mine. I truly wish I had sought other educational environments for my son before high school.

    • Dana says:

      I agree. Not everyone fits in any program. Not every “regular” kid fits in a “regular” classroom. It is important that parents notice when their child is not thriving and do what they can to help their children, but there is a lot of pressure from schools to keep them enrolled in their programs, too.

      I’m glad you were able to find such a good fit for your son!
      Dana´s last [type] ..Frozen gifts

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