Saturday, July 12, 2008

Did I tell you I'm really really smart?

Two recent incidents:

My daughter met a girl about her age at daycamp and had time to get to know her a little. She's a nice kid, but I was a little stunned by a conversation I only part heard. They were talking about their schools and the girl asked mine "do you have SEEC(some kind of gifted program) at your homeschool?" Of course my little one had no idea what she was talking about, so the girl explained "It's a place for the really really smart kids to go and learn stuff; I go there 3 times a week." She made this point at least 3 times that I could hear: "It's for really really smart kids (always 2 reallys) and I go there." OK, got it, you're really really smart.

She was a really nice kid and did seem very bright. But not bright enough to know that people don't really care about hearing how smart you are, over and over.


Some family friends came over to play. The boy who is my boy's age proudly told my husband about his report card and announced that he was in the top 1% of his class. He had that look, you know, expectant and, yes, a bit smug. When my husband just said "oh, that's nice" and moved on to something else, he looked disappointed.

He is mostly a nice friend but but he sometimes calls my son "dumb" "uncool" and "gay." My boy has to hide any complex Lego creations he has in his room because this boy has broken some apart even after being asked not to touch them. Oh, did I mention that he goes to Christian school?


Now I don't begrudge bright children special opportunities, and I understand a child should be proud of real accomplishments, like working hard to get good grades, and then getting them. "Being gifted" or really really smart does not seem like an accomplishment. It's the way the person is. And it's great. But it seems that something important might be missing from the education here: humility.

I am not sure why the report card shows the child's percentile in the class. Seems that should be information for the parent, not the kid. My kids don't see their standardized test scores. They don't know what grade levels they test out at in the various subjects. I simply tell them they did fine where they did do fine, and talk about where we need to work harder or change what's not working for them. My kids' scores are all over the place anyway; neither of them fit perfectly in any grade level. I don't think that's unusual.

My kids are doing fine, more than fine in some areas. But if I had to choose between them being really really smart or being humble, guess what I'd pick?


Sandy said...

Considering the big deal schools make over those kinds of "accomplishments" it's no wonder kids act way. Being 'really, really smart' and getting good grades is how they've been taught to get approval and attention. That's sad since at some point in life they will no longer be the smart kids, in gifted classes or at the top of their class or peer group. Then what happens?

DADvocate said...

Humility is a great virtue. Not only does it make a person more likable but it protects them from fall out should they not live up to their professed abilities at some point in the future. People lay in wait to shoot down braggarts when they fail.

I consider my kids "really, really smart" and, yes, they're in honors and those other classes. But they seem naturally humble about that part except when they show up one of those kids you were talking about. In sports I teach them not to brag, that their actions will speak for themselves. No matter what people say, everyone knows whose "really" best, smartest, etc.

edwardherda said...

These are the kids who will, in the future, be saying "do you how much money I make?" Yeah, the admittance of one's "smartness" or IQ is a bit ironic — don't cha' think?

BTW, did I ever tell you that I'm studying to take the MENSA test ;)