“The Gifted Tag”
I’ve been wanting to write a story about giftedness for many years now. Over the last couple of months I finally did the research and interviews I wanted to do. The resulting story, titled “The Gifted Tag” appears in last week’s issue of Swerve Magazine. The story is also online here.
I first became interested in giftedness since Jennifer Aldred invited me to as a ‘visiting writer’ to her summer writing class for gifted kids. Unsurprisingly, I was struck by the mature intelligence of the kids. I’d never met teenagers like this before. I could speak to them about literature without having to dumb anything down. Best of all, though, they were completely devoid of cynicism. Unlike many adults I talk to about writing, these kids weren’t preoccupied with book contracts and didn’t ask for my agent’s phone number. Nor did they want to share their own personal horror stories about trying to get published. They just wanted to write. I can’t tell you how refreshing this was.
A few years later, I started teaching at WordsWorth, a summer writing camp for teens. WordsWorth is not specifically for ‘gifted kids,’ but many of the campers I had the pleasure of teaching definitely fit the mold. (In fact, Alyssa Morgan, who I write about in this story, was one of my WordsWorth students.) Gifted or not, the WordWorthians are a joy to work with and my annual teaching gig has become the highlight of my summer.
The response to “The Gifted Tag,” on my own social media and beyond, has been very surprising. The story is being shared among gifted education activists around the world. As it turns out, gifted education is important to a great number of people. I feel honoured to be part of the conversation.
Well done. So much pertinent information. The thing that stuck out most for me was the line “Most importantly, though, was that Mark had found his tribe.” Even though I do not have a gifted child, I do have a child with many special needs, and when it comes to education she has not been able to find her tribe, and struggles on a daily basis with “fitting in”. It affects every other part of her life.
Your article is wonderful – thank you for describing the struggles of living with giftedness and twice-exceptionality. People I’ve shared it with feel the same way – it’s rare to find a piece that eloquently portrays these stories. Your work is much appreciated!
Thank you for your story on giftedness. Having recently taken guardianship of my 14 year old niece, my wife and I are slowly discovering she may be on the gifted spectrum. She does however identify with many of the emotional issues you describe. Anxiety. Perfectionism. And a trauma we are trying to work through leaving her with some PTSD. I wanted to thank you for your story and let you know it is reaching people. Even in Readers Digest, while camping in late July.
Thanks, Joel. Best of luck with your niece. The original version of the story was a little longer and can be found here: