Recent events have me thinking about gifted children and media exposure. Obviously, I like to talk about gifted kids. That's why I am here! I don't really think of myself as a journalist, but I do write a weekly column and carry a press pass. Frequently, I share stories about my own children or other amazing kids I happen to know. As someone who is very sensitive to the challenges as well as the joys of parenting gifted kids, I strive to be honest and fair and generally positive.
I know many families who shun the spotlight and do not wish their gifted children to be written up in the paper or featured on the news for any reason. That is a valid choice, and a personal decision each family must make based upon their own feelings on the matter. It is a big decision, as some media professionals are not interested in highlighting accomplishments, and will twist the truth for a sensational storyline. There are a few “horror” stories I've heard over the years, from parents who wish they could put that genie back into the bottle. But the vast majority of the people I have known who have allowed their child to be recognized in the media for their achievements say that it was a good experience, and that they are glad that they made that decision. A few details may be lost or changed in translation, but overall, the writers and producers get it right and present a fair portrait of the children they are covering.
The more often people read about or watch television segments on actual gifted kids, the more understanding there will be in the general population, and the less distrust, suspicion, and hostility. Won't it be nice if all the usual myths about gifted kids are dispelled? You know, like the one that says “Cream rises to the top – gifted kids don't need any special treatment to succeed.” Sigh... I was one gifted kid who nearly sank to the bottom for lack of challenge and engagement, so I can personally say that this myth is not only false, but also harmful. I know I am not alone in this, as other former gifted children have shared similar stories about themselves. How about the myth that gifted children are advanced across the board, and that if they have a problem area, they must not actually BE gifted after all? Despite the current wealth of literature and resources that pertain to gifted kids with disabilities who are known as “twice exceptional” , many teachers continue to believe this myth.
My family has chosen to pursue a media opportunity for the first time, and our hope is that this will be a chance to educate the public on gifted children in general, and our own in particular. The academically gifted child rarely receives public accolades. Consider how different this is from what we expect for talented athletes. They get ample attention for their abilities, and are used to being quoted in the paper, interviewed on the radio, or even televised, before entering college. Won't it be nice if a local “athlete of the week” can share the spotlight with “scholar of the week”?