Is Gifted Education Worth the Hassle?

Mackenzie Powell, writer, photographer, gifted

I remember getting tested for the gift program in second grade. I sat in a room with a kind lady who asked me to solve things that were easy for me. The test consisted of solving puzzles, math problems and answering questions about a passage. Second grade Mackenzie had no idea what she was getting herself into. She answered questions with ease until it was finally done.

I went through the gifted program all throughout my elementary school years without any complaints. Once I got to my middle school, I started to see the flaws in the system.

Mackenzie Powell

I started seeing how the gifted program has driven me to want perfection in everything I do. Starting in the gifted classroom, I had the expectation of being the best. I remember the first start of high school English when I got my first C. I told myself that I was going to amount to nothing. From such a young age, I got taught that if it wasn’t an A, it wasn’t my best work. Yet, that English paper was one I was most proud of. Gifted education taught me that no matter how much work I put into things if it’s not perfect than it doesn’t matter.

It wasn’t until middle school that I realized gifted education made collaborating hard. In SAGE, Students Academically Gifted Education, part of the curriculum was an independent study. Independent study was like the SAGE equivalent of an exhibition. This project took almost all school year and required little input on anyone other than you. Once I got to high school where group projects got encouraged, I realized I didn’t know how to not do all the work. My classmates would fight to be my partner, not because I am smart, but because I would do all the work. At a young age, I learned independence was the only thing that was going to guarantee a perfect product.

In elementary school, the SAGE program was an enrichment class. Gifted children didn’t receive challenging curriculum making other classroom time still easy. This enrichment program did nothing to make children want to further their learning. It got viewed as another place to get easily bored.

Gifted turned more into a label than a helpful tool. Gifted education turned more into me trying to work hard to live up to expectations I didn’t even have for myself.