There’s been all this discussion lately on one homeschooling loop about “gifted” children. I stopped reading the posts after the first few. This whole labeling system drives me crazy. I find it disappointing that homeschoolers would fall into the labeling trap. Years ago there was a member on the same homeschooling loop whose signature was followed by a listing of her three kids and each of their “labels”: OCD, ADD, ODD, what-have-you. I understand that we all feel better sometimes when we have a label or a diagnosis. There’s a feeling of relief: “I’m not the only one with a kid like this!”
But isn’t it somewhat disturbing to be labeled like that? What if you’re the kid whose mom lists your labels after your name? Sure, labels can be challenging. You might be determined enough to break the bondage of your diagnosis. Being known as “shy” as a child, for example, made me want to do everything possible to shed that stigma. (Note to self: why is shyness a stigma--good topic for another day!) But labels can also cripple. Being known as “shy” was limiting to me. Sure, I was shy—but there was a lot more to me than my shyness.
Why do people want to label their kids by one facet of their composition? The whole “gifted” thing rubs me the wrong way. I find it painful to read a post on a homeschooling loop that says something like, “My child has been tested as gifted. Is it possible to get him into the talented-and-gifted program at our local public school but still homeschool him?” And then someone will write back, totally serious: “Yes! Your child is considered special needs, so you have a right to have an IEP for him.” Why in the world would you want your gifted child in the TAG program at your local school? Why not just create your own TAG program? Isn’t that what homeschooling is all about? I must be missing something. And why do we need to test our kids to find out if they are “gifted”? Isn’t that diagnosis really for the parent? I know that my 13-year-old doesn’t need to know if he is officially gifted. He has a big enough head already. (Kidding, Jesse!)
When I hear labels, I see chains. Small boxes. Identifying marks on the forehead. Label parties (“Hi, I’m Joe, and I’m gifted!” “Nice to meet you! I’m Jane, and I’m ODD/OCD!”). No thanks! We’ll take the smorsgasbord.