There’s a well-meaning, but very ignorant article, by Farrah Alexander at Huffington Post floating around at the moment. And like most of these articles, it appears to be inclusive and kind. It’s not. It hurts.
Tabitha over at Simply Precocious wrote a beautiful empathetic piece on why the original article was and is hurtful. Please go and read it.
Now, I could write about why dismissing the idea of giftedness is harmful. And I have previously here.
This isn’t the first or the last ignorant piece written by well-meaning but poorly informed people who think they’re doing everyone a favour by dissing on gifted people. You can read my previous responses here and here and here.
Instead I want to talk about why the idea that difference ‘doesn’t matter‘ is harmful. I see it all the time – “Everyone is different“, “Let you’re unique self shine!”. They’re lovely memes. Lots of fist-pumps and “Yeah! That’s awesome!”
But it’s a rare person that actually means it. Instead, a more honest meme might be:
Every now and again, more often than I am comfortable with, various memes pop up in my news feed. They’re usually positive, with a cute picture – a happy child, a beautiful baby, a rainbow over a lovely green field. Rinse and repeat.
There is a wonderful, probably reasonably obscure book by Rafael Sabatini called “Bellarion the Fortunate” where the intellectually gifted Bellarion is sent out into the world by his abbot because his reading and reason have lead him to believe – with the certainty of an intellectual who has read all the literature and thought hard about it in his convent – that evil and sin are a construct and do not exist. “But to all the weapons of his saintly rhetoric Bellarion continued to oppose the impenetrable shield of that syllogism of his which the abbot knew at heart to be fallacious, yet whose fallacy he laboured in vain to expose. ”  The book is not a treatise on the reality of good or evil, but an adventure book which ends with a very worldly Bellarion who is very much more aware of his fellow humans after leaving his ivory tower of thought. But I am not writing today to talk about Bellarion and the nature of his discussions on good and evil. I am instead going to write about the work, so far, of Dr Clementine Beauvais, and her blog entries on ‘The Giftedness Project’ .
Much like Bellarion’s abbot, I do not expect to be able to make much of an impression on Dr Beauvais as she has her armour of academic credentials, and the raft of knowledge collected from many thousands of academics discussing ideas among themselves with little reference to the outside world, and that armour is very strong. She has also made clear that she is not interested in the reality of giftedness, which she believes to be largely a construct of society.
I’m going to start this post with a link. It’s to the Authentic History Centre in the US on common excuses for stereotypes. In this case, specifically linked to racism. Go have a look at the images. In many ways, they say it better than I can, but I’m going to try anyway, again. Many of you have read Momastery’s post about ‘Every Child is Gifted’. Many of you argued with her, reasoned with her on her forum, on the gifted help-groups where she came to ask questions. Many of you read her apology (which did not appear on her website, only her facebook page*). I, along with a lot of other people, thought that was the end of it. But no. Her ‘positive’ image is out in force again, and a lot of people don’t understand why it is so offensive. So I want you to go and have a look at those historical images. You know, many of them were purported to be ‘positive’ depictions too, at the time. And so, the stereotypes of gifted get trotted out yet again. Sure, she changed one word in her article – but the blurb and title around the reprinting in the Christian Science Monitor shows exactly how skin deep that change is. You can go read the article if you like, here’s the link. Maybe you’ll get a warm glow – a positive story! Then come back here and let’s deconstruct the narrative. Continue reading “The Everyone is Gifted POS, again.”