Monday, September 01, 2014

Representation of Giftedness in Recent Books

I just finished reading two books that dealt peripherally with schools for the gifted, one of which also had an important character who was gifted.  In both cases, the schools for the gifted were portrayed as places filled with mean characters and unrealistic demands.  One school was actually more like a prep school, but the main character was asked to leave the school when it became obvious that he wasn't doing well academically.

I understand that not all schools are warm and welcoming places, but it was rather painful to realize that the reason these particular schools were portrayed in such negative ways is because smart kids went there - kids who spent 3 weeks constructing their own solar panels - in 4th grade; kids who talked about science and not sports; kids who made were upset if you cost their team points, because you spent more than 5 minutes and 48 seconds in the bathroom.

And, what was the important character like?  All of the typical characteristics of "genius" good kids.  Not great at playing sports, but good at analyzing the game and the characteristics of the other team.  In free time, he reads a book.  When he plays games with a brother, he lets the brother win sometimes.

Both authors went out of their way to portray all of the negative stereotypes of schools for smart kids and the second author managed to include just about every stereotype of gifted boys, too. 

It was supremely depressing.

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