Where Ignorance, Simplification, and Standardization Fail our Brightest Learners
It is hard to craft an accurate image of the Exceptionally/Profoundly Gifted (EPG) when most folks have little experience with EPG individuals and can, therefore, (unknowingly) traffic in inaccurate data on this subset of the human family.
Rarity is one thing – they are comparatively very few EPGs in the world. We run into them infrequently, and they are a (surprisingly) diverse group. Due to this rarity, most people unwittingly hang onto widely held cultural beliefs depicting the very bright, populist mythology that is tough to shake.
As one Mom quipped to me recently, my son is no “Young Sheldon” with extraordinary intellectual capabilities that are eclipsed by social ineptitude and dysregulated emotions. He is, rather, an extraordinary young boy (age 8) who can, at one moment, discuss Mathematical theorem at a college level, and then, in the next moment, delight in some spontaneous play with our family dog, unfettered and natural. He has friends of all stripes, although finding "true peers" -- those with whom he can easily express his moment- to- moment thoughts and feelings, is rare. He has an active creative and physical life; he exercises daily, plays piano, and is a master puppeteer. He worries about the world problematique in a way and at a level of conceptualization that is rare for human beings of any age. These diverse experiences are his "normal". He is happy and well adjusted although ofttimes lonely for true peer interaction. We work hard with our team of professionals to craft an educational experience fitting his very uncommon needs. We take each year as it comes as his development overall is rapid and surprising.
Introversion is another falsehood feeder. Most (although certainly not all) EPGs are introverts. That is, most EPGs process thoughts and feelings internally first before revealing them in the world, which creates a buffering effect.
There is hardly any direct expression of these EPG’s immediate thoughts, sense impressions, or feelings. This internal processing is done extraordinarily quickly -- for many EPGs -- and imperceptibly – for most -- so it is difficult to know what an EPG child or adult thinks and feels, unfiltered and wholly. This imperceptible internal processing is the case, even with those (rare) highly socially adapted introverted EPGs who appear to immediately and easily express themselves in the world. When questioned, they admit to an internal vetting process that precedes any direct verbal expression of their inner world: a lightning-fast vetting process. One they may not have been aware of, so axiomatic to their internal processing, and (for this socially adapted subgroup) so trusted that it had become an automatic process and near unconscious.
For the extraverts in the EPG populace, there are other inhibiting effects at play, from earliest times, constraining influences that, over time, prevent them from being able to recognize their extraordinary ability and sensitivity in its natural state in the world.
Extraverted EPGs energize by communicating thoughts, emotions, and ideas to others, striving for feedback, realizing the fullness of how they think and feel through the expression, and the available feedback. So, when extraverted EPG children experience a mismatch between their authentic experience, expressed openly in the world, and the often befuddled recipient(s), it creates a profound dissonance.
Over time the extraverted EPG, sensitive and aware -- originally resilient and open-hearted – learns "less is more" in almost all social exchanges. (Or they learn to talk over top people, with no expectation of any social reciprocity)
In a self-mutiny of their core psychic organizing and expressing facilities, they learn to stifle core aspects of their (essential) lived experience.
Often it is their emotional world they scrap, in an unconscious attempt to fit, with the faint hope that "less" will be better received.
This abandoning of their innately complex emotional world – inextricably linked to their intellect and intuitive capacities and an essential component of a unified and vital human experience – creates a dangerously imbalanced inner state and, often, a rigid and inflexible interface with the world.
They experience, at a very young age, diminishing social-emotional capacity due to this repressive action, which will de-energize and skew their healthy development over time.
This repressive emotional campaign is toxic for the developing child, and EPG adults report horrific consequences that ensued for them when they shut down their dynamic, rich, and complex emotional world.