Why Is High-Achieving Synonymous with Being Gifted?



gifted not high achieving

Why Is High-Achieving Synonymous with Being Gifted?

When people hear “gifted,” they often assume that means high-achieving, especially academically. How did these two terms become synonymous? What does giftedness actually entail? How can families, teachers, and other professionals work to change the misperceptions around giftedness to create a more accepting and supportive environment?


Avoiding the High Achievers Label Through Homeschooling gifted~ BJ's Homeschooling (Betsy Sproger)

Avoiding the High Achievers Label Through Homeschooling BLURB - When our daughter was young, we noticed right away that she was quite bright. As I had a background in preschool teaching, we just took the leap and started homeschooling. If our daughter had gone through the public school system, she would probably have been put into a high achievers program. And having that label, would not have been a gift for her.

gifted not high achievingBeing Gifted is Often NOT the Same as Being High-Achieving ~ Crushing Tall Poppies (Celi Trepanier)

When most of us think of gifted children, we automatically think of high-achieving students—the smart ones. I think this misperception began in our schools. I am not saying they intentionally created this misperception, but too many gifted education programs in our schools are implemented to recognize, identify and accept students into their programs based on their performance in school—grades, standardized test scores, behavior. These programs often then accept just the smart ones.

Goofus and Gallant Reimagined ~ Laughing at Chaos (Jen Merrill)

This is the story of two young men. Age peers, but there the similarities diverged, much like the path in the woods. This is the story of Goofus and Gallant.

giftedHigh Achieving Schmigh Achieving ~ The Fringy Bit (Heather Boorman)

I think grades are stupid. Some of you might be thinking, "What do you mean you don’t care about grades?! That’s part of being gifted!”
To which I shout – AHHHHHHHH!!!! NO!! High achievement can be a part of gifted, but it is not automatically a part of being gifted. To be honest, following the expectations and striving for those sought after golden A’s actually stifled my giftedness.

gifted not high achievingLet's Redefine What Gifted Means: Ditching the High Achiever Stereotype ~ Homeschooling 2e (Mary Paul)

These days, the stereotype of the high achiever has taken over the word gifted. To be blunt, I blame our educational system. The system in place rewards those who shut up, listen, and follow the rules.

gifted not high achievingMy Journey Among Checklists and Labels ~ Free Learning (Julie Uzelac Schneider)
Rest assured that the tests are not arbitrary - the educational research community wrestles with all aspects of the tests from what topics to test to the language used to word the questions and answers and even cultural connotations implied in the text. By understanding this as well as the normal distribution for any given test, you can see that high-achievers are rare; gifted persons are rarer still. The degree to which you agree with the 2-standard-deviation cut-off to label someone as "gifted" (and the 3-standard deviation cut-off for the "profoundly gifted" label) is up to you.

gifted We Don't Need to Rethink Giftedness. We Need to Rethink School. ~ Not So Formulaic (Ginny Kochis)

When we’re talking giftedness in schools and society, very often we’re talking something else. We’re referring to high achievers who’ve got grit, determination, and a solid work ethic, characteristics the neurodivergent often lack. The perception leaves our children trapped in an archaic, backward method - a caste system modern education promotes at will. It’s not the time to rethink giftedness. It’s time to rethink how we educate our kids.

gifted not high achievingWhy Is High-Achieving Synonymous with Being Gifted? Because We Didn’t Listen to This Woman ~ Help My Child Thrive (Teresa Currivan)

100 years ago, American psychologist Leta Hollingworth articulated the things about gifted children that many of us, especially gifted homeschoolers, have struggled to learn and to explain to others. Her voice was an important antidote to the masculine, achievement-expecting idea of high intelligence of her time. How did the term “gifted”, the term coined by her, become associated with high-achievement?

Resources for Understanding Giftedness

gifted resources

Giftedness is not just test scores or academic achievement. It's not all difficulties, either. Jokes about duct tape and soundproof closets aside, it can be helpful to understand what your child is feeling, how they are developing, and what they were thinking when they asked that unusual question or performed that dangerous experiment alone out in the shed (and how do you explain the damage to your neighbors?). After all, not all children are gifted and all gifted children do not learn alike. These kids are asynchronous, intense, and endlessly fascinating to live with. Sometimes their giftedness may be easy to communicate to others in the community, but sometimes it's hidden by twice exceptional (2e) issues or by the expanded complexity of race and culture (Gifted Cubed). Having a gifted or 2e teenager can add a whole new layer of complication to parenting. Additional resources here give some perspective to those of us raising such children and reassure us that we are not alone.


Don't miss these topical books from GHF Press:

educating your gifted childEducating Your Gifted Child: How One Public School Teacher Embraced Homeschooling

by Celi Trépanier
of Crushing Tall Poppies

What would make a dedicated public school teacher decide to homeschool her own children? In her new book, Educating Your Gifted Child: How One Public School Teacher Embraced Homeschooling, Celi Trépanier (Crushing Tall Poppies) shares her journey from a top teacher in traditional schools to a disillusioned parent struggling to get an appropriate and challenging education for her gifted sons. How is the current educational system failing our gifted and twice-exceptional students? How can parents fight for the education their children need and deserve? What options do parents and their gifted children have? Celi addresses these concerns and more in Educating Your Gifted Child.

Boost: 12 Effective Ways to Lift Up Our Twice-Exceptional ChildrenIf This is a Gift, Can I Send it Back?: Surviving in the Land of the Gifted and Twice-Exceptional

by Kelly Hirt

Even the most experienced teachers often know little about the challenges their gifted and twice-exceptional students face. Misinformation abounds, and well-intentioned in-class solutions can backfire. How can teachers support the educational and social needs of these unique learners, while still addressing the needs of all their other students?

Kelly Hirt, a public school teacher with 25 years experience and writer at MyTwiceBakedPotato.com, understands the frustration felt by many teachers and parents. After realizing that her own son was one of these unique learners, Hirt developed strategies that any teacher or parent can readily implement.

In her new book, Boost: 12 Effective Ways to Lift Up Our Twice-Exceptional Children, Hirt outlines 12 strategies to design a supportive, safe, and encouraging learning environment for twice-exceptional students. By utilizing Hirt’s strategies, educators will join with parents and students to create an educational experience in which all students can thrive and excel.


GHF also offers resources for understanding your gifted/2e child's social needs and finding community for yourself and for your child. Check out our online classes,
where kids make friends and gain mentors. Dear GHF also answers questions about


FREE Downloadable Brochures:
The Healthcare Providers’ Guide to Gifted Children
The Educators’ Guide to Gifted Children
Twice Exceptional—Smart Kids with Learning Differences
Gifted Cubed -- The Expanded Complexity of Race & Culture

What is a Blog Hop?

A Blog Hop is a way to discover and follow blogs, as well as share your own. Every month or two, we pose a topic, our blogging members discuss it, and we link to their posts. GHF blog hops include bloggers from around the world, all of them committed to articulating the unique concerns, needs, and perspectives of gifted/2e families, especially (but not exclusively) those who choose non-traditional education for their kids.

Past Blog Hops






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