If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: We gifted tend to be Jacks-of-all trades and masters of none. I am usually trying to explain to students in the secondary why others might have beaten them at a competition OR I’m attempting to define “gifted” as those who learn equally well in all modalities and thus seem to have multiple strengths and talents. Whether used to comfort or to encourage, the tendency remains somewhat of a truth for most gifted individuals. In fact, I build my secondary program completely around this thought. I tell the kids not to pigeonhole themselves with one great talent or skill. Instead, they should make themselves more marketable by being able to do many things well. To that end, I require that all of my secondary students participate in speech competitions and robotics or engineering fair (dependent upon age). Then I ask them to also compete in vocal music, band, and math competitions while holding offices in student government and honor societies.
Now, as I sit on the precipice of integrating a sports program into our school, I find myself wondering just how many “trades” are too many. The high school students and I have been trying out ideas that will allow students to compete across the board (if desired) without causing a permanent state of stress.
The trick is to get gifted kids to “try” something new. Many won’t for fear of failure, but most, once they have, find they’re pretty good at it. So I walk a tightrope between “pushing” and “allowing” students to be in multiple activities.
I will admit, though, that I don’t like losing any more than my students do. Within hours of a defeat, I have a whole new strategy planned for winning, which begs the question: Should I require less, but require that “less” be better? My own children stayed at Lawton Academy because they wanted to participate in multiple electives and that was not an option at their designated public school.
So, in our upcoming sports program, we will offer recreational team opportunities for those who would like to be able to play on an office or church team when they are adults, and we will offer competitive team opportunities for those who find they are really pretty good and want to advance their opportunities in that sport. To free up some time for sports, we will loosen the reigns on the fine arts, “requiring” only one credit per semester but “allowing” more if desired.
Like a typical gifted person, I want to be the Jack AND the master! I guess I shouldn’t expect less from my students.