I wrote this the week before school started this fall.
If you’ve spent any time reading my tweets or hearing me talk about my students in person, you may have picked up on the fact that I often refer to them as “my babies.”
Upon reflection, I’ve realized that to an outside observer, this may seem like I’m being condescending or reductive in my views on students’ abilities. And although I know #haterswillhate and such, I figured it behooved me to articulate why I say this, and why it’s a conscious choice.
I don’t like to collectively call my students “friends” or “boys and girls.” And despite the rigorous academics and future preparation students find in my classroom, “scholars” sounds a little too stuffy even for my overly formal patterns of speech. When I’m speaking to my class, I usually call them “ladies and gentlemen.”
My kids are brilliant. They absolutely blow my mind. The director of the HCP program said my room has the feel of a college course, and that’s a huge compliment to my students’ dedication and understanding. However, in casual conversations, I began noticing I call my kids my kids “my babies.”
So there’s the obvious connection that I have no children of my own, ergo I really do view these kids as my progeny. But I think there’s something more to it as well.
Many people think gifted kids can just take care of themselves, that they can self-direct their learning even when the class is painfully boring, that they’re independent, that they are little adults in tiny bodies. Reminding myself that these tiny humans are CHILDREN, despite their stunning knowledge of Norse mythology and their ability to design elaborate electrical systems, is imperative.
My sensitivity to the needs of gifted kids to be treated in a developmentally respectful way alongside nurturing their accelerated talents was brought to light when I read Alice Miller’s The Drama of the Gifted Child.
These children are often academically brilliant, and they’re frequently insanely savvy about the emotions of those around them. But just because they can mimic our speech and mannerisms doesn’t mean we can let them fend for themselves. They deserve a developmentally appropriate, rigorous education.
I love my babies, and I can’t wait to begin learning with them on Wednesday.