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"In that promising land the spirit of I'm as good as you has already begun something more than a generally social influence. It begins to work itself into their educational system. How far its operations there have gone at the present moment, I should not like to say with certainty. Nor does it matter. Once you have grasped the tendency, you can easily predict its future developments; especially as we ourselves will play our part in the developing. The basic principle of the new education is to be that dunces and idlers must not be made to feel inferior to intelligent and industrious pupils. That would be "undemocratic." These differences between pupils - for they are obviously and nakedly individual differences - must be disguised. This can be done at various levels. At universities, examinations must be framed so that nearly all the students get good marks. Entrance examinations must be framed so that all, or nearly all, citizens can go to universities, whether they have any power (or wish) to profit by higher education or not. At schools, the children who are too stupid or lazy to learn languages and
mathematics and elementary science can be set to doing things that children used to do in their spare time. Let, them, for example, make mud pies and call it modelling. But all the time there must be no faintest hint that they are inferior to the children who are at work. Whatever nonsense they are engaged in must have - I believe the English already use the phrase - "parity of esteem." An even more drastic scheme is not possible. Children who are fit to proceed to a higher class may be artificially kept back, because the others would get a trauma -- Beelzebub, what a useful word! - by being left behind. The bright pupil thus remains democratically fettered to his own age group throughout his school career, and a boy who would be capable of tackling Aeschylus or Dante sits listening to his coeval's attempts to spell out A CAT SAT ON A MAT."

"All incentives to learn and all penalties for not learning will be prevented; who are they to overtop their fellows?"

Screwtape proposes a toast, C.S. Lewis, 1959
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I write and talk a lot about gifted folks, what it means, implications... I explore with folks the isolation that gifted kids feel. Less often do I talk about what it is like to be told you are gifted, but feel none of the flying that you know others do, to be told you have wings, but to know that those wings will never unfurl for you, never be able to support you in flight.

I have just finished Nina Kiriki Hoffman's a fistful of sky. The beginning of the book is a poem:

They open their wings,
flash patterns and colors,
fly from flower to flower.
I, with the dark bristles and many feet
of the former form
inch along the ground.

Sometimes, all I want
is two arms full of air,
a fist full of sky.

In some ways, perhaps, to know that you are supposed to have wings, and to believe that you don't and won't - or that you do, but that they allow you no flight, must feel like a greater cruelty than anything I can imagine.

Yet, I suppose it will not surprise those who know me, I believe one should know about one's wings or about the potential for those wings. And...

I believe that you can and will fly - one way or another.
a post script of sorts...

I do not love you because you are gifted.

I love you and you are gifted.

In honor of the season, may I note that this applies to Christmas's past, present, and future and all the times between.

And if you wonder if this applies to you - or are convinced I cannot mean you - be sure, especially then, that I do and it does.


Jun. 7th, 2004 04:18 am
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Keep me from going to sleep too soon.Come wake me up. Come any hour of night.Come whistling up the road.Stomp on the porch. Bang on the door. Make me get out of bed and come and let you in and light a light. Tell me the Northern Lights are on and make me look. Or tell me the clouds are doing something to the moon they never did before. See that I see. Talk to me and show me till I'm half as wide awake as you are.

-- Robert Francis
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I know that it was elsewhere, first, but I DO like it!

To laugh often and love much;
To win the respect of intelligent persons
and the affection of children;
To earn the approbation of honest citizens
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To give of one's self;
To leave the world a bit better, whetherby a
healthy child, a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;
To have played and laughed with enthusiasm
and sung with exulatation;
To know even one life has breathed easier
because you have lived -
This is to have suceeded.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson


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