where wildly different is perfectly normal
Circle the Wagons
Circle the Wagons

Circle the Wagons

Way back in the early days of western expansion, settlers in their covered wagons would draw their homes on wheels into a circle at night to protect their cattle. A wagon circle wasn’t intended to be a mobile fort to battle Native Amercians and bandits  (although it did serve that purpose as well), it was to ensure the safety of the vulnerable. It was a community drawing together for the protection and good of all.

Is it time for the gifted community to circle the wagons?

This week I was reminded once again why finding and being part of a gifted community is so vital to a parent’s well-being. After I and many others wrote rebuttals against yet another “gifted doesn’t matter” post, internet trolls came lumbering out from whatever dank hole in which they live when they aren’t belching out parenting criticism. The newest cry I noticed was that gifted parents were playing the victim card because we were advocating for our gifted children. That we dared speak out. Yes. How dare we. The nerve of us.

Is it time for the gifted community to circle the wagons?

There is such a rise of anti-intellectualism today. If you are intelligent and curious you are something to be feared and disparaged. Accompanying that, if a lie is told often enough and with enough conviction, it’s perceived as true, however wrong and perverted it may be. Think I’m nuts? Look at the current political climate in the United States and tell me I’m wrong. Now look at how society treats the gifted population. G2e people are intelligent and curious, therefore something to be feared and disparaged. Then consider “gifted doesn’t matter” and “every child is gifted.” Tell that lie often enough and loud enough and to a large enough population that isn’t interested in learning about the topic, and it’s perceived as true, however wrong and perverted it may be. 

Is it time for the gifted community to circle the wagons?

Parents raising gifted kids, especially very young ones, tend to be very isolated. They see their kids hitting intellectual milestones light years ahead of their same age peers and have no idea what is going on. Talking to other parents they’re perceived as bragging, which would be amusing if it weren’t so distressing, because those same parents are also probably dealing with an intensely asychronous kid and are exhausted beyond coherent speech. This is even more pronounced in underserved populations and in countries where giftedness isn’t understood and is far from supported. Supportive gifted communities are desperately needed there.

So is it time for the gifted community to circle the wagons? Should we gather up our most vulnerable and ensure their safety, so they can survive and thrive? The frightened and overwhelmed parents, the kids who say they are obviously aliens because they don’t know anyone else whose minds work like theirs, the underserved populations that are overlooked because of language and socioeconomic barriers? Is it time for us to close ranks and and stand shoulder to shoulder against anti-intellectualism and the shouted lies from those who don’t live this experience? Is it time for the gifted community to draw close and protect ourselves and our most vulnerable?

Is it?


This is part of the September blog hop hosted by Hoagie’s Gifted Education Page. All opinions expressed here are mine alone. Check out other posts on the theme of community at the link above.


  1. Kathleen

    I’m an adult in my 30s who’s profoundly gifted and also 2E. I have been following your blog for a while now, and I just want to say thank you so much for all that you and parents like you do for our community. I grew up in a time and place where there was no identification and support for gifted kids and it was hard. My parents did the best they could (my mom is also gifted) and learned all they could and did things on their own to support and enrich my school experiences and protect me from teachers who thought I just had behavioural problems, but it was challenging and lonely for them too. It’s so nice to see how the internet is changing things for gifted folks. I don’t have children, but I hope to some day, and I feel like if they are like me, they will have so much more support thanks to people like you.

  2. YES! I think that has already started to happen with the responses to the recent anti-intellectual post. I think that we can rally together as a community and circle our wagons now in a way that wasn’t possible before the advancement of the internet and social media. Our numbers are never going to make us the majority, and that’s okay. We can influence people by having a united front and collectively advocating for the needs of our community.

  3. ben

    I think the harsh truth is that the small circle of gifted blogs that mostly read each other and self affirm need to break out of their comfort zone a bit from time to time.

    I was reminded of this by a slightly earlier piece: http://www.planetsmarty.com/2016/08/michael-phelps-kiddie-pool.html?m=1

    If you follow the original link you’ll see the usual suspects congratulating each other. “Awesome piece” etc. Then this was posted to another local group with about 3000 followers I follow concerned with race and equity issues. What follows are just a few of the responses:

    “You lost me at the title. It is possible that there is really an appropriate analogy in there somewhere. However, as a swimmer, I can’t even make sense of the title. Michael trains in the same rectangular pools filled with water that everyone else uses. In other words, Michael got to be an elite athlete by doing the exact sames things that every other swimmer does.”

    “OK, I read the article. Still several problems. Michael was not tested and labeled as an elite swimmer as a little kid. He was just a little kid that went to workout to keep him out of trouble and he *got to be* an elite swimmer as a teenager because his natural talents and work ethic were developed in the same pool as everyone else”

    ” Phelps shouldn’t train in a kiddie pool, but neither should anyone else, because it would be limiting to all swimmers. All swimmers in an Olympic pool have space to move, grow, and explore as individuals, and the kids clinging to the wall, the kids treading water, and the kids swimming laps can all train together and learn from each other.”

    ” I think there has to be a different way to do justice for everyone. Elite training for gifted kids until the racism is addressed is not right (the article touches on that). Also I believe there are are great lessons for smart kids in a class with all sorts of learners being better human beings, which is more important than being smartest. Sports at this level is different than school should be, one person is trying to be the very best. One person, the rest are lesser than. Do we really want our kid to be the Phelps of smartness? I don’t. And it has wrecked havoc on his life although he seems to be coming around.”

    This may sound a bit harsh, but for those of us fighting to preserve a space for advanced learning in the public sphere there is a real need for good arguments.

    1. Selena

      I love this post, but I also love your comment Ben. I think the gifted education community can sometimes be guilty of ‘preaching to the choir’ and you make a very good point that we need to be spreading our messages to a broader audience. There will never be 100% acceptance of our message, but some dissent and critical voices can help us to strengthen our practices and grow as a community.

  4. Rachel

    I have twin boys, age 4, both diagnosed gifted and one of them profoundly so. Thank you for making me feel less alone, as no one seems to really understand that gifted, at least in my anecdotal experience, is mainly about intensity, not about my kids being smarter than anyone else’s kids.

  5. I adore your post. It is so clear, vibrant and powerful. Yes, there is astonishing anti-intellectualism and ignorance, as in the comments Ben noted above. And I think what continues to get lost in all of the arguments about “everyone is gifted…” is that none of these kids CHOSE to be gifted. Their minds are different and they need a different form of nourishment than other kids. So we continue to advocate… Thank you for this beautiful article.

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