Education Opinion

“I Don’t Want To Be A Smarty Anymore”

By Tamara Fisher — June 30, 2010 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

One day this year, one of my elementary gifted students went home and proclaimed (in obvious distress) to his mom that he didn’t want to be a “smarty” anymore. Turns out the kids in his class had been teasing him about his very-apparent intelligence. In his meltdown, he expressed that he just wanted to be normal, that he wanted to know what it was like to not worry about everything so much, that he just wanted to be a regular kid and not “stick out” so much all the time.

I wondered how many of my other students wished at times that they weren’t so intelligent. What were their thoughts on the “love/hate” relationship gifted individuals sometimes have with their giftedness? As a means of offering you some insight into the mind of a gifted child, here are their responses to the prompt, “Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so smart because...” [To their credit, about half of the kids said they were glad they were intelligent. I’ll post those responses separately.] [All names are student-chosen pseudonyms.]

I get taken advantage of. People ask to be my partner or work with me on a paper and I am stuck doing all the work. The only thing they do is make sure their name is on the paper or project.” Charlotte, 8th grade

“I don’t want to always be the ‘smart kid.’ I can’t be with the ‘cool kids’ because I’m smart. It annoys me so much. And sometimes I feel like I don’t want to be with the ‘cool kids’ because they won’t accept me for who I am.” Puff the Magic Dragon, 5th grade

“Sometimes when I ask people what we’re doing, they say, ‘You’re in GT, you’re smart... Figure it out for yourself!’ -- and I don’t like that.” Cheese, 5th grade

“I feel like I am different from other kids and sometimes I feel that they think I should be treated specially. Sometimes people point out my intelligence and make a big deal of it. I try to be humble about it because I don’t like the idea of being different from others.” Olive, 9th grade

“Ignorance is bliss. Being smart has allowed me the ability to watch the world. This isn’t a horrible situation. My regret arises whenever I want to experience the world without watching, to have flares of emotion without questioning ‘why’ or ‘how,’ to experience life to the ‘fullest’ without asking why the rain makes people sad or happy.” Zim, 12th grade

“Because I focus more on school than my social life, I am an outcast. I rarely go over to my ‘friends’’ houses, or go anywhere for that matter. Sometimes I have to ask myself if I really even have any friends. I never talk to any of these people except for the somewhat off-topic comments exchanged in class or a light conversation at lunch, and nearly all of that ‘conversation’ I am the listener not the talker. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so smart because I want to be included, accepted by a group of people who I can call friends not ‘friends.’” Jane, 12th grade

“If I wasn’t so intelligent, my parents would be more accepting of when I get a lower grade than what they expect me to get now. (All of my reasons for not wanting to be smart that I can think of involve others’ expectations of me, not my expectations of myself.)” Sawzall, 11th grade

“If I wasn’t so smart, then I wouldn’t have so much expected of me. Nobody would be disappointed with my work. I’ve come to learn that it’s part of life and you just have to do your best.” Keigyn, 8th grade

People expect so much more of me than I can do. I’m not smart in every single category in school.” Saly, 5th grade

“Everyone treats you differently, like a geek or something like that.” Phoenix, 5th grade

“When I’m trying to work, sometimes people come up to me and ask me to correct their work even though I’m busy. Also, sometimes they throw a freak-out-fit if I don’t get good grades or if I’m not perfect ALL OF THE STINKING TIME!” Jelly, 5th grade

The teachers stop calling on me because they know that I know all the answers.” Chang, 7th grade

Sometimes it’s hard to talk to people. My vocabulary is a bit bigger than others. I get the ‘what?’ look all the time. I also get teased and questioned and poked and picked by teachers and kids!” Lillian, 5th grade

I get scared for the world. Being smart allows me to see the world and what trouble we’re really in.” Alexander, 8th grade

“Kids are afraid of my very high self esteem and my intelligence and smartness so they feel insecure and make me the butt of their jokes or the reason of gossip.” Laine, 5th grade

“I want to know what it’s like to not be smart.” Ski Dude, 5th grade

I get teased a lot. Kids assume a lot about you and people have higher expectations of you.” Wallace, 8th grade

“Other kids expect you to get strate A’s and know every answer to every question. Sometimes I get a B or B+ and there like, ‘wow, YOU got a B!’ I’m not grate at spelling, as you might see.” Annie, 5th grade

“Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so smart because then the teachers wouldn’t always expect so much out of me. They wouldn’t always expect straight A’s and nothing less. It is also kind of annoying sometimes when kids ask you ‘what’s the answer to this problem?’ or ‘can you help me?’ even when the answer is so simple if they would just take the time to do it.” Jill, 5th grade

What would the gifted kids in your life have to say about the not-so-rosy side of being gifted?

The opinions expressed in Unwrapping the Gifted are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP