Opinion
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.

Events

Jobs October 2021 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
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.
Sponsor
Data Webinar
Using Integrated Analytics To Uncover Student Needs
Overwhelmed by data? Learn how an integrated approach to data analytics can help.

Content provided by Instructure
Professional Development Online Summit What's Next for Professional Development: An Overview for Principals
Join fellow educators and administrators in this discussion on professional development for principals and administrators.

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 'Widespread' Racial Harassment Found at Utah School District
The federal probe found hundreds of documented uses of the N-word and other racial epithets, and harsher discipline for students of color.
1 min read
A CNG, compressed natural gas, school bus is shown at the Utah State Capitol, Monday, March 4, 2013, in Salt Lake City. After a winter with back-to back episodes of severe pollution in northern Utah, lawmakers and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert will discuss clean air legislation and call for government and businesses to convert to clean fuel vehicles.
Federal civil rights investigators found widespread racial harassment of Black and Asian American students in the Davis school district north of Salt Lake City, Utah.
Rick Bowmer/AP Photo
Education Tiny Wrists in Cuffs: How Police Use Force Against Children
An investigation finds children as young as 6 and a disproportionate amount of Black children have been handled forcibly by police officers.
15 min read
Jhaimarion, 10, reacts as he listens to his mother, Krystal Archie talking with an Associated Press reporter in Chicago on Sept. 23, 2021. Archie’s three children were present when police, on two occasions, just 11 weeks apart, kicked open her front door and tore through their home searching for drug suspects. She’d never heard of the people they were hunting. Her oldest child, Savannah was 14 at the time; her youngest, Jhaimarion, was seven. They were ordered to get down on the floor.
Jhaimarion, 10, reacts as he listens to his mother, Krystal Archie talking with an Associated Press reporter in Chicago on Sept. 23, 2021. Archie’s three children were present when police, on two occasions, just 11 weeks apart, kicked open her front door and tore through their home searching for drug suspects. She’d never heard of the people they were hunting. Her oldest child, Savannah was 14 at the time; her youngest, Jhaimarion, was seven. They were ordered to get down on the floor.
Nam Y. Huh/AP
Education Gunman in 2018 Parkland School Massacre Pleads Guilty
A jury will decide whether Nikolas Cruz will be executed for one of the nation’s deadliest school shootings.
3 min read
Annika Dworet and her husband, Mitch Dworet, wipe away tears as their son's name is read aloud during Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz's guilty plea on all 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 shootings, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. The Dworet's son, Nicholas Dworet, 17, was killed in the massacre.
Annika Dworet and her husband, Mitch Dworet, wipe away tears as their son's name is read aloud during Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz's guilty plea on all 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 shootings, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. The Dworet's son, Nicholas Dworet, 17, was killed in the massacre.
Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP
Education Briefly Stated: October 20, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read