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Redwood Bark

Redwood Bark

Construction students Taylor Bridges, Leila Fraschetti, Emmanuel Medina, Mary Coleman and John Kozubik (left to right) applaud their peers as they speak about their appreciation for their teachers and the resources they were provided.
Photo Essay: Redwood ROP Construction Program celebrates graduates
Isabelle Davis May 23, 2024

  On May 22, the Redwood Regional Occupational Program Construction Technology celebrated the graduation of 19 Redwood students and...

Marin’s Finest Fairways: Reviewing the best public golf courses
Marin’s Finest Fairways: Reviewing the best public golf courses
Hayden Donehower May 23, 2024

Tee up for an adventure in Marin County’s vibrant golf scene! Get ready to explore the fairways, traps and views of the best public golf courses....

Illustration by Cora Champommier
Paying the price of adopt vs. shop
Chloe Jennings May 23, 2024

The American population is becoming increasingly aware of ethical considerations around pets. Buying a pet from a breeder versus adopting a pet...

Being gifted is not a gift

Rory Gilmore used to be my idol. As the main character in the show “Gilmore Girls,” she seemed to have it all: the grades, the praise, the confidence. Rory Gilmore was a “gifted kid.” From a young age, she was reading Dostoevsky and Tolstoy and everyone believed she was a genius. However, for anyone who has seen the show, they know about her downfall. This constant admiration and approval from adults may have been the reason why she burnt out later in life. 

Illustration by Lauren Olsen

Believe it or not, Rory isn’t the only example of this. In fact, it’s so common that there’s a name for it: gifted kid syndrome. This term describes children who are labeled as “gifted” or “advanced” from a young age and placed into higher-level classes than their peers or given extra assignments and work to challenge them. Despite these seemingly overwhelming benefits, this experience isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. As someone who was given extra work and reading to challenge myself in school, I know firsthand the downsides that come with being labeled as “gifted.” Not only does this isolate you from your peers, but it makes them feel inferior, even if they are right where they need to be. 

Additionally, many once-gifted children now suffer from various mental illnesses. According to clinical psychologist Elke Van Hoof, 87 percent of gifted adults are considered highly sensitive people. This means that they are deeply sensitive to emotional, physical and social situations, which in turn can lead to anxiety, depression and more. 

Not only can this glorification of children’s abilities contribute to mental illness later in life, but the constant pressure to perform at a high level can make them feel the need to be perfect all the time. In the 2017-2018 California Healthy Kids Survey, 11th grade students at Redwood self-reported that 54 percent of them felt the pressure of high expectations in school from adults. This high-level pressure may lead to academic burnout, which is defined by the National Library of Medicine as “the feeling of exhaustion resulting from a compulsion for study, pessimism toward the assignments, and feeling incompetent as a student.” When students feel too much pressure from people like parents and teachers, their motivation for schoolwork can deplete significantly.

This pressure is not always from parents or teachers – a lot of the time the stress and anxiety that students feel to succeed is internalized pressure. Some people see this pressure as beneficial to students; the much-needed motivation for the newest generation to stop scrolling and start focusing. However, this is only true to a certain extent. It’s important to have motivation and drive – after all, no one ever succeeded without such things. But there’s a fine line between positive stress and negative stress, and when people begin to lean towards the latter, that’s when it can become detrimental to their mental health. Positive stress can act as a motivator, as according to the Harvard Business Review, “[Positive stress] unleashes positive motivation — because deep down we know that things that are important shouldn’t always come easy.” With too much pressure and stress from both outside sources and students themselves, it can become negative and pile up, becoming too much to handle. This is why it’s important to let students learn at their own pace and not force them to take on extra work or responsibility just because they can.

At the end of the day, all students go to school to learn. It shouldn’t matter who is naturally gifted or not and these disparities shouldn’t be made obvious to them at such young ages. In a world full of Rory Gilmores, it’s easy to get lost and feel the need to stand out, but it’s important to remember that everyone learns differently and these differences should be celebrated, not picked apart.

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About the Contributor
Maya Winger
Maya Winger, Senior Staff Writer
Maya Winger is a senior at Redwood High School and is a senior staff writer for the Bark. She enjoys listening to music, watching the sunset and spending time with friends and family.