(Because the last post was essentially me at my whiny pathos-filled worst, which completely trashed the point I was trying to get across, I figured I’d rewrite it as a coherent, intelligent post. Friends don’t let friends post without sleep!)
I posted a while ago about why magnet schools matter, and I think it’s time for another example along those lines: CTY (Center for Talented Youth). It’s a summer program for 12-16 year olds run by Johns Hopkins that requires certain SAT scores to get in. There’re classes in a lot of different topics, both ones that would normally be done in high school and ones that you normally won’t see till college (logic, cog psych, ethics, existentialism, philosophy of mind, one site has neuroscience, etc). The classes are, in general, very well done, fun and, even for the very intelligent kids going there, challenging. Example: my logic class covered the equivalent of one and a half college semester courses. Oh, and we did it in three weeks.
Now, forget all about all of that, because it’s completely irrelevant. This post isn’t about challenging courses. It’s about people.
CTY’s a place where the top end of the ability curve can find a community. Unlike just about anywhere else, there’re lots of other people like you there. Any strange, obscure reference you make, probably at least 3 people in earshot will get. Any weird thought you have won’t seem all that weird to more than a few people present.
And the same goes for how you act. A lot of gifted kids are, let’s face it, pretty crazy sometimes. But that’s perfectly normal there. In fact, it becomes self reinforcing so that almost everyone acts even weirder than normal. And, because we’re all like that, it’s Ok! You get cheered on, not made fun of.
And by that same principal, because there’s a lot of the shared experience of being pretty lonely at home sometimes, people are very quick to form friendships, and just generally very accepting of and nice to each other. People understand, and so they accept. Most of us have a few friends who will do that so that we can be ourselves with them at home, but here for three weeks it’s like that with most people!
And that’s important. Being able to feel normal, even if only for three weeks, makes a huge difference to people. That’s true of everyone, but for most people it’s a lot easier to find. Since for us it isn’t, places where we can often end up feeling more like home than home does. I mean that seriously; I can’t remember who it was, but someone at my site said that when kids age out, it’s like being told they can’t come home anymore. That’s really true. That’s how it feels like to lose a place where you feel normal.
The point being, things that bring together gifted kids matter. They don’t just matter for the academic reasons, they matter for the human reasons. If you only truly got the chance to truly feel normal and just another part of the group for three weeks a year, how would you feel? Exactly. Support them. Organize them. Advocate for more of them. Don’t just help the middle feel better, help us too.
For any CTYers who may happen to be reading this, I love CTY, I love the Passionfruit, and I ❤ you all! “I like you, I love you, I CTY you, I miss you.”