where are the role models?

“To develop not just the physical ability but also the strategy to catch antelope in the wild, a cheetah must have antelopes to chase, room to chase them and a cheetah role model to show them how to do it. Without instruction and practice they are unlikely to be able to learn essential survival skills.”

From Stephanie Tolan’s classical debate article about gifted children, Is It a Cheetah?

The article continues:

“A recent nature documentary about cheetahs in lion country showed a curious fact of life in the wild. Lions kill cheetah cubs. They don’t eat them, they just kill them. In fact, they appear to work rather hard to find them in order to kill them (though cheetahs can’t possibly threaten the continued survival of lions). Is this maliciousness? Recreation? No one knows. We only know that lions do it. Cheetah mothers must hide their dens and go to great efforts to protect their cubs, coming and going from the den under deep cover or only in the dead of night or when lions are far away. Highly gifted children and their families often feel like cheetahs in lion country.

In some schools brilliant children are asked to do what they were never designed to do (like cheetahs asked to tear open a wildebeest hide with their claws — after all, the lions can do it!) while the attributes that are a natural aspect of unusual mental capacity — intensity, passion, high energy, independence, moral reasoning, curiosity, humor, unusual interests and insistence on truth and accuracy — are considered problems that need fixing.

Brilliant children may feel surrounded by lions who make fun of or shun them for their differences, who may even break their legs or drug them to keep them moving more slowly, in time with the lions’ pace. Is it any wonder they would try to escape; would put on a lion suit to keep from being noticed; would fight back?”

See also her other articles and the book (which I haven’t read yet, since I just found it when I was looking for the older articles that I read many years ago) Change Your Story, Change Your Life

“Cinderella not only knew somebody would want to dance with her, she dared to tell herself it could be the prince himself. After all, she was the hero and this was her story!

When she had to flee from the ball, Cinderella didn’t say, ‘See, this kind of thing always happens—just when the prince is getting to like me time runs out and I have to drag myself home with one glass slipper and one bare foot.’ No, she told herself that she had just had the most wonderful night of her life, and nobody could ever take it away from her. Later, when the prince comes around with the glass slipper, she demands to be allowed to try it on. Voila! Cinderella, with a little help from the allies she summons, creates her own happy ending.

Remind kids that just as they have their own story, so does everybody else. So if someone says, ‘You’re a scullery maid!’ (or a jerk) the kid can say, ‘That’s your story, not mine!’ “


UPDATE: the reason for this post was that I started to think about these things again, when a little interwebs drama developed in Swedish blogs as reaction to a stupid tv debate.

LInks: hello world , trolltyg #9 , hem till verkligheten ,
a shining light ,
internet hate machine , hunting grådvärgar