“Gifted” in areas, needing help in others.

This post directly follows my last post relating to the experiences that I had attending secondary school.

However, this post, as with the last one, focuses on experiences of mine attending high school.

I was enrolled in my school’s gifted and talented program in second grade, and chose to quit it during grade eleven when my history teacher made some ableist remarks in the classroom one day about how the “smart students should only (associate) with each other, and not the normal students”. He made it clear when he said those things that he meant them, and he made it a point to look at me when he was saying them. I didn’t feel comfortable continuing to be part of a program that prioritized cohesiveness based on one’s perceived intelligence, made that abundantly clear as I quit the program, and had the backing and support of both of my parents, who were appalled that a teacher involved in the program was using the platform to disseminate views like this (“even if he was joking”… although no, it did not seem like he was actually joking).

As I went through the process of quitting the gifted and talented program, it came up that I had been struggling in math for years based on my grades and self-attestation, and I had asked if there were any supports that could be given to me to better help me understand material that I struggled with. The school actually had the audacity to tell me that since I had tested into the gifted and talented curriculum, I “didn’t need (those) supports and services,” pointed out that I had not actually failed any math courses, and furthermore, had the audacity to tell me that they would refuse to provide me with any supports and services relating to my struggles in math even though my grades made it clear that I struggled with my understanding of the material in comparison to the other core subjects, which I excelled in. This was around when I realized that because the school “saw” me as gifted, they weren’t actually going to assist me in any area in which I struggled because they would fall back on the fact that I had, at least for a long stretch of time, been enrolled in the gifted and talented program. This was actually a regret of my mother’s — she would later tell me that if she had known that this would cause so many problems, especially as it related to the fact that it would take me all the way until college statistics and algebra to gain a sufficient understanding of mathematics, one that I should have gained while I was still in secondary school, and if I was going to be exposed to these blatant ableist ideologies as a result of my parents consenting to allowing me to be involved in the gifted and talented program, my parents would never have consented to allow me to be a part of the program in the first place. And to be frank, I can see why my mother said what she said.

My entire time spent in secondary school left a lot to be desired overall, especially for reasons like this.

At the time, I didn’t know that what the school did was actually illegal — even if a student demonstrates sufficient understanding, or mastery, in one or more core subjects but struggles immensely in another, they are to be offered appropriate supports and services to help them achieve mastery. “Being a part of the gifted and talented program at one point” does not prevent the school from offering these supports and services.

I did not have any idea that there was even a thing called dyscalculia until I was in college, and that’s sad.

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