“Brilliant, yet challenged”. That is how Sameena Manasawala, a facilitator working in the area of giftedness for about 10 years, describes her association with a person from her college days. A man who both enamoured and confused her with his intelligence and emotional immaturity. “He was highly creative, was a voracious reader, and could converse with ease on a variety of topics from world history, politics, economics, and you name it. He had this ability to grasp any new idea or concept almost instantly and achieve mastery at it,” she says in this highly relevant TED talk. “But the same person had another side; he had the emotional sensitivity of a five-year-old… I constantly struggled to keep up with him”.
Manasawala then goes on to say that this intimate contact left her unsettled and, with time, she came across other such people who were brilliant in different fields: music, sports, or even mathematics. “And most of them struggled in connecting with people. What made these individuals different? They were all gifted,” she remarks.
Manasawala points out that a gifted individual is someone who has exceptional ability or potential, and that parents are the first ones to recognise this. “All children are curious, but gifted kids ask the most unusual questions,” she says, while highlighting the stories of some of the gifted kids and their journeys. While one child showed passion for astronomy, another practically taught her own self how to read. “If parents recognise this potential early on, these kids tend to be nurtured well. And if the school joins hands, then there is tremendous opportunity for them to grown and learn,” she says.
Manasawala also says that sometimes there is a complete mismatch between the gifted kid, the school and the family environment. For gifted kids, this mismatch can make them misfits. Some of them may even be labelled as ‘hyperactive’ or ‘disruptive’. Fast-forwarding a decade or two, this kid can grow up to be an unhappy adult.
A gifted kid is not just one who answers all the questions in class, but also one who is shy, day-dreams a lot, or even someone with a learning difficulty. “A gift is something you share. In fact, gifted individuals find the highest level of happiness in contributing to other’s lives and to the society… We need to mine these diamonds out, we them the cut and polish so that the light within shines through,” she concludes.
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