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Even Harder to Detect

March 12, 2018

To play up or buckle under?  Gifted children often decide on one response or the other, as they search for a place to belong.  In an interview with Kelly Higgins Devine, Sue Stevens explained that gifted children play up because they are bored; or they buckle under and submit by camouflaging their abilities, so they don’t stand out. To Sue, the second option is worse.



Bullying tactics, teasing, mockery and ostracism are triggers for these responses by gifted children.  The practices of Scottish gardeners tending the public parks puzzled Miraca Gross as a child.  She could not understand why they were ‘cutting down the tall tulips.’  Years later, as a teacher and academic working in gifted education, she was still troubled by “the tall poppy syndrome”; another reason for gifted children to hide.

What can be done?

  1. Stop the boredom blues.  Dr Jim Watters says, “All children should find it difficult to learn.”  To experience the joy of achieving, gifted children need to be challenged, according to their abilities.  They need to be given opportunities to show their brilliant behaviours.

  2. Develop a trusting environment, so gifted children understand who they are. Dr Linda Silverman says “Flexibility is key for acceptance”.

  3. Learn to appreciate growth.  Help gifted children learn the skill of self-referencing by comparing their own improvement over time, like Chadwick. 

To play up or buckle under?  Hopefully neither.  Hopefully, gifted children will find a place to be ‘comfortable in their own skin’.


Are the following statements True or False?

1. Cheetahs chirp and purr.     (T)    (F)

2. Cheetahs have a full set of teeth by 8 months of age.     (T)    (F)

3. Cheetahs primarily use their sense of smell to hunt.     (T)    (F)

4. Cheetahs live life ‘in the fast lane’.     (T)    (F)

5. Cheetahs have good night vision, like domestic cats.     (T)    (F)

6. Cheetah claws are like spikes on sports shoes.      (T)    (F)

7. Cheetahs often use a termite mound or tree stump to get a better view of their            surroundings.     (T)    (F)

8. Cheetahs only need to drink once a day.     (T)    (F)



ABC 612 Radio 1pm 10/10/2016.  Kelly Higgins-Devine interviewed Dr Linda Silverman and Sue Peters.  Sue Stevens QAGTC Brisbane West.  

ABC 612 Radio 1pm Tuesday, 26/09/17.  Katherine Feeney interviewed Dr Jim Watters, Adjunct Professor in Education, Queensland University of Technology.

Gross, M (1999).  Small poppies:  Highly gifted children in the early years.  Roeper Review, 21 (3) 207-214.

van Donge, Gloria (2017).  Custom Built.  See the templates in Children’s Choice.


Answers: Blog 8 – Chameleons – 1c, 2a, 3b, 4c & 4d


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