This is such an important post for educators and the subjects of education alike.

I was singled out in an under-achieving comprehensive school as “gifted and talented” (the UK version of what you’ve described), but there wasn’t really any funding for poor kids like us to get special privileges or programs. Heading to university seven years later, and suddenly being surrounded by other people whose (predominantly private) schools had forked out huge amounts for their gifted and talented, I felt like a caveman surrounded by Enlightenment scholars. This feeling of inadequacy, having to financially support myself while also pushing myself to compete with my peers, had me at the edge of breaking point throughout the entire process.

Value categories like gifted and talented can be so toxic, and the after-effects last years. Since leaving university and making a go at a career outside the system, I’ve become fluent in two languages (Chinese and German), bought a house with money earned freelancing and started down the track towards a career in academia. And yet I STILL have a chip on my shoulder about not being good enough.

China specialist, feminist, political scientist in progress. Reviews, socialism & everyday academia. Low-brow, no jargon/acronyms. Editor of The Open Bookshelf.