I believe that we've reached a point where too often we are fetishizing intelligence for the sake of intelligence. And that is a disservice to children and young people.

I'll speak on it from my perspective as a highly gifted adult who is raising a DYS child. I see large differences between how I viewed my own intelligence as a child vs. how I teach my child to view his. As a child I viewed opportunities to demonstrate my intelligence as worthwhile in and of themselves. Complex math problems, coding, advanced classes, etc. They all served little purpose other than measuring sticks for my own ability. As an extension of this, I actively sought out such opportunities. But as noted elsewhere, as we move up the academic and professional food chain, we inevitably run into people who are also exceptionally bright and hit a point of diminishing returns on the value of pure intelligence in terms of our careers (well, for most careers, certainly not all).

By contrast, I teach my child to set goals that have nothing to do with being intrinsically intelligent. Sports, building things, etc. Being intelligent certainly makes those things easier but they're not dictated purely by raw intellectual ability, rather they're dictated by productive outcomes.

And I suspect that's a big part of the difference between those who feel a sense of accomplishment vs those who don't think they've amounted to much or met their potential. Because intellectual potential can never really be met. Our "potential" is infinite. OTOH, concrete goals are finite. And when we succeed at those goals, there is a satisfaction there that has nothing to do with our potential.

To bring it back to the elements of education and gifted children, I'm often unsure what the point of gifted education is, as currently practiced. It certainly attempts to separate out the smartest kids from the rest of the pack. But what does it teach them other than the idea that being smart somehow entitles them to more than other kids. The problem with that is that none of the kids in a gifted class did any work to earn that intelligence. It's intrinsic. And that means we run the risk of connecting intelligence with entitlement when the world doesn't work that way.

I see a lot of parents (myself included) make the mistake of looking at inclusion in things like gifted classes or acceptance into DYS or Mensa as some kind of accomplishment. It's not. Neither we, the parents, nor the children have done anything noteworthy to get into gifted programs, we've simply shown up and taken tests. But we discuss this simple accomplishment, taking a test and mailing in the result, as if we've cured cancer. We've produced nothing, we've only been measured.

If we condition our children to view this minor task of being measured as a determiner of their value then we run the risk of raising kids who don't know how to properly impact the world or how to properly measure their impact on it.

I'll use a simple example -- building a chair. We have an instructor teaching a room full of kids how to build a chair. Some kids are going to pick up the concepts much faster than other kids and probably finish their chair sooner because of it. But at the end of the day, so long as the chair is built, all of the kids have accomplished the same task and are worthy of the same praise. We have a problem when the kids who built their chair quickly and easily don't value their accomplishment because it was "too easy" intellectually. They want to build a more difficult chair. There's nothing wrong with that but it shouldn't come with a diminishment of the very real chair that they created. And there shouldn't be a diminishment of the other children's chairs because those kids needed more time to grasp the concepts.

I think there's a very difficult balance to strike there. When the scales tip too far in the direction of praising intelligence separate from a concrete accomplishment we risk teaching kids to devalue their worth because they're too busy chasing a "potential" that can never truly be met.

Probably not a perfect expression of my thoughts on the subject but enough for now.