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Back to school for the square pegs

By Anne Carmichael

Community columnist

When I was in school all those eons ago, Mother told me to pay attention and get good grades. That’s what mothers say. It’s their job. As much as I hated hearing it when I was on the receiving end, I went on to repeat the mantra to my own kids.

Gifted and creative individuals struggle within the confines of the academic system. They are square pegs, desperately trying to fit into the round hole whose name is conformity.

More often than not creative people find it nearly impossible to focus on what they consider to be the mundane. We are the daydreamers. We bore easily and tend to focus only on that which interests us. We want only to give our gifts free reign and expression.

When I was student in the 50’s and 60’s, there were very few concessions for the creative student. Oh, you could add electives such as drama and art, but you still had to pass the required subjects such as math and science. 

Math in particular just did not ‘compute’ in my left-brained mind. It was only when we were given compasses and  colored pencils in Geometry that they succeeded in gaining my attention.  

I took a few business courses, such as typing and shorthand, but once again, my creativity was stifled .I was told I must stay within the rudiments of stenography as outlined by some guy named Gregg who wrote the textbook, rather than designing my own more artistic flourishes. I argued (and still contend) that as long as I translated  verbatim,  how I achieved it was of no concern. The teacher disagreed.

Today, there are specialized private schools that cater to gifted students in various arts, but  financial considerations, the processes of audition, and eligibility requirements are prohibitive for many students and their parents.

If you have a creative person in your life, my deepest sympathies. I understand that we’re not easy to live with. We’re moody, often introverted, and we oscillate between brazenness and braggadocio. 

We will sit and ponder and daydream for hours; but then we’ll astound you with an outpouring of our love for life. I assure you, our passion will far outshine the self-deprecating, dark periods, if only you are patient.

My best advice to those of you who face the challenges of nurturing a creative individual in your life is just to love us through the dark times and appreciate the glow of the shining good times. 

Work closely with your child’s teachers and school administrators. Seek outlets for their special skills. Your patience, acceptance, and efforts will be rewarded many times over.