Columbus Cheetah, Myth Buster – Myth 10

In line with his New Year resolution, that in 2014 he will increase his efforts to bust the myths surrounding giftedness and advocate for acceleration and ability grouping opportunities for gifted students, and in preparation for a webinar and Global GT chat on Twitter for the next two weeks, Columbus Cheetah is updating his myth busting presentations.

Columbus Cheetah’s discussion of the myths surrounding giftedness are based in his own brand of cheetah logic and the wonderful analogy of the cheetah to the gifted person given in Stephanie Tolan’s wonderful article ‘Is it a Cheetah?’


Columbus Cheetah says at first glance this myth, like Myth 4, is a generalization and can be answered in a similar way.
Some parents are pushy and some are not and likewise some parents of gifted students are pushy and some are not.

But this myth is also part of several other myths.


Sometimes it is used in conjunction with Myth 7

It is often assumed that if the child is gifted it is because the parents had flash carded them to within an inch of their life while they were still in the cradle.
But Columbus Cheetah has already busted that particular myth in


Sometimes parents of gifted are considered pushy because they make other people feel uncomfortable because they are intense, sensitive and passionate.


Columbus Cheetah says these are common attributes of gifted people.

Cheetah logic says:
The apple does not fall far from the tree
Cheetah cubs are the offspring of cheetahs
It is very likely that gifted students have gifted parents
And if being intense, sensitive and passionate are common attributes of gifted people it is quite likely that parents of gifted could be intense, sensitive and passionate.
But it is not only gifted people or parents of gifted people that can be intense, sensitive and passionate.
And being intense, sensitive and passionate does not necessarily equate with being pushy.


Sometimes parents of gifted are considered pushy because they are
perceived to be demanding when they seek to have their children’s needs met.


As we saw in Myth 1 the cheetah population is very low in numbers because of the combination of a very limited gene pool, environmental issues and failure to compete with other carnivorous species.
The limited gene pool means that because of inbreeding the rate of genetic birth  defects and infant mortality is high.
Very few cheetahs are born in captivity.
Columbus Cheetah says that in the wild mama cheetahs are usually good mothers. They do all that they can to keep their offspring safe and provide for their needs and teach them the skills they will need to survive.
They recognise and try to meet the particular needs of cheetahs which may not be the same as the needs of other species.


Most humans are good parents. They do all that they can to keep their offspring safe and provide for their needs and arrange for them to receive an education that will prepare them well for life. Every child has the right to an education which meets their needs.

Like the cheetah, the gifted are a minority group in the population. Very often the physical and social environments favoured by the general population are not ideal for the gifted and their educational needs are not the same.
As we saw in Myth 9 special education for gifted students is not about giving extra – it is about giving suitable provisions for all students and therefore gifted students
receiving the educational provisions such as acceleration or extension that
they need.

In fact as the Columbus Group 1991 definition of giftedness says


So when the parents of gifted students ask for a suitable education for their children they are asking for them to be recognized as gifted and for provisions which will meet their needs which may not be the same as the needs of other students.
They are asking for their children to be given the opportunity to work in the flow, in the eyebrow crinkle zone, to learn at the level, pace and depth which suits their abilities and to have the experience of spending time with true peers rather than age peers.

If other parents are not considered pushy when asking for their children’s needs to be met, why should the parents of gifted be considered pushy when they ask for their children’s needs to be met?




When extended family don’t get giftedness


This week on Global #gtchat on Twitter powered by Texas Association for Gifted and Talented  we will be discussing “When extended family members don’t get giftedness” and criticize every aspect of parenting gifted children.

Thinking about the topic made me think about the Tweet family’s Great Aunt Hashtag. Great Aunt Hashtag was undermining Tweet and Retweet’s confidence in their parenting by criticizing Retweet’s nest cleaning and food preparation methods and was completely unsympathetic with Tweetelle’s dietary concerns
She did not recognize and value Tweetelle’s art work.

She certainly did not understand the Tweetlets sensitivities and overexcitabilities and accused Retweet of over stimulating them; although she was unwittingly contributing to the stress levels  and causing Tweetelle to have nightmares
She believed that all Tweetlets should be seen and not heard should be treated as they were ‘in HER day’ and kept quiet by filling them with food and singing banal nesty rhymes to them!

She tried to influence family decisions regarding the Tweetlets’ choice of school  and definitely did not approve or support their decision to homeschool using NEST Ed

To Great Aunt Hashtag the Tweetlets seemed so strange that she suggested maybe they were cuckoo chicks which had been put into the Tweet family nest.

We have seen the effects of Great Aunt Hashtag’s interference but we have not really seen any suggestions for deflecting it or coping with it.
Tweet and Retweet are sure to find some helpful suggestions during the Twitter  #gtchat session.

Gtchat provides an outlet for the gifted community to network and discuss relevant topics each week. During the 24 hour interval including a recent week’s chat, over 100 participants posted tweets from 25 states in the U.S. and from 12 countries. See

To read summaries and transcripts of past  #gtchat sessions see the Global #gtchat blog at
and to continue the discussions on Facebook see!/gtchatmod?fref=ts   

Tweetelle becomes a seedetarian

I omitted to mention another incident that occurred during Great Aunt Hashtag’s second visit to the Tweet family.

Twitter birds are generally omnivorous. Tweetil always had a healthy appetite and Tweet worked hard to bring home enough food to satisfy him. Tweetelle, on the other hand, was always a bit finicky and some days would only accept food of a certain colour.

Determined to teach Retweet how to prepare appetising meals, Great Aunt Hashtag brought with her the raw ingredients for her famous caterpillar ragout.

Tweetelle and the caterpillar came face to face and Tweetelle was delighted, thinking that Great Aunt Hashtag had brought a pet for her.
“Ooh, it is so cute and fuzzy!” chirped Tweetelle.

The Tweetlets had never given any thought to where their food originated; so this revelation was a real shock for Tweetelle.

She offended Great Aunt Hashtag by refusing to eat the caterpillar ragout and declared to Retweet that she only wanted to eat seeds from now on.

In MY day reprise


“You are overstimulating those Tweetlets” declared Great Aunt Hashtag.
“Their behaviour is simply atrocious – like a pair of galahs!
In MY day we kept Tweetlets quiet and filled them with food and lulled them with Nesty Rhymes until their wings were ready for flight; then we pushed them over the edge of the nest and some of them survived. It’s called Natural Selection!”

Tweetelle started to cry.

“Stop blubbering, chickee!” said Great Aunt Hashtag “Retweet, you need to be firmer with those Tweetlets. You don’t want people to think they came out of a bad egg!”

It was not long after Great Aunt Hashtag’s visit that Tweetelle began having nightmares and being sure that there was a monster lurking in the bottom of the nest, ready to spring up when she least expected it, to select her and push her over the edge.
She said it looked like a mean jack in a box bird and it was called THE NATRAL.

Retweet organised  glow worm night lights for the Tweetlets and booked a nest visit appointment with the Psych Owl ogist

Marking time to the beat of their own drum

Tweet and Retweet followed the advice of the Infant Welfare sister and sought to provide enrichment activities for the Tweetlets.
They hired some musical instruments to see whether the Tweetlets would enjoy playing before investing large amounts on purchasing instruments.

And they set up a telescope for stargazing and an easel for painting which Tweetelle really enjoyed using.

But Tweetil kept on squawking “I’m bored! I want to go out and bounce with the dog!”
(The bouncing dog was Psycho Motor Dabrowski who was very eager to see the Tweetlets flying and came and bounced at the foot of the tree every day.)

So Arachnid installed a mini trampoline inside the nest.

The Flight 101 theory lessons continued and arts and crafts were incorporated.
They made leaf planes and seed helicopters and watched them fly. Tweetelle loved making leaf planes and even painted them different colours so they could play ‘See whose plane flies further’.

But Tweetil just wanted to fly himself!

Friends who visited the Tweet family during this time were very critical of the Tweets’ parenting. Some accused them of being ‘helicopter parents’ and hovering around their Tweetlets all the time like hummingbirds at a flower. Others accused them of ‘hot-housing’ and said that they were pushing the Tweetlets too hard.
Tweet and Retweet were filled with dread when Great Aunt Hashtag notified them of her intention to pay them another visit.

They replicated Galileo’s experiment by dropping seeds and nuts and feathers of different sizes and weights from the nest to learn about gravity and terminal velocity.

Psycho Motor Dabrowski suggested to Tweetil that the Galileo experiments could be made more interesting and enjoyable by aiming to hit a specific target with the nuts.
“You get one point for hitting that leaf, five points for it landing in a puddle,” said Psycho Motor “fifty points if it lands in a puddle and splashes someone and one hundred points if you can splash the old bird with the walking frame!”

You don’t need to be Imaginational Dabrowski to guess what happened next!

Flight School hits the Asynchrony speed bump

The Tweetlets were moving rapidly through the theory sections of Flight 101 and Arachnid  had set up the Web for them. But they were not having much success with the practical exercises.
They had mastered Flap – Flap – Flap but were not able to get enough power to get any lift when they jumped. (The course notes advised that they should only practice Flap – Flap – Jump inside the nest until they could get enough lift to Feel the Thermal and until they had covered Landing Procedures.)

Retweet was very concerned that the Tweetlets had reached a plateau and were not progressing and consulted the Maternal and Infant Welfare sister. She was surprised to find that the Tweetlets were in fact ahead of the expected development in several areas.
But the wise sister advised that the Tweetlets’ wing feathers were not yet sufficiently developed to allow flight. She informed Retweet that most Tweetlets that age had not even started the Flight 101 subject and were still listening to Nesty Rhymes. She was concerned to know whether the Tweetlets knew the most common Nesty Rhyme

Twitter, twitter little bird
How I wonder what you’ve heard
Sitting in your cosy nest
Eating food that you like best
Twitter, twitter little bird
How I wonder what you’ve heard

Retweet assured the wise sister that she and Tweet had sung the Nesty Rhymes to the Tweetlets often in the past when the Tweetlets could not go to sleep; and that they not only knew the rhymes but had grown so tired of hearing them that they had invented their own variations of them.

Twitter, twitter little bird
Let me tell you what I heard
Beyond the nest a world awaits
With wondrous sights and prospect gates
Twitter, twitter little bird
Let me tell you what I heard.

The wise sister expressed concern that singing variations of the Nesty Rhymes without sufficient repetition of the original and without authorisation from the education authorities  would cause confusion for the Tweetlets and that at least 10 repetitions were needed for mastery.
Retweet said that she thought the Tweetlets were quite bright because they had been able to recite the original after hearing it only two times and became bored with it after five repetitions.

Fortunately the wise sister was familiar with the notion that very young Tweetlets could already be displaying signs of giftedness and gave Retweet an article titled Bright versus Gifted from  to read.

She also stressed the Asynchronous Development of the gifted and cautioned that the Tweetlets may be physically unable to put into practice the things they were able to understand. Only time would provide the growth and development of their flight feathers which would to allow them to fly.

In the meantime the wise sister suggested perhaps they could provide some musical enhancement opportunities for the Tweetlets.

Nappies on Tweetlets

“How long will the Tweetlets be wearing nappies?” Sprite asked me.

My first thought was to reply “As long as they look cute wearing them!”

But then I realised it was a very good question which raised a number of issues and my quick flippant response was not a very satisfactory answer.

It begged the question “Why do the Tweetlets wear nappies anyway?”
Answer 1: “Because it looks cute and shows that they are the baby birds.”
Answer 2: “For the same reason as adult Twitter birds wear Easter bonnets and Melbourne Cup Day hats and fascinators”

And, of course, that line of questioning led us straight back to our discussion of anthropomorphism which began with Sprite’s question “Is Babar supposed to be an elephant? See Elephants in the Waiting Room

The second line of thought was ‘I could use this question as a starter for a discussion about toilet training and give some useful references to parenting blogs, such as Raising Children Network’
and also Sue Larkey’s Toilet Training Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

This second line of thought also brought to mind the asynchronous development of gifted children and these excellent articles on the subject

Davidson Institute for Talent Development article
Martha Morelock Giftedness the view from within

SENG article
Asynchronous Development by Jean Goerss

Giftedness as asynchronous development by Stephanie Tolan

And the third issue that Sprite’s question raised was that of the depiction of the passage of time (or lack of it) in Sprite’s Site blog.
We have celebrated the wedding of Tweet and Retweet and now seen them lay egglets and hatch the Tweetlets, Tweetil and Tweetelle. And presumably we will follow the progress of the Tweetlets as they learn to fly and then as they fly away on migrations.
Sprite’s appearance has changed a little during the last three years; but that is mainly due to variation in the drawing and in the tools I am using to create the images.
Sprite’s age does not change; despite the fact that the blog has celebrated two birthdays
She has always been the same undisclosed age and she is always depicted as having an injured left ankle and needing to wear different shoes on each foot to illustrate the concept that she needs different educational provisions for both her giftedness and her disability
So how do I reconcile the lack of consistency? Some characters on Sprite’s Site grow and change and some do not.
And how long will the Tweetlets be wearing nappies?