My relationship with intelligence has always been a rocky one. Anyone who knows me will say “Jo is very intelligent but has no common-sense” or one employer said “you are way beyond your time, you are extremely visionary” (me: “how do you spell practise is it with a ‘c’ or an ‘s’ – have to google it every time!).
From as far back as I can remember, I was always in reading recovery. You know, when you are taken out of the classroom to read with other kids who can’t read too (and everyone in the class knows you are going out because you can’t read – if that’s not a self of esteem killer, who knows what is?!). We sat in a circle and tried to read allowed. I remember I always went last. By the time it got to me, I was listening to everyone else struggling to read a sentence, even if I knew previously how to read the sentence, I now definitely had no idea with all the ‘umms, moos, baarrrks’. I grew up in a small beach town South of Sydney which was predominantly Anglo-Saxon. I was the only one with an ‘ethnic’ surname. So of course, I wouldn’t be able to read. (Btw – both my parents were born in Australia, my mum’s grandparents were English and my Dad’s were Maltese) so I was hardly ‘ethnic’ but hey go figure, it was the 80s). So from the get go, academia was never something I excelled in my school reports. My year 3 teacher wrote on my report card “Joanne will never be academic, but she is very bubbly and popular”. Talk about a mood killer. Kill. Me. Now. So let’s just say, I was never really encouraged or shall I say expected by my teachers to ever achieve academically. Anyone who knows a gifted child or teaches one knows their social & emotional needs are critical for their success and wellbeing. Umm, that memo some how got lost on the ferry or in the sea water at my school. Thanks so much beachy primary for teaching me how to be the best colour-in-er & for later making me realise when I went to university that fractions really aren’t just pies (hold on, who are we kidding, I still sometimes have to think really hard about the difference between a quarter and third!).
So as you can see, school was pretty shitty for me from the beginning and continued throughout my high school years. Except when I walked into my year 7 Japanese class (of course 7.4 – the class which they often referred to as “no need to help this class, they will be lucky if they even make year 10”) Dead. Serious. Teachers said that at my school. So a foreign language – Jo, you so are going to excel (said no teacher ever). But this teacher was different. She believed in me (remember a huge thing for gifted kids). Learning was fun – for once. But mainly I felt like I was given a second chance. We all started learning something new, from the beginning again (like when you first start to read). I got my first test back and I got 100%. Then the next one – 100. Next one, yep – 100 too. To cut it short, from Year 7 – 12 (spoiler alert: I did make it past year 10. Go. Figure) I averaged 100% in nearly every assessment – I was super shitty if I got 98% or worst 90%. This teacher really turned things around for me. She simply believed in me & then just nurtured my ability. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely more ‘talented’ apposed to ‘gifted’ because I had to and still have to work my ass off. So by the time year 8 came around, I had moved from 7.4 to 7.1 – every subject I improved in (so I went from dumbass to pin-head) What does that even mean?! So when year 12 rolled around, I scored equal with another student & received Dux of the school. Only 2-3 of us went to university. 👊🏼 Hey, year 3 teacher, your right – I’m bubbly and popular but soooo academic too 😉 … I went on to complete my Bachelor of Arts (majoring in communications and marketing), then my Masters in Teaching (graduating with exemplary and receiving target teacher status) and then went on to do a Masters in Religious Education.
So here’s to you – shitty primary school, early-on-set-dementia my ass neurologist, educators that are ignorant to the needs of gifted students and you, yes you LYME DISEASE.brain.cell.stealer! I so just kicked your ass!