ANNA MARIA ROEPER
My name is Anna Maria Roeper, my last name is spelled R O E P E R . My affiliation with the gifted is that uh I I’ve spent many many years working for the gifted. After my affiliation with education before it’s been with the gifted I’ve worked with children and parents and teachers a truly all of my life because I grew up in my parents boarding school and so that I’ve been aware of education I’ve been I’ve been sort of steeped into education all of my life, and psychology.
Uh gifted and talented uh children that they’re children who I believe have evolved beyond other children and they have characteristics which make them act differently and make them make them experience the world in in much deeper and uh broader sense. They have a larger, a wider uh horizon than other children. Most of all gifted children are emotionally different from others. That is where I differ from many other people who talk about gifted children. But as this goes back to my philosophy that the difference that what makes human beings are their emotions in the first place, are their needs to fulfill their destiny, whether they are gifted or not. But the gifted take on the needs of the world, they are the w, through them because they uh understand more the and because they understand more they are so few more and they seem to be they lead us emotionally and this is where I differ. There’s a cognitive difference, they understand more, they know more, they learn more, and everything they learn creates an emotional reaction. Uh I think that one of the uh in some way they are meant to be our leaders but we don’t let them be our leaders. And the the they are the ones who understand a situation a problem more than others but they are not listened to and I really want to stress that I think that’s that’s my issue in life probably is to make the world understand the gifted because they understand the world.
We’re not serving the gifted well. We’re not serving any child well because we’re not basing our work with them on their needs. we’re basing our work with them on what we think our needs are. We are saying we’re serving the children but we’re serving ourselves and I think that’s where uh the problem comes in because what they need from us is total emotional acceptance in the very first place. They they sh they act differently from other children, they have many characteristics that even though we think it’s wonderful to be gifted but they uh uh over excitable, they are uh perfectionists, they see through us and many of us don’t like that. They have an enormous sense of justice, uh and they really do know something and they are I think de developmentally uh uh evolved in a way that other children are not. And uh I think this is a moment in history where they’re coming there are more and more gifted children, there are more and more highly gifted children, and they are asserting themselves uh what uh what I’m seeing today is that uh I think until very recently we really imposed our thinking on them and they felt squashed and and many many of the problems that occur come because they’re not allowed to express themselves. Which also means that all the wonderful things that are hidden in them we’ll never get to see. But recently my experience has been that uh they’re not taking it any more. And to mean I mean I I have a feeling that something happen right around the millennium somehow there’s been a shift among the adults and the children uh and I should say that I’m still working with children. I run a consultation service for gifted children. And what I’ve found is uh a great shift which occurred I would say around a year ago uh they are now saying we have certain needs and you need to help us fill them. Before their parents, when they come to my service, my consultation service, they us to say how can I make them adjust. I know he’s gifted I know he’s different, I’m afraid that he’ll suffer unless he becomes like everybody else. And that’s when use to limit them to such an extent that they felt suffocating. But now the parents say how can I where can I find the education that my child needs? and you ask me before what is it that we do need, they do need to be allowed to develop, uh we need to know much more about the psychology of gifted children. What I’ve said now is just a superficial uh telling you but there’s much more to be known about them. Uh and we need to accept them we need to also provide the kind of uh education for them that allows them to grow. First thing in that respect is a a a close relationship to a teacher to all teachers that where they are it’s the we need to allow the agenda of the child to come out and we need to listen to that. And create a kind of educational process that allows that. This does not mean that we should be totally permissive because we are these children don’t know what’s right for them and often they would stay in their own world but we should develop the kind of program that allows that kind of pro program that is not lock stepped that is not age bound that is not necessarily limited by the college expectations. But that there is open there is child is oriented to the needs of the child because I think there is other things uh uh if the act of the society’s needs were different from those of the child because society is self serving uh the real needs of the child are the same as the needs of society. But we need to redefine the needs of society.
I think the unspoken purpose of the gifted is to make us fulfill the promise that we give children when they are born. And the unspoken purpose of the gifted is to pronounce to to to realize the unspoken purpose of the world or of of our world, the human world. Um I think when a child is born in and and this is sort of interesting to me is that I feel that when a child is born we make a promise and we make the promise that we’re going to allow them to grow, him or her, so that they can really spread their wings, they can unfold like a flower does, but also that we create the kind of world that will allow him to live. And that promise we have never fulfilled. And I think it’s the gifted who remind us of that.
Well global awareness comes right from that same place that I was just talking, of yes doesn’t help (interruption) Global awareness is (cough) one of the most one of the uh ever present(interruption) Global awareness is the understanding of the of the independence of the of everything. And that is one thing that gifted children know and understand. They are they know that it’s not the hierachy that that really exists but that we all depend on each other, there’s no top and no bottom. And this is something that the gifted understand. Um there’s a sort of and an an an it includes not only the physical world but sort of the spiritual world, the whole feeling what the univer universe is something gifted children are very much aware of. In practical terms it means that they are aware of what happens in the world. Gifted children almost uh uh unless they have uh a very disturbed background and have to express themselves in hostile ways, are committed to peace because they because it’s the only reason they are way to feel. They uh are terribly aware e e e e e in more specific way um you can help them e in a less specific way and in our over all attitude but in a more specific way we need to um help them e e in a more specific way we need to be activist because children with parents as activists are less desperate. Many gifted children, especially the highly gifted, are very desperate. They can’t stand it that we go out and kill people. I can remember a 4 year old who couldn’t sleep for many many nights during the Gulf War because of what we were doing to those children in Iraq. It it he was so desperate uh and he dictated letters to the President and all that but none of that really helped him and it wasn’t concerned that he would be hurt but the injustice of it was so deeply felt and the adults go about their daily things without and and go on as though as though everything was still the same. I’ve seen many, uh where I live, there are many homeless people and they sit and reach(cough) reach out their cups and the adults have learned to act as if they weren’t there, there is a certain head movements that adults make when they um when they get near those people who try to to get help. The children are desperate about that. I know more children who want to give their Christmas presents away, I know more children who can’t stand it when we uh when we don’t help poor people, and there’s a big difference in the way they do it and in the way adults do it because it’s not charity for them. It’s not something that we because I have more can decide to let somebody have who’s less important than I am, he they the gifted have another fear of the world and that’s I think psychologically really there’s a development line that goes from loving your mother passionately to loving your lover and to loving the world.
I if I had my wish I would change the basic attitudes of human beings to see the world the way the way the highly gifted child does. Because what is really the problem is is our attitude not what actually happens.