There's a new program which was introduced into an Alberta elementary school where kids as young as seven-years-old will be able to choose a "major" or specialized stream of learning, based on their very well-developed areas of interest.
Unless they have a category called "Watching the Transformers Movie for the 1002nd Time," I'm thinking my own child wouldn't qualify for this program.
In fact, the four areas of discipline they are identifying are the arts, scientific inquiry, sports, and humanitarian/environment. I'm all for advancing the way that kids learn and letting them excel at what they're really good at, but at this young age I'm just wondering what specific traits a child might display in order to have them placed in one of these four streams. Here are my suggestions for the evaluators in what to look for in a "gifted" child in each area:
1) The Arts: Has a natural ability to spatter ketchup in such a manner so as to not only hit every stainable surface within a 25-foot range, but also the creative thought process involved in ensuring that the trajectory will include a sibling, elderly relative and a small dog. Additionally, the child may display the ability to write his/her own name in permanent ink on a variety of textures and surfaces, including painted walls, toy cars, leather couches, and the aforementioned small dog.
2) Scientific Inquiry: Must ask "Why?" and "What's the point of that?" a minimum of 117 times an hour. A true inquiring mind inquires only, and takes no interest in any attempted answer by the askee. For added suitability, candidate may also show an uncanny ability to determine the only method in existence to get his sizable head stuck in stair railings, open a milk bag in a clever and scientifically impossible manner, and cut his/her own hair while running with the scissors they are using to do so.
3) Sports: No matter what the placement of the soccer ball, football or plastic bottle full of water, has the ability to drop kick it right into Daddy's groin, every single time. Another handy trait they might have is the ability to race across a tiled kitchen surface, only to lose his/her balance at the precise moment that Mom has walked into the room carrying her glass of merlot, resplendent against the bright white hue of her new "good" blouse.
4) Humanitarian/Environment: On the humanitarian side, upon occasion, the child can walk past a sibling without uttering the word "freak" or punching, poking, kicking, jabbing or inflicting other general unpleasantness on them. Is interested in saving the world and the environment we live in by wearing the same articles of clothing for at least three days, as well as not littering the Earth with treasures found within his/her own nose, and by choosing conspicuous consumption for that particular by-product.
The problem with trying to exploit your child's "natural" abilities in helping them to choose a suitable career path is that no sooner do you put an end to one "strength" ("You really hurt Daddy that time, honey"), then they develop another to take its place ("How exactly did you get that Lego man in your ear in the first place?").
Kathy Buckworth's latest book, "Shut Up and Eat: Tales of Chicken, Children and Chardonnay" is available at bookstores everywhere. Visit www.kathybuckworth.com or follow Kathy on Twitter at www.twitter.com/kathybuckworth.