Toronto Mike

The Gifted Program

The Barenaked Ladies have been the topic of many conversations this past week, so it's no surprise their reuniting for the Juno Awards came up in last Friday's Open Mike. Commenter mrmojorisica linked to this video featuring interviews with Steven Page and Ed Robertson.

There it was, a quote from Ed Robertson that triggered a primary school memory. Here's the line I completely related to.

We were in this gifted program together, and I always felt like I was there by mistake.

Here's what I remember... I remember a series of standardized tests in grade three. Then, more tests. These were one-on-one tests where the examiner would present problem solving puzzles, have me put pictures in the correct order, and ask a hundred other such questions. I just did what I was told.

The end result was the gifted program. Starting in grade five, one day a week I would hop on a bus and subway and make my way to a school near Bathurst station. I did this for four years. I honestly never felt I had a choice. They told me where I was supposed to be and that's where I went.

I felt the way Ed Robertson felt for the entire four years. I was in this program with the school board's brightest students and I always felt I was there by mistake. These kids were geniuses, your classic eggheads, and I felt like an imposter.

I understand why the gifted program would be perceived as a good idea, but I despised the segregation. Kids in your regular class resented the fact you got a day off and were treated special. I despised the attention.

In grade nine, I was still told to show up for the program, but after the first meeting I asked if I could opt out, was told I could, and promptly did exactly that.

It's funny how you could spend one day a week for four years in a program and completely suppress the memory until you watch a feature on the Barenaked Ladies and it all comes flooding back.

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