[personal profile] philobiblius
The literature on giftedness, what it is, how to raise and/or teach and/or counsel these children, is fairly extensive. It goes back more than 100 years ago, and about 90 years ago, they had a pretty good idea of what worked and what didn't.

Doesn't mean that they did it at any point in the intervening years or that there are many places doing it now. Merely that the failure to do it well is from a failure to do one of a few things: 1) Research; 2) Believe what you read; 3) Learn from your mistakes.

This is the generous view of it...

On the fictional side of things, there are only so many plots that are out there.

The first breakout is that you have one gifted kid or you have a bunch of them. The Odd Johns of the world - both IRL and fiction - are plentiful. The groups are less common, excepting only the super hero genre of comic books and novelizations.

Wilmar Shiras wrote about Children of the Atom years before the X-Men (or the Tomorrow People) came into being. A brilliant boy doesn't quite fit in without calling attention to himself and gets found out by a psychologist. Together, they seek out more like him, find them, and pull them together, only to discover that society is not ready for these kids to be working together. But, they are good kids, and want to make the world a better place.

Stephanie Tolan's Welcome to the Ark tells a similar tale, though there is more to these children than just intelligence.

The X-Men are mutants and, originally, gifted youngsters who need to learn to use their powers. The bigotry against them, as mutants, is usually blind and without regard to circumstance. It doesn't help that not all mutants are altruistic. Some are 'merely' self-serving and/or opportunists. Some have the urge to dominate and control others. Some just want to tear things down.

This, then is the crux of the issue: How do we know that if we have kids with these powers, that they will use them for the good of humanity, or at least our nation?

John Brunner's Children of the Thunder asks that question and suggests that not only do we not know it, but that if there are some of these kids with noble objectives and others with more self-centered goals, that all other things being equal, the negative approach will win out.

There is another wringer to be tossed in here - perhaps the most common type of tale that explores this stuff even slightly seriously. What if the institution that is training the children is corrupt, regardless of the original plan? John Brunner addressed this before he looked at the other - an individual gifted person, escaped from his school where he felt he was mistreated. Much of the novel is spend following our protagonist as he eludes capture in a world made up of plug in employees. (Shockwave Rider - Editor)

Jarod, in The Pretender, a TC series, has a remarkably similar path - escaping from The Center and adopting a variety of guises and careers to find out about his background while being a do-gooder everywhere he goes.

James Patterson's Maximum Ride series takes the perfidy of mad scientists and the evil institution and combines them with kids who are not merely gifted in their thinking. They have wings - and they have escaped from The School, whose owners and directors do NOT have the kids' best interests at heart.
*******

But in many ways, the questions asked, the puzzles shown, are consistent from book to book and show to show. How alone am I? How do I connect with others? If I run, where will I run too? What happens when my friends discover just how weird I really am?

Why am I so alone? And often, What is wrong with me?
******

(originally written Jan. 12th, 2008)

Postscript: This whole topic deserves a longer look. In addition to the titles/topics above, there is the counterpart to Xavier's School for Gifted Children, called Massachusetts Academy, where the Hellfire Club trained its future members (or cannon fodder). An interesting counter to the X-Men version of things is Aaron Williams' PS238, the School for Metaprodigy Children and its internal counter, Praetorian Academy. Also worth a look, at least briefly, is the movie Sky High.
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