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Hoagies' Blog Hop: Underachievers

Underachievers. Who are they? How do you identify them, or are you misidentifying them? What does underachievement mean to you? Is it the gifted child who refuses to achieve in school? Is it the child who writes amazing stories, perhaps books, but refuses to write his 5-paragraph essay homework? Is it the gifted adult who never got a college degree? The lawyer, a member of the bar, respected in their practice, who chooses to stay home and raise their children?

Once defined, what can you do as the parent of an underachiever? As the underachiever yourself? Read these great blogs to understand underachievement, and perhaps to find a few ideas, a few suggestions, a tidbit that will change the tide.

Don't miss our previous Blog Hops on related topics, including Anxiety and Executive Function.

To read all our past Blog Hops or join our next Blog Hop, visit Blog Hops for all our past and future topics. Special thanks to Pamela S. Ryan for our striking Blog Hop graphics!

When you don't live up to your potential by Jen, repurposed genealogy
My friend is a stay-at-home mom. She spends her time volunteering at her children's schools, and matching endless pairs of socks. She has a law degree from Duke. Another friend is a recovering addict with a rap sheet, seasonally employed as landscaper. He's a genius.

What happens when you don't live up to your potential? More importantly, how do you balance your idea of underachievement versus what the world, family members, or friends consider your potential as a gifted person? It isn't easy.

I've written about facing my own personal struggle with underachievement, and never having a college degree...

Beware of Underachievement in Successful Students by Jill Williford Wurman, Director of Research, The Grayson School
When we think of gifted underachievement, the example that springs to mind most readily is a student who is clearly capable of producing work of a remarkable quality, but who is simply refusing to engage at school. They are ostensibly doing the work but not actually putting in any significant effort. However, perhaps less obvious, yet all too common, is the successful, well-adjusted student that causes no worry or concern for their parents or teachers because their high grades and strong social skills make everything appear to be going swimmingly...

Do You Have a Rainforest Mind? Why Does it Matter? by Paula Prober, Your Rainforest Mind
What is a rainforest mind? Do you have one? Do you want one? Might it be better to have a meadow mind or a corn field mind? Simpler. Quieter. Predictable. Organized. Productive, but not overwhelmingly so. Beautiful, but not a sensory overload extravaganza.
Think about it. The rainforest. Your jungle mind. Overflowing with intense, lush, teeming life. Noisy. Dense. Diverse. Vibrant. Abundant. Sensitive. Resource-full. Majestic. Flamboyant. Rotting. Always in flux. Providing support for all beings on the planet.

I know that you might not feel majestic. Maybe you're not obviously flamboyant. Perhaps you have days when dense and rotting are the best descriptors. Maybe you're not supporting all beings on the planet. Yet...

Gifted Kids and the Rejection of External Motivation by Heather in WonderSchooling
Gifted kids are funny.

When they're motivated, personally invested in something, the sky is no longer the limit. These kids take off. They blow past our expectations and leave us in the dust, trying to figure out where they've gone. When they're not motivated, these kids are rocks. Boulders, actually. Immovable...

Other Achievement by Linda Wallin, Living with Geniuses
If you had asked me to write this post in 1989, I would have been much more prepared. I had a folder on “underachievement” about an inch thick because one of my children sometimes performed about four grade levels below his ability...

Understand why your child is underachieving by Gail Post in Gifted Challenges
Any child who struggles in school is a challenge and a heartbreak for parents. But when gifted children veer off-course, it can be especially troubling. We know what they are capable of, yet watch helplessly as they squander their talents and potential.
Underachievement springs from a variety of sources. You can't solve the problem without understanding its cause...

Underachievement: A Story in Process by Gift-Ed Connections
One of the great conundrums in gifted education, and in education in general, is the case of the underachiever. Why would an individual with so much potential choose not to achieve in school? They are certainly bright enough to see the advantages of achievement: social inclusion and acceptance, academic recognition, enhanced opportunities and eventual economic success. For those of us in education who regularly bear witness to the positive effects of school achievement, what appears to be the flagrant disregard of this by those who are capable can be perplexing...

Gifted Underachievers: A Contrarian Position or Two by Philobiblius
Things I know about gifted underachievers:...

Things I know about not helping gifted underachievers:...

What research tells us about the causes of underachievement among gifted students:...

What research tells us about helping gifted underachievers:...

Thanks a bunch, Josh. Now what should be do?

  1. Don’t blame your kid. There is a pretty good chance that if succeeding academically were a matter of volition, you would have a child who was succeeding academically.
  2. Don’t blame the school or yourselves at this point, either...
Underachievement and the Gifted Child by Caring for the Gifted Child
What does it mean to “underachieve?” In everyday vocabulary, we substitute the word “failure” for underachievement, and rarely, if ever, do we see the word underachieve in newspapers and magazines. How are we then to understand what it means to underachieve?

However, considering the intense perfectionism that drives Gifted Children, it seems appropriate to consider the notion of underachievement as it relates to this population with special needs. And, to consider it from the perspective of children.

Most often, Gifted Children are acutely aware of their perceived limits and shortcomings, especially when comparing their work with others who are more qualified, including adults...

To read all our past Blog Hops or join our next Blog Hop, visit Blog Hops for our past and future topics.  Special thanks to Pamela S. Ryan for our striking Blog Hop graphics!

Updated December 01, 2020

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