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Gifted Girl Anxious About Science and Math
Q: I am a gifted eighth-grade girl, and I've always heard about girls my age suddenly finding their grades and interest in math and science slipping. Now it's happening to me, and I'm worried! More than anything, it scares me that I could be less than exceptional. Is this common, and what can I do about it?
A: Some people believe that gifted adolescent girls lose interest in math and science because they choose not to compete with bright boys in those classes for social reasons. There is also the argument that girls are not interested in these areas because they have not grown up playing with numbers and spatial skill-developing hobbies (like building toys) the way many boys have. Advanced math and science requires less rote memorization and more complex analytical thinking, and it helps if you find this enjoyable (connected to hobbies, fun experiences, and the like).
What's your situation? If you truly like these subjects, then stick with them. Don't shy away from them just because there may not be many girls in the advanced classes. High school is a whole different situation than middle school. There are fun clubs for these subjects, and you may be able to find a super female teacher who can be a mentor to you in keeping your interests going.
Adolescence is always a time of changing interests. If you are simply finding you like other subjects better than math and science, that's perfectly okay. Just don't neglect them altogether or give up on them too soon because they are challenging. No one is totally exceptional in all learning areas, but you still sound exceptional to me by taking such a serious look at your learning at your age. Have you seen the book The Gifted Kids Survival Guide: A Teen Handbook by Galbraith & DeLisle? I think you would like it.
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Noreen Joslyn is a licensed independent social worker in the state of Ohio and is a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers. She has a master's degree in Social Work, specializing in family and children, from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a psychiatric social worker in private practice with Ken DeLuca, Ph.D. & Associates, where she counsels parents and children.