Smart kid

If, theoretically, you had a gifted child—someone who could solve problems mentally, without pen and paper; who already knew calculus before her classmates could even read or write—would you hide her under the radar or let the entire world know about her? Would you send her to a normal school or enroll her to prestigious institutions, where she can be mentored by the world’s best?

I’m asking these questions because I had just watched Gifted. Nothing is spectacular about it, story-wise—it was as predictable as Maalala Mo Kaya episodes in ABS–CBN—except that I really, thoroughly enjoyed it.

To see a kid get bored by one-plus-one drills in class; standing up for a bullied classmate by smashing the nose of the bully; keeping quiet in moments when her intellect is called for, just because her uncle had advised her to keep her mouth shut lest she look like a smartass—that was fun. She is an adult trapped in a kid's body, but a kid, nevertheless. Who is this toothless kid? I love her. (I searched: her name is McKenna Grace).

Later we learn that she’s the daughter of a brilliant mathematician who had committed suicide, just around the time when she was at the brink of finding the solution to one of the world’s seven biggest mathematical problems. Why did she take her life? Could it have been because of the pressures of her grandmother—a classy, British mathematician herself who believes that the gift, the almost-superhuman ability to make sense of numbers and theories, must be shared and not hidden from the world?

(You should read “Battle Hymn of The Tiger Mother” by Amy Chua.)

Help me make sense, too, of why her uncle, who wanted to shield her from the public and offer her a normal childhood, would pick a freelance job of fixing boats in Florida over a teaching, probably tenured, job in a prestigious university. That doesn’t sound wise to me, and if my parents had seen the film, they’d probably think it’s stupid—and quite unusual, too.

Could it be that living a “normal life”—however you define it—may actually be overrated?

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