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Harry Potter and the Gifted Family


If you are looking for a serious, well researched, scientific study of giftedness in family trees, you’ve taken a wrong turn at King’s Cross Station. Please check out “A review of research on parents and families of gifted children” instead.

But if you’ve ever stayed awake at night overanalyzing Harry Potter and wondering what J.K. Rowling might be saying about “giftedness”, then get your wands ready!

Let’s start with a vocabulary review, shall we? (Yes, Hermione, I realize you already know this.)

Wizard/Witch: A character in Harry Potter that can do magic.
Muggle: A character that cannot do magic.
Mudblood: A bad word for a witch or wizard born into a Muggle family.
Pure-blood: A wizard who has a purely magical heritage.
Half-blood: A wizard who has one parent who is Muggle and one parent who is magical.
Squib: A character born into a wizarding family that cannot do magic.

Now, some words from our own world:

Gifted: A loaded term, but usually meaning an IQ of 130 or above.
Neruotypical: A “normal”, healthy child.
Twice Exceptional: Gifted, but also has special needs. (Also called 2e.)

I’ve never been to Hogwarts but I did grow up in The San Diego Seminar Program for highly gifted kids. Now I’m a parent of a gifted child too. I’m also married in a family with experience in gifted-ed.

If we were a wizarding family, Slytherin snobs would probably accept us. (Actually, I know some Slytherins in real life. I met them in college.)

Of course, we’d much rather be placed in Gryffindor, Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff. That’s because various branches of our extended family include witches, wizards, Muggles, and gasp, Squibs.

Some of us went to college, some of us went to fancy colleges, and some of us are still working on graduating… Some of us know how to design stuff that goes into your camera, some of us can actually remember to bring that camera on vacation…

We all have our special abilities to admire.

Sometimes I think Muggle relatives have it easy. They get to cruise along in regular or honors classes, get invited to dances, and hang out with cool kids at lunch. Nobody in their crowd entertains people by reciting the first 21 digits of pi.

Ask the Muggle relation and she might say the opposite. “Just because you’re extra smart, it doesn’t mean you’re magic! Why are you wearing those robes? Ack! You’re so embarrassing!”

It’s no wonder Petunia and Lily Evans have issues.

Another problem wizarding families have is when a child is twice exceptional. Think about Ariana Dumbledore. She’s a witch, but she also had some magical control challenges.

Just like in real life, J.K. Rowling’s world doesn’t have an easy fit for Ariana. There is no 2e program at Howarts, so Ariana ends up being homeschooled. Sound familiar?

In my own life, I’m forever grateful that I grew up in the Seminar Program, and that my son’s school district has a gifted education program too.

The wonderful thing about public schools for gifted children is that ALL gifted children are included. There’s no Lucius Malfoy telling kids “You’re not wizard enough,” and only admitting pure-bloods.

It’s a different story at private schools for gifted youth. That 30K tuition keeps a lot of Hufflepuffs out.

Public school gifted programs are especially critical for Muggle-borns.

Because let’s face it, I’m going to make sure my kid passes his O.W.L.S. and N.E.W.T.S someday. “Been there, done that! Let’s get out my old potions book.”

But that Muggle-born witch from down the street? Her parents are new to this wizarding stuff. “Why are you so obsessed with owls? Would you please stop floating in the air! Hogwarts? Wouldn’t you be happier at your neighborhood school?” They love her, but it can be hard to understand what her brain needs to thrive.

Think about Hermione. What would have happened to her without Hogwarts? She would probably have gone to Muggle school and pretended like she couldn’t do magic.

I don’t have a magic wand. I don’t live in 12 Grimmauld Place either. There’s no family tree tapestry hanging on my wall, waiting to be smited.

But if there was, I could probably look at that family tree and tell you something special about each entry. It doesn’t matter if we are wizard, witch, Muggle, or Squib. We all weave together into one family.

That’s what’s magic.

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