Would you push a child prodigy to their full potential or would you let them just be a kid? The upcoming film Gifted explores this question, with Mary, played by McKenna Grace, a child genius with a massive gift for mathematics. When her mother passes away, she's forced to acclimate to a new living situation, with her uncle, played by Chris Evans, taking on the parental role and trying to figure out how to handle her unique gift. It's a compelling story, but is Mary from Gifted a real person?
The film itself is not based on real people, but Mary's narrative might be very familiar for the three to five million K-12 students in the United States who are deemed "gifted", according to National Association for Gifted Students. Because of these kids' ability to learn at a faster pace and in more depth, their parents are presented with opportunities to enroll them in enrichment programs that have modified training for gifted students, a topic explored in depth in the new film.
Whether gifted children should be put in education acceleration programs or be placed in regular programs is a hot topic of debate, and there's no easy answer. Socializing with your peers is a crucial part of development, and some parents might worry that by putting their kids in gifted programs, they're depriving them of that option. But according to the Gifted Development Center, gifted kids can still experience positive social development by way of praise and involvement with family members, which allows them to build self-confidence and better handle themselves in social environments as adults.
The decision to place a child in an accelerated program is a tough one, and Gifted dives deep into this issue. It may not be the first piece of pop culture to deal with that subject matter —Finding Forrester and Little Man Tate come to mind — but it'll likely start a new discussion on the topic for viewers when it hits theaters this month.