Perfectionism is a personality trait characterized by a person?s determination for faultlessness and

Perfectionism is a personality trait characterized by a person’s determination for faultlessness and a person’s will to set extremely high performance values. Many educators and parents view this as negative when their students or children must be perfectionists. Our society has even viewed perfectionism as a negative term. Research has stated that schools and educators have applied pressure to gifted students to attain high outcomes. Silverman stated students see that they are valued for what they do, not for who they are. I do believe educators, schools and parents have been guilty of this at some time in the student’s life.

Can a student’s perfectionism be turned into a pursuit of excellence? After reading the articles and viewing the power point, there is research that states students can channel their perfectionism into “pursuits of excellence”. With educators’ and parents’ help, we can help perfectionist children see that being a perfectionist is not a negative trait, but a positive one. Jack (made-up name), a former student, reminds me of Sherman in the case study article by Jill L. Adelson. Jack is a gifted student and a mathematical wizard. I worked with him in math groups to accelerate his math skills with above grade-level problem-solving tasks.

Often he would get so frustrated trying to solve a challenging word problem that he ended up wringing his hands, rocking his body against the table, and sometimes crying. Because he viewed math as his strength, when he was challenged in this subject and couldn’t solve a problem quickly, he often shut down and became frustrated. Although he considered himself a strong math student, he also read and comprehended above grade level. Yet, he perceived reading as being his weakness because learning math came so easy. (He saw reading as being hard. ) Before a reading benchmark he was already telling me he was not going to do well.

Like the article stated, Jack had negative perfectionism in his academic pursuits. Jack’s type of perfectionism was an Academic Achiever. Like Sherman and Ivan, Jack set unrealistic academic goals and placed more emphasis on the end product instead of his efforts. Jack needed to pursue excellence by being encouraged by his teachers. I tried to encourage Jack to focus on his efforts and hard work instead of his final grade. I explained that he was being challenged in math groups because of his math solving ability and that I did not expect him to know all the nswers. I tried to make him realize how happy it made me that he tried so hard. He needed to learn from his mistakes and not punish himself mentally and physically. I think Jack developed this need to be a perfectionist from outward influences from his peers, parents, and possibly, his teachers. His parents may model the need to be perfect and therefore Jack perceived this notion that he needed to be perfect in academics. Students know who the “smart kids” are in their class and they place them on an academic pedestal.

They know they will get the answer correct and often verbally point this out. Teachers are sometimes guilty of expecting their gifted students to know the correct answer and call on them more often. Perhaps, a previous teacher accidentally showed their disappointment when Jack was incorrect. There could be many other reasons Jack places so much pressure on his final grade and not his efforts. What is important is that Jack continues to be encouraged by his parents and educators that his pursuit of excellence is more important than the final grade.

Effort and belief in oneself is what makes a gifted student academically strong. Students who suffer from being a perfectionist need to know that they can’t control the outcome, they can only control their efforts and attitude while reaching that outcome. Classrooms need to encourage and maintain that “risk-taking” is positive and your effort and attitude is just as important as the final grade. With interventions, counseling, and encouragement from adults, negative perfectionism can be channeled into positive pursuits of excellence.