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Sonia Dabboussi

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If 'gifted' is a bad word, what term can we use to describe the highly intelligent and creative members of our societies?

The word 'gifted', technically meaning intellectual giftedness, has become a terribly misused term.

'GIfted' has been used to refer to anything from any kind of elitist, socially challenged group of people, to a type of characteristic of a person or object that varies even slightly from the norm.

Many intellectually gifted people refuse to attend gifted programs in their local schools because they don't want to be labeled with something so many people think to mean 'better than others'. Then they don't get the help or varied learning experiences they need to make the most of their abilities, and therefore in essence 'waste' their talents and skills that could so definitely be used by the world.

So what word can we use for the 'learning enabled' individuals so that they can feel confident in their strengths and abilities but still get the help they need? What kind of phrase can be used to refer to the gifted that everyone will find acceptable and satisfactory?

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    Mar 13 2011: Highly intelligent and creative members of society should be considered as being gifted.

    Designating children as being gifted has recently become problematic. A heavy dose of praise has lead to an increased level of narcissism and has resulted in a dependency upon constant praise and gratification. Commonly known as entitlement.

    Dr. Twenge of San Diego State University studied more than 16,400 students who took the Narcissistic Personality Inventory between 1982 and 2006. In 1982, only a third of the students scored above average on the test. Today that number is over 65%.

    Who would have thought that building self-esteem would have a downside. Grades have been inflated to match the inflated need for praise and stroking - for child and parent. Companies like Lands End and Bank of America have created "praise teams" to ensure their new employees receive the required daily dose of praise and congratulation. Without it, anxiety sets in.

    The constant stream of praise has resulted in what psychologist Dr. Linda Sapadin calls "a runaway inflation of speech." No girl is pretty: she's drop dead gorgeous. That guy is a genius (not merely bright). Dr. Sapadin says the word "nice" is a put-down.

    So now that everyone is gifted, is anyone gifted?
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    Mar 9 2011: In 1995, Bedford County, VA wanted to rename the Extended Curriculum Program to Talented & Gifted. Here's an editorial excerpt from then...

    "What will be the result of mere children carrying such a lofty title through their formative years? Arrogant adults is the answer. All of us can accept being different - for the very reason we all have talents and gifts. But no one will accept we're inferior. And this is precisely the problem, for calling impressionable little children by such a superior title will surely result in their believing they're better than others. The result of those childish conclusions? Lost friendships and lost opportunities are just two of the certainties. Ultimately, even happiness may be at stake."

    ....So the school board decided to have concerned parties vote. Every principle voted to keep Extended Curriculum Program and every coordinator voted for Talented & Gifted. The tie was decided by the Advisory Board (14 parents, all with kids in the program). Except for me and one other parent, all voted for the god-like description.

    This all goes to a point: Give up on an easily identifiable label and make it non-descript in spite of some parent's objections - which will never go away. You wouldn't call football teams the "real" men or cheerleaders the "real" women. G & T labels are just as asinine and you can't be timid about calling them out for it. Keep fighting for the sake of the children's long term mental health and good luck with a new name for your company and the programs you administer.

    On a side note, you stated: "Many... gifted people refuse to attend gifted programs... because they don't want to be labeled as "better than others" My experience was very different. Few were uncomfortable with the name and all attended. Mommy and Daddy wouldn't have it any other way, boasting to anyone they could corner, "Junior's in the Gifted and Talented program blah, blah, blah..." You need to admit to yourself how most of the parents really are.
    • Mar 9 2011: I appreciate the information you've shared here and your experiences as well. It seems like this is a subject you take significant interest in.

      I have two points to discuss further here:

      1. If you're suggesting to "Give up on an easily identifiable label and make it non-descript in spite of some parent's objections" then how would the needs of the gifted be addressed? If the name is watered down to mean nothing then I would guess that the assistance available to this group of people would eventually end up the same way as well. Perhaps not, but the possibility exists. So then what term is appropriate without being offensive? There must be one, or do we just have to work on the meaning we've associated with what we've already got?

      2. My point about gifted people not attending gifted programs because of the attached stigmas was more in reference to those who make their own decisions, or at least influence them greatly, when it comes to schooling. Of course many parents want to show that their kids are smart, but what do the kids, particularly the high school aged ones, think? Maybe in your area of the world is different, but I know of a lot of turmoil around the issue over here.
  • Mar 8 2011: Although the word & correct usage of the term has been co-opted and badly redefined, I think we're stuck with it. There have been many, many attempts to address this issue over the past century and it just doesn't work. This is what we have, and imo we're better off working to redefine it.

    Giftedness is a neurological condition - asynchronous development - and it includes a whole lot more than achievement. "Intellectual giftedness" is actually kind of meaningless, because either your brain is constructed differently or it's not, and the brain is not divided up into neat sections including "intellect", "artistic", math, reading, etc etc. (Not picking on anyone in particular, that's just my pet peeve.)

    Because giftedness is neurologically based, it is also closely linked with other nervous system asynchronies (allergies, asthma, sensory perception).

    if other children feel shortchanged, then perhaps the adults should rephrase what they have said. All children are gifts and all children do have gifts -- but they are not all gifted (neither are they all developmentally challenged).

    I think Debra has a lot of good points... and I apologize for the disjointedness of my comments. This is such a huge topic... It's difficult to draft any quick, simple reply. There are a lot of good articles addressing this issue at http://giftedhomeschoolers.org and at http://hoagiesgifted.org
    • Mar 10 2011: You make it sound as if we should call the gifted mutants. We are all asynchronus to some level.
      • Mar 11 2011: Actually, no, we aren't, unless you include the level of "0" in your range. There are many people who are in the middle ~68% of the bell curve in height, weight, IQ, emotional range, and a host of other areas.

        And there are many people who are, in fact, asynchronous, but not in the "older" direction. They are short or underweight or of lower intelligence or otherwise immature, while being apt for their age in the other realms.

        Suggesting there is a neurological difference is hardly the same as suggesting that we call the gifted mutants.

        However, we often treat them as if they are mutants - beings with no claim on services from our public schools and who should be punished for being who they are.
    • Mar 11 2011: "all children do have gifts -- but they are not all gifted (neither are they all developmentally challenged). "

      It depends on what you mean by gifts, I suppose.

      If you mean "areas in which they are more capable than 95% of the population," then I would have to say "No, not all children have gifts." All children have relative strengths, but it is possible for a child's absolute best area to be no better than average, if even.

      This is why they are not gifted.
      • Mar 11 2011: Sorry, I meant to say "all children are gifts" not "all children have gifts"... and yeah, I was using different meanings of the word "gifts"
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      Mar 11 2011: @Corin: Thank you for clarification.
      I read also here http://giftedkids.about.com/od/glossary/g/asynchronous.htm about "asynchronous development" and now I hope I understand better the "gifted" term used here.

      So, if "giftedness is neurologically based", what about autistic children?

      I watched Dr. Temple Grandin's TED talk and the movie about her life.
      Was she also a "gifted" child?
      • Mar 11 2011: I'm not Corin, but I play her on TV...

        Yes, I believe autism has a neurological basis - this is part of why the diagnosis is not supposed to be made without neurological data.

        And Temple Grandin most certainly was a gifted child - as are many autistic children.
        • Mar 11 2011: I'm not Josh, but I play him on the interwebz...

          Yes, of course autism spectrum disorders are neurologically based. The Dana Foundation can be a good source of autism research... they tend to public the latest on genetics, in particular.

          A person who is both gifted AND has another diagnosis (including autism) is considered "twice exceptional" or 2e. It is not uncommon - it is actually badly underdiagnosed, to the detriment of the children who are 2e and the adults they grow up to be. See 2enewsletter.com for more resources.
      • Mar 12 2011: The asynchronous development you're mentioning here is one of the reasons why the gifted need to be recognized in some way in order to help them find success in the best way they can. Just because they're 'smart' in one area or another doesn't mean that they can figure everything out on their own. They have their own challenges that they need help with, just like any other person has his/hers.

        Being gifted isn't easy. The gifted spend their lives out of sync with most of the rest of the people around them, which can be a difficult thing especially when they're young. In some ways they may be ahead of their peers and in other ways they may be behind. At times it's tough for them to find balance in their lives.

        This brief article, "GIftedness - It's All Starting to Make Sense" sheds a bit more light on the gifted and their diversity, and makes their situation a little easier for everyone to understand: http://giftedforlife.com/1064/giftedness-its-all-starting-to-make-sense/
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    Mar 9 2011: I realized that I buried my answer after the lengthy rant (between the asterisks) and that was: label the program not the children. This simple answer came from the kids themselves.

    ***
    How shall we refer to them?

    How about bored with the endless comparisons and the societal need to create hierarchies out of any and all differences found?

    How about tired of the peculiar convention of having to pretend not to know that they are intelligent when they spend a lifetime listening to people "discover" their intelligence and declare them "brilliant" (on top of the day-to-day experience of just finding certain things easier than others), which would pretty much mean they'd actually have to be idiots not to know.

    Or maybe we could call them: people who wish like hell other people had the same licence to pursue their goals and desires; to fail and be given a chance (i.e. the space and the faith of others) to work things out, and to be supported and accepted despite their quirks, if for the sole reason that we could then all understand that one person's capacity and self-confidence - or even arrogance - in no way diminishes others' capacity. In other words, were I to believe that I am awesome, it in no way would mean that I could not appreciate other people's awesomeness.

    As for becoming arrogant adults: hardly. No one knows more that this is just the brain configuration or circumstances with which they walked into this in life.

    (Also, our program was simply called the Autonomous Program. Then again, our school board did a really odd thing: they consulted the participants.)

    ***

    You'd be surprised by what children know that adults don't give them credit for knowing. They can distinguish the truly different from the better-adapted. "Gifted" programs usually pick the latter rendering them meaningless and unappealing. Not so much the Autonomous Program.
    • Mar 9 2011: Gisela, I think you might find it worthwhile to look into levels of giftedness. What you are saying has a lot of truth to it, but it would pull together better if it were better informed by the metrics and distinctions on that end of the (dare I say it?) bell curve. (And I use that term in a purely statistical sense) See http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/highly_profoundly.htm
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        Mar 9 2011: I'm not sure that anyone who has been given multiple IQ tests could not know about ceilings and ranges, actually. I remember thinking that it was odd that had I taken the same test the year before and answered the same questions correctly, my overall score would have been higher. I recall looking into it long ago, not finding much satisfactory information available to me at that point.

        Around the same time I took a fascination with reading about lives of "exceptional" people and often finding authors taking/imparting a sense of schadenfreude when they didn't "live up to their potential" or particularly, when they "went mad" in later life as though somehow it made up for this unfair advantage they had been given.

        I contrasted that with my own experience of it. From early on, I remember feeling slightly uncomfortable with being praised for what would be the equivalent of brushing your teeth. It often seemed disproportionate to the effort expended. At the same time, one of my earliest memories involves a sense of satisfaction in baffling my dad. In that one case, I had actually worked for that achievement. The idea that I should be smote for that - whether cosmically or by peers - really upset me in my teen years and I went through a phase of hiding it (*cough*cheer-leading*cough*).

        Fortunately (well, unfortunately for you and anyone else reading this), I am long past that point in my life and can rant about the experience with impunity ;-)

        At this juncture I am more interested the peculiarities of living it - what it gives you and what it means in terms of interactions with others. I am currently fascinated by the label "genius" - in all its usage forms - technically meaningless (or at least argued over) and yet having actual repercussions.
        • Mar 10 2011: Gisela, I am happy to say that the field of giftedness has evolved tremendously since your long ago forays. It still has room to go much further, but I think you will find a lot more of us who don't think in the same limited ways that the authors you read years ago think. The field is evolving, with (sometimes, although it still frustrates me!) a better understanding of giftedness as a neurological condition and the gifted person as a whole human being and not just a brain with an obligation to society. As I said, there is still a loooong way to go, but there is also visible progress.
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        Mar 10 2011: (It is annoying that this system only allows three levels of replies - this is actually addressed to your most recent reply.)

        I am glad to hear there have been changes. I think what surprised me is that during the testing and classification process that I went through, the people doing the processing didn't seem to have a clear grasp on the difference between emotional age and intelligence. On one hand, you are dealing with a child so there are definitely limits to how you can interact with them, but on the other hand, just because you think you are withholding information, doesn't mean we can't figure out what is happening.

        In the same vein (emotional vs intellectual age), if there is one thing I would advise parents of gifted children against, it's letting them read a biography of William James Sidis too early. Just because you can read something, doesn't mean you have the emotional wherewithal to process it critically.
        • Mar 11 2011: Intellect is proud it know so much and Wisdom is content to learn once more.
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    Mar 8 2011: In my field of early childhood education I have the mindset that,"It's not, 'How smart is the child?' It's 'How is the child smart?'"
    Living that mindset every day makes a huge difference in what I say, what I plan, how I react, etc. in the wild, untamed world of young children. Our job as educators is to tame the child just enough to focus their unique set of talents in such a way so that they connect to the world that needs them, and they it.
    • Mar 9 2011: Even in ECE, you must be aware that not all children are the same, and their developmental norms are also not all the same. As nice as the egalitarianist ideology may be, not all children are gifted, just as not all children are developmentally disabled. You can and do have children on both ends of the scale, and you can also have kids who are both gifted AND have LDs, a combination we call "twice exceptional" or 2e.
      • Mar 9 2011: I would add that the higher the IQ the greater the chances of having secondary or even tertiary special needs.
        • Mar 9 2011: Erika, that's exactly right. Thanks for adding that.
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          Mar 9 2011: This is where I would caution against buying into idea that high IQ must require some sacrifice in another sector. There is no single formula for what accompanies high IQ.

          (Hell, I was a gymnast and down played my intelligence in high school by being the cheer-leading captain.)
        • Mar 10 2011: Gisela, it's not buying in, it's a matter of understanding neuroscience and looking as statistical correlations. The brain is part of the nervous system, and giftedness has a lot of comorbidities - only some of which have anything to do with intelligence.
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          Mar 10 2011: Perhaps I worded that badly. There's a very fine line between genuine possible co-morbidities and expectations. There are already so many expectations placed on gifted kids, and many of them seem to be about some odd sense of balance - more a product of wishful thinking (that's not the exact concept I want there) than anything.

          It's like sufficient and necessary conditions. One MAY have these associated conditions, but one doesn't HAVE to. I think I just want to ensure that others aren't psychosomatically undermining themselves, or physically limiting themselves because the expectation is that weaknesses in other areas come along with the condition.
    • Mar 9 2011: Hello Jim and Corin,

      There may in fact be a range of specific ability, however Corin, if you dismiss Jim's statement as 'nice egalitarian ideology' you are missing a very important point.

      We do not need children that are all the same. We need individuals who through constructive (albeit sometimes unconventional) nurturing and guidance are encouraged to excel at their gifts (particular genius) and become self-actualized and productive citizens of the world.

      The best way I see of doing this is to use paradigms similar to what Jim mentioned. It is a much more therapeutic approach than labeling them 2e or expecting them to fail.
      • Mar 9 2011: Um... Wayne, there are so many problems with what you just wrote that I'm at a loss as to where to begin to respond.

        Regarding egalitarian ideology, some members of our society believe that all children have the same potential no matter what, and all they need is a little encouragement and they can achieve the same things. That is just plain wrong. While it is true that all children *deserve* encouragement for whatever their abilities, it is silly to think that they all have the same potential. We're not all going to be Wayne Gretzky no matter how much we practice hockey, and we're not all going to be able to use other aspects of our brain in the same way as our most gifted members of society, either. That doesn't mean we should not reach for our potential; it simply recognizes reasonable (and reachable) goals.

        Being 2e is in no way expecting someone to fail. Some of our most brilliant minds (and achievers) are 2e. Again, recognizing a difference in brain structure or capacity can *help* people find the ways that they learn best instead of setting them up to fail by insisting that, if they only try harder, they can be just like everyone else.

        After all, who wants to be just like everyone else?
        • Mar 10 2011: Perhaps, Corin, you should reread my post.

          "We do not need children that are all the same. We need individuals who through constructive (albeit sometimes unconventional) nurturing and guidance, are encouraged to excel at their gifts (particular genius) and become self-actualized and productive citizens of the world."

          I never made any "'silly" comments about anyone having " the same potential" or using "other aspects of [their] brain in the same way" as anyone else. Yes, there will always be someone better at something than you are, however, I also believe that those who reach for mediocrity usually fall short. So I prefer to encourage individuals, especially children, to find whatever it is they are good at and excel at it.

          What do you mean by "*deserve* encouragement"?

          I also never said being 2e spells failure. I said : "The best way I see of doing this is to use paradigms similar to what Jim mentioned. It is a much more therapeutic approach than labeling them 2e "or" expecting them to fail.

          Finally, redundance is relavent:

          "I said 'The plural of anecdote is data' some time in the 1969-70 academic year while teaching a graduate seminar at Stanford. The occasion was a student's dismissal of a simple factual statement--by another student or me--as a mere anecdote. The quotation was my rejoinder."

          The original quote by Raymond Wolfinger.
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    Mar 7 2011: Highly synaptically inter-connected... sorry doesn't quite roll off the tongue as well as "gifted." But it's probably a more accurate description of what is happening in the brain. It explains why some people have extraordinary creativity in some areas over others. When the connections are strong, they have quicker recall or response times.
  • Mar 13 2011: Can everyone say they think like Einstein? I would guess not. We can accept someone like Einstein as being gifted, but we have a much more difficult time accepting the person sitting beside us as being gifted. Why?
  • Mar 13 2011: When working on differentiation in our school, I've often heard teachers and staff use the term "accelerated" to designate students traditionally thought of as gifted. I prefer this term, it speaks to some students ability to move through curriculum quickly and work past their grade. Unlike the word "gifted," it does not indicate some students do possess academic gifts and some do not. I think we would all agree that each student has unique aptitudes and strengths (gifts), and Sir Robinson makes the case that our educational system squanders students' creativity and gifts while touting a few as gifted.

    All students have incredible potential, and all students, given the right teacher and materials, can grasp and attain understanding of curriculum. Some students progress through that curriculum more quickly, those students can be referred to accelerated.
    • Mar 13 2011: I like the term accelerated better then gifted. I think they need to improve on the term for those you are at the opposite end of the spectrum. I volunteered this fall at a middle school and the kids that were labeled lowest level figured why even try this is the best will ever get. There has to be better system in place, so this doesn't contiune to happen.
  • Mar 13 2011: Why don't we debate on the utilization of the word gifted to describe high peformers in sports! Douglas has quoted Kuiper's use of 'extra intelligent'. I've not read his article and he probably defines this concept well, however, doesn't it make cognitive ability simplistic like 'extra large' in clothing and food?

    Furthermore, as I stated in my book on intelligence and giftedness: "Intelligence has a universal appeal that has profound effects on people's perceptions, impressions and actions. It is interesting that, generally, we do not mind being compared to a friend, relative or acquaintance who is taller, smaller or fairer but we get offended when we are described as less intelligent than the person we know. We do not mind comparing our cars and computers with those of our friends but are not at ease with talking about the fact that some brains work faster and better than those of other people just like engines and microprocessors. Thus, you never are told “You're less intelligent than him/her” even if we know that intelligence manifests itself in some forms and expressions. We are more comfortable with expressions like “She has different talents." (Berthier, 2010).
  • Mar 9 2011: To be sure, I'm not a fan of the 'gifted' nomenclature. 'gifted' implies 'by God', and therefore it does not perfectly fit everyone's needs. My husband adds, "It implies that something is given with no expectation of return." This may very well be the source of charges of elitism.

    But unfortunately for the anti-label contingent, I can't call my kids BOB and expect them to receive the accommodation from the school board that they so desperately need.

    I wonder if the queer community has a body of literature that could be mined for the development and embracing of terminology that serves a genetic minority population. In common parlance we've recently embraced 'geek' and 'nerd'. As profs, we call our bright kids 'keeners'. But obviously these won't work for an identification and placement committee.

    On the other hand, perhaps we can embrace 'gifted' instead of running off to hide because it makes others feel bad. Advocate and educate the public that gifted = special needs, and that gifted kids are students who are at-risk without social interaction with like children and space to develop intellectually despite our frequently comorbid issues (ASD, emotional delays, depression, anxiety, ADHD, LD, and Tourette's to name a few that show up frequently.) The gay and lesbian population didn't run away from 'queer'. They educated and advocated, and they continue to do so quite effectively. It's a long road, and we may be shooting ourselves in the foot by abandoning it.
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      Mar 9 2011: At a certain point the label doesn't even matter. When it's not simply a matter of being "slightly ahead" of the class, or better equipped to handle a particular subject, the other students KNOW - and usually long before the teacher figures it out, unless they have the information handed to them from previous years. I remember standing in a yard of my new school, surrounded by grade 8 students asking me to spell things out of their text books and feeling slightly annoyed by the simplicity of the questions they were asking and wishing I could just go play. Fortunately or unfortunately, as a black child in a Catholic school in that neighbourhood of Toronto in that year I was already going to be "unusual".

      Left to their own devices, kids know and they don't care. The problem doesn't start until the adults get involved and start making distinctions. Going to an enriched or even full out autonomous program isn't the issue. It's the behaviour of the adults and perceived favouritism that they feel the need to "balance out".

      It's the adults who do not have the time and/or skills to recognize individual strengths and weaknesses that make the overlooked children jealous. Often, it's the adults' own jealousy that instigates and enables the problems between kids.

      It's not the program or the label at fault. It's the idea that there is a mythical swath of "normal" and anyone outside that must be placed either above or below, rather than accepting that everyone is different and has strengths and weaknesses. There is no "normal". The education system manages to fail everyone in their own unique way.
      • Mar 9 2011: I can understand your point of view, and agree with much of it, though my experience, my daughter's experience, and my father's experience have been a bit different. Left to our own devices our extreme boredom and the bullying that goes on (because oh yes, kids DO know) led each of us to dangerously low self esteem and extreme risk-seeking behavior including delinquent behaviors (you name it), life-threatening behaviors (you name it), and dropping out of school. For the sake of these kids identification and intervention is ideal at an early age.
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          Mar 9 2011: Oh, I totally understand the boredom and the dropping out. It took me five years before deciding to go to university after high school - much to my family's horror. I only went because I kept getting the same story about how *different* it would be- it's not like the rest of the education system at all. They painted such a picture that they may as well have thrown in that unicorns would come lie beside me as I wrote essays.

          Needless to say, I quit university before finishing (it was also the Great and Wonderful Tech Bubble where money rained down like cherry blossoms in spring).

          I only meant to say that my experience with the bullying didn't start until the school system clued in to the "gifted" factor. Prior to that, I was just odd, not somehow threatening.

          I was also lucky in that we moved often when I was small, so I learned to hide certain things - like not sticking your hand up too often.
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    Mar 9 2011: In his book “Enjoying the Gift of Being Uncommon,” Willem Kuipers uses the term eXtra intelligent (Xi) - which, as Linda Silverman notes in her Foreword, can also stand for eXtra intense. See more in my post The Gift of Being Uncommon
    http://highability.org/521/the-gift-of-being-uncommon/
    • Mar 12 2011: Then it seems natural that we should now refer to all Gifted Individuals as "X-Men", and rename all gifted programs, The Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters.

      Sorry that was an X-Men joke, excuse the off the wall humour typical with Gifteds.

      But actually, having a reference to the letter X seems cool / something that would help fight the Gifted Stigma.
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    Mar 9 2011: Gifted is a proper term. Problem arises when the term is dispensed randomly to a great number of average individuals. Educational Psychologists warn against setting unreasonable expectations on children.
  • Mar 9 2011: I have not done any research but I still suspect that those individuals we label gifted are simply those persons best suited to learn in the typical (particular or specific) educational environment.

    I believe that if we had a system with far greater resource, which was flexible enough to address the needs of a necessarily varied clientele which learn in different ways, we would not have children being left behind.
    • Mar 9 2011: I have done quite a bit of research, and I disagree... with a caveat. When you say "...those individuals we label gifted..." that is true - when you used the school based meaning of gifted. However, the term has, as I said previously, been co-opted by the education system to mean something else - something based on achievement rather than neurology. In fact, you can and do have gifted kids who do poorly in school, just as you have those children who are bright and work hard and do well in school, but are not actually gifted.
    • Mar 9 2011: Pretty much when you start your comment with "I have not done any research but..." you might as well stop.

      How do you explain those who are gifted but do not matriculate in the typical educational environment?
      • Mar 9 2011: Hello Corin and Holli,

        To elaborate, what I am saying is in agreement with you both.

        The system which is currently (and rightly so) under fire, was built to create cogs to fit the wheels of an industrialized machine. We were turning out 'perfect' copies of individuals "...based on achievement..." who are compliant and have specific skill sets, so as to bolster a system that we have come to know as pathologic.

        'Gifted' individuals who fit these criteria could find a home of sorts in this system. This did not however guarantee job satisfaction or fulfillment.

        Other individuals - those 'gifted' but for what ever reason resistant to inculcation, and the rest of us - became enigmas who "...do not matriculate in the typical educational environment.." or, in worse case scenarios ended up diagnosed with some NOS (not otherwise specified) mental illness.

        This is why I believe that if we had a system with far greater resources, which was flexible enough to address the needs of a necessarily varied clientele which learn in different ways, we would not have children being left behind. In fact I we might unlock all our gifts.

        Perhaps what is happening over the internet and its impact on our changing concept of education will help put all this right.
        • Mar 9 2011: There is quite a bit of a push in this direction, and I hope that it continues. My article in NAGC's Parenting for High Potential a few months back shows a model describing why mass education is not always the best place for gifted and 2e learners. Hence the need for Gifted Homeschoolers Forum.
      • Mar 9 2011: Sorry Holli, with humility I must say that I don't agree with your position, that someone who has not done the research can't have an opinion. Life teaches what I like to call uncommon sense.
        • Mar 9 2011: I think Holli's point is that the plural of anecdote is not data.
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    Mar 7 2011: I am not sure that the problem is the word 'gifted' itself but rather that it is too narrowly defined. We do not give children the opportunity to pursue the endowments of their brain unless it is in areas that business or academia deem to be important or productive. I once worked with a man who had been in a factory for 40 years and I never met a more gifted individual in my life. He was not all that lilterate but he was a savant in making the right tool to do a job in metal. We have others who, given the opportunity and the encouragement could be great dancers, or Cirque du Soleil like artisans, media artists, wood workers, healers with their ability to connect with the sick (and the list goes on) but until we use a Montessori like method and allow kids to follow the endowments of their own brains by connecting in virtual reality with others like themselves we are going to waste so much potential. Attending a gifted class is only stigmatized because all children are not exercising their own gifts.
  • Mar 13 2011: This is a reason why I love homeschooling b/c my kids don't have to be put into any particular box, not a grade level or group of friends or special program. I'm sure my 7 yo would test as 'gifted' in most areas, and delayed in others. I kn...ow that doesn't help the discussion. It's tricky, she'd *most* fit in with gifted kids. I like calling my kids spirited or highly aware. For adults, I prefer Highly Aware or Highly Perceptive. Doesn't really roll off the tongue though, as well as gifted. I always just thought of myself as "Different", not better not worse, just very aware that I was not like everyone around me. And I say it now with pride ♥
  • Mar 13 2011: When trying to find a word for “that”, be it “gifted,” “good,” or even nxlcskjalnriaautn, you are assuming that some children are intrinsically more capable than others. Ken refuses to use “gifted” and all other synonymous not because he wants to change the word, but because he denies differences are fundamental, intrinsic, or more then observation bias.

    You are assuming, explicitly, that there are “'learning enabled' individuals”; he disagrees, vigorously, with that assumption.
    • Mar 13 2011: There have been studies to suggest that giftedness may have roots in differences in hormonal exposure during fetal development. This article was posted just yesterday. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110311153549.htm

      Giftedness has also been correlated to physical brain differences, particularly those that relate to the frontal cortex. Here's a brief summary, but you'll be able to find other links a the bottom that provide more detail and give you a springboard for further investigation if you're interested: http://giftedforlife.com/1146/can-neuroscience-see-giftedness/
    • Mar 13 2011: I think that there is much yet to learn about giftedness, but it includes so much more than just being smart. It's more about the way these people look at and experience the world. Intensity and complexity, for example, are very common among the gifted, but these characteristics aren't always the focus of academic success.
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    Mar 12 2011: The problem is not in who is labelled gifted and who is not. The problem is that our schools and education systems are constructed in such a way to make goals and skills which are accessible to every person seem difficult and remote.

    Anyone can develop good reasoning skills and logical thinking. Having an innate predisposition only means you will develop those skills a lot more quickly. The problem is that schools place competitive emphasis on kids who pick up these skills and give them a special place in a class for gifted kids. This serves a very convenient illusion that gifted class is a seperate space in the hierarchy of education where only limited amount of kids are accepted. When other kids witness that the class has limited seats they instantly realize that there isn't a place for everyone to be gifted. That doesn't give you much of an incentive to try if you are one of those kids who may be struggling

    That's complete nonsense of course. I used to be one of those kids who was struggling and no one motivated me to try in fact my high school counselor told me to think about entering the work force after high school. That just annoyed, 10 years later here I am an honors student about to begin a PhD in biochemistry. And I did it all myself I started reading, I started writing I start showing an interest in education just to prove everyone else wrong.

    Schools are based on a competitive ideology that is exemplified at every level of Western society, starting with our schools and ending with universities and the work place. There simply isn't a place for everyone to be "gifted" because gifted people don't clean bathrooms and flip burgers. Top universities, laws schools and medical schools work on these similar principles. They have absurd requirements for admission just to establish a cut off so certain students don't get accepted. My opinion is let the gifted be gifted, but show others that there is achance for them as well.
    • Mar 13 2011: Wow, Budimir. it sounds as though you have a few misconceptions. It's a shame that you had 'guidance' that was inappropriate or provided by someone who misunderstood you and misunderstood giftedness. However, it's a bigger shame that you would want to prove your point by denying that understanding to others.

      Of course there are gifted people who clean bathrooms and flip burgers. There are people who are gifted... but are illiterate, or homeless, or have chosen to stay at home and raise their children. Giftedness is not about achievement or economic success, it is a neurological condition. Our education system has co-opted and redefined giftedness as something that is, essentially, a competition for seats based on unrelated criteria, but let's not let that blind us to what giftedness is and what it means to the children who are today where you were ten years ago. Should we deny their existence because you were not appropriately identified? You were hardly the only child to be misunderstood... now that we have better information, should we ignore it for our children simply out of the simmering resentment of our own unmet needs? Personally, I wold prefer to learn from it and do better for the next generation.
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        Mar 13 2011: But see I don`t wanna be identified as gifted, neither was I really a gifted kid. It was all effort that I took upon myself to do something more with my life. And believe it or not my IQ also went up by alot once I started educating myself. I am not making a case about people with particularly high IQs. I am making a case about our cultural definitions of what it means to be gifted or successful. I am just saying it`s not a special place reserved for the few, it`s in fact achievable by many. But schools in general work under a competitive premise where only the few are ``worthy`` of quality education. If the gifted is a definition reserved for those few, then I am sorry but I think that`s completely false. If we define the gifted as people with particularly high IQs then I have nothing against that.
        • Mar 13 2011: I think you are continuing to confuse giftedness with high achievement. There is not just a quantitative difference between the brains of people who are gifted or high achieving; there is a qualitative difference. You can be gifted and not be hard working, and you can be hard working and not be gifted. It's not about the end result, it's about the different learning (and thinking and feeling) needs of the person as a human being.
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        Mar 14 2011: Hmmm I didn't think I could comment once threads were closed.....good to know.

        Anyway I am not the one confusing these terms I believe the schools are. The schools provide gifted students with better quality education and invest more resources into them. I hardly get to make those decisions. I am just sitting back and commenting on them.

        The premise of this topic seems to be "if you are gifted, you deserve to be in the gifted class (better quality education)." I disgree with that. That's what I've been disagreeing with all along. I haven't been redefining the term, gifted. In fact in my first post I even said, let the gifted be gifted, but give everyone the education they deserve.
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    Mar 12 2011: The word 'gifted', technically meaning intellectual giftedness, has become a terribly misused term.
    How does intelectually gifted fall into learning disabled?
  • Mar 12 2011: Ah yes, the Gifted Stigma. "Gifted" isn't a bad word, but hypothetically if it were, I'd go with "A Gifted", or "Gifteds" to refer to those who actually are Intellectually Gifted Individuals.

    Cop out answer? Well, I don't feel that the word Gifted in it's current definition and lexicon will be evolving any time soon. I like "A Gifted" because it challenges those who will say it's grammatically incorrect, yet it still has the meaning and essence of defining Giftedness within it.

    Why is this topic even an issue? Stigma. Basically, Everyone is Gifted! Some people open the package earlier than others! Yay! Ugh. But, is everyone A Gifted? A Gifted, meaning An Intellectually Gifted Individual? No. In fact, Gifteds share the same things with Gifteds whether they have been labelled Gifted or not. So labels are not the be all end all with the Gifted nature. But it does help when trying to affix a name to a common experience.

    And just for clarification, Gifted Program, Gifted School, Gifted Label ≠ (necessarily) Gifted, Intellectually
    Gifted. Kids fall through cracks, parenthood politics get in the way, adolescents want to forget about it, government, economy, any factor can factor in.

    Then young adults grow up, and wonder what the fuck is wrong with them. Like this guy! What is underrated in the discussion of Gifted, is the mis-diagnosis of Gifted. Certain things can actually be attributed to Giftedness, yet is mis-diagnosed as something else. Which is why it's important to keep the term Gifted, because we need a term to revolve around, an umbrella to fall under.

    It is what it is, and we have to deal with it...

    Just to add a little context to what I am trying to get at,

    http://search.twitter.com/search?q=gifted And that's only 4 days worth of thoughts!

    More context: http://twitter.com/THE_REAL_GIFTED/favorites

    Shameless self promo: http://twitter.com/THE_REAL_GIFTED/
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    Mar 11 2011: Since I just came across this while searching something unrelated, I thought I might share it here with people who are interested in the phenomenon:

    University of Alberta researcher questions whether genius might be a result of hormonal influences

    "Mrazik, a professor in the Faculty of Education's educational psychology department, and a colleague from Rider University in the U.S., have published a paper in Roeper Review linking giftedness (having an IQ score of 130 or higher) to prenatal exposure of higher levels of testosterone. Mrazik hypothesizes that, in the same way that physical and cognitive deficiencies can be developed in utero, so, too, could similar exposure to this naturally occurring chemical result in giftedness."

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-03/uoa-uoa031111.php
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    Mar 10 2011: I read through the opinions and this is a great debate, very professional.

    I think that all children are somehow "gifted", so this "normal".
    The problem is that in most cases parents do not have the time and education systems do not have the skills to discover the "gift" for each child.
    I wish for a time when this debate will be useless :-)
    • Mar 11 2011: What makes you think that all children are "somehow "gifted""?

      All children have height. Not all children are tall (or short). All children have weight. Not all children are heavy (or light).

      All children have muscles. Not all children are strong (or weak).

      And there are children who are average to short, average to small, and average to weak, all at the same time. Some of those children will also be average to poor at math, science, English, languages, history, interpersonal relations, acting, painting, leading, and every other field of human endeavor and activity.

      All children have their areas of greatest strength - but that doesn't mean they are strong relative to other children in that area.
    • Mar 11 2011: All children are not gifted - not in the neurological sense. Neither are all children developmentally disabled. Human beings come in a range of abilities, and grouping all of us - including the outliers - together benefits no one.
  • Mar 9 2011: Building on what Josh Shaine said, I don't think the word is the problem. It's human nature being expressed in our connotations. Words take on emotion as it develops. Dumb, retarded, fat, gay...none of these words started out with the intense negative connotation that they have today. Do you know, dumb just means you can't talk? But people assumed if a person couldn't talk, they must not have fully functioning brains.
    The words used to describe children with learning disabilities has changed frequently and regularly pretty much since school was instituted, because they exist, and must be dealt with, but after a short time of discussing them, the social stigma of using that word becomes too great, and we must move on to a fresh one to avoid hurting feelings. It's nearly the same thing with gifted kids, only the stigma is on the--by default--non-gifted. Any discussion of anyone who could even slightly be considered "better" in any way directly implies then that there must be those who are "worse", and that is just unacceptable, especially to the parents of the latter group.
    I don't have a solution to this problem, but I'm not sure this is the correct problem to be addressing. What I've mentioned above is a general human condition issue. We are also currently in the midst of a wave of anti-intellectualism that glorifies ignorance and disdains intelligence and higher learning. I think it might be more apropos to address that problem.
  • Mar 9 2011: > The word 'gifted', technically meaning intellectual giftedness, has become a terribly misused term.

    I'm not sure that it is all that misused, to be honest. Intellectual giftedness is only one type, and while some people have kept it restricted to intellectual (or academic) applications, the term itself has been more broadly applied, whether in the report in the United States in 1972 from Marland or Thorndike's descriptions or a host of others.

    I've seldom hear it used for something "that varies even slightly from the norm."

    > Many intellectually gifted people refuse to attend gifted programs in their local schools because they don't want to be labeled with something so many people think to mean 'better than others'. Then they don't get the help or varied learning experiences they need to make the most of their abilities, and therefore in essence 'waste' their talents and skills that could so definitely be used by the world.

    Most schools don't have a gifted program. Most gifted programs are barely worth the word "program." Seldom would a gifted kid actually get the help or varied learning experiences there, either. But it is unclear to me what exactly constitutes waste - if a person chooses not to go off to save the world, but instead to be, say, a classroom teacher, are they wasting their abilities?

    > So what word can we use for the 'learning enabled' individuals so that they can feel confident in their strengths and abilities but still get the help they need? What kind of phrase can be used to refer to the gifted that everyone will find acceptable and satisfactory?

    Not going to happen. As I noted above, kids - and adults - can tell sharp kids from not-so-sharp kids with or without a label. Separation happens. Resentment happens. Even adulation happens. All with or without the label.

    Confidence in strengths and willingness to get support are different issues - but I can see that removing the stigma of advanced studies would help. Try full individualization.
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    Mar 8 2011: A good perspective on teaching children to be imaginative learners is David Whyte's, "A Teacher's Vocation". Very compatible with Ken Robinson's views... It's all about the teachers.
  • Mar 8 2011: Well maybe my tone came on as a little to extreme. Yes i agree that despite this, gifted kids should not be deprived of the extra attention and resources needed for them to unleash their potential. As a result, they would hopefully be able to in some significant way contribute to society in the future.
    Many education systems are currently are doing a very good job providing for both groups of kids.
    I brought up the earlier point about feeling shortchanged because in my country the education system has been filtering and streaming students from elementary school up to pre-University. Being part of an Asian culture, we are genetically pre-disposed if i may say to take rankings, streaming and how we are academically compared very seriously. In many cases it is also a matter of family pride. Due to all this pressure to preform up to standards (high standards), many kids tend to feel as if they are not intellectually apt enough to compete with the so called gifted kids.
    That is just one of the issues i had hoped to bring up with regards to my society.
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    Mar 8 2011: Faulty instrument of measurement. No term will ever be acceptable or satisfactory to all.
  • Mar 8 2011: When kids hear the idea of other kids being discovered as gifted, the word itself suggests to them that they have been shortchanged in life. This brings about insecurities at an early age which which may lead to kids being primed to believe that they are not intellectually capable. Harmful for a child's brain development i would say.
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      Mar 8 2011: Sanjay, I understand what you are suggesting and yet, what do we do with the extraordiary hunger for learning and knowledge that so called gifted kids have? Are we leaving some children without the proper nutrition in terms of brainfood so that others will not feel like they are less? Are we then starving our societies of some great minds? How do we meet each child's needs for both stimulation and for self esteem?
    • Mar 9 2011: In addition to what Debra said, the word is just not the problem. Kids have been taking umbrage at the unfairness of things for as long as we've had some kids who were sharper than others.

      Bullying takes place regardless of the label. Feelings of inadequacy, too. It's not the terminology.
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    Mar 7 2011: Gifted , is too singular, its sound nothing more then reading a mark twain novel and nothing else. Gifted means they are yet or never have been profound. I suppose when they make a name for themselves you will call them Mike or John.