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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 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.
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      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?
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          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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