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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: 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).

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