Labels, judgments, and other things we don’t like to talk about…

Hey everyone! Today I want to share something a bit…controversial. Labels. Judgments. Preconceived ideas. And…

Prejudice.

As human beings, we like labels. We love to categorize things and put things into little boxes. We do it with things like colors (red, blue, green, yellow), letters, (a,b,c,d), and numbers (a,b,c,d). Labels help us organize our world and add a semblance of order on an otherwise chaotic world.

We like labeling things so much, that we also label people, ideas, and other intangibles, using words like good, bad, smart, dumb, right, wrong. These labels help us give meaning to things. And, as we have heard in other posts (including many authored by me), labels in education can drive services.

But guess what else is true about labels. Stigma. And prejudice.

The ugly side of labels.

Take a look at this video:

I wanted to share this with you and talk about labels because GT kids are labeled all the time. People make assumptions because of the label. Things like:

  • Smart kids never need help
  • GT kids can learn anywhere, so why are we pushing GT programs?
  • Parenting GT kids is easy

Or these indirectly related statements:

  • LD kids must NOT be gifted
  • Depression and anxiety are not influenced by giftedness
  • Emotional Intensity is not related to giftedness
  • If you are emotionally intense, you MUST have a mental health issue
  • If you have a mental health issue, you must be…crazy/broken/damaged
Yea, labels. They do serve a purpose. But, they also do harm.
So what are we to do? How do we harness the services labels sometimes drive, yet avoid the stigma and misinformation often associated with the very same labels. The key, I think, is to remember that people (and ideas, I would argue) do not tend to fit into neat little boxes. We are more like Venn diagrams, encompassing many labels, ideas, things. Furthermore, the stigma and preconceptions we hold on things are not always correct. They typically offer a specific point of view from a specific lens, so to speak. If we operate form a place of openness, we will see these series of overlapping labels and definitions for what they are – a place to start. Nothing more.
My advice – go deeper. Don’t ever accept the first meaning. Gain perspective.
Over the next couple of weeks I am going to cover different aspects of resiliency and gifted kids. In this conversation, I hope to bring to light some of the stigma and how we can move past our ideologies and into something deeper, and in the process, build resiliency.
Like I said in last week’s post, it’s time we move past our narrow points of view and embrace something greater.
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12 thoughts on “Labels, judgments, and other things we don’t like to talk about…

  1. I cannot wait to read more on this topic. Thank you for touching on it! Having two 2E kids, I know all to well about labels and the different reactions and misunderstandings that too often come with them.

    • I bet you do – this is so applicable with 2E kids as the mythology and misunderstandings seem to be even greater with this group of individuals

  2. Labels communicate ideas and concepts – both positive and negative. It is a base of information to create a better exchange. However the label never tells the whole story. Whether we are classifying plants or trying to describe conditions for people to then identify appropriate treatment. Delving deeper, looking at the whole person, are needed to integrate the beautiful complex facets together of unpolished diamonds. The light will sparkle and create rainbows with through the many faces of each individual person. Here’s to going beyond labels.

  3. Thank. You! Wonderful post. When my kids were small I read a book entitled “Raising your Spirited Child” and I appreciated the authors insight and perception of labels. I’ve been careful ever since to select my words with caution. I hope someday others will use that same caution.

  4. I fought the 2E label (more specifically displaying any hint of LD) because being tagged in my era with LD meant thrown in a box and never shown any advanced material ever again. That meant never asking for and always refusing help. It also meant that the teachers never asked for me to be helped because of the danger that I might get thrown out of the advanced track, which they didn’t want to have happen. It was a kind of don’t ask don’t tell.

  5. I am looking forward to reading more on this! We are so much more than labels used to describe us, and while labels can help to communicate, the poorly worded label can tear down.

  6. When it comes to children with special needs, the only positive reasons for a label can often mean the difference between receiving help, funding for help, or special understanding or consideration. Most of the time though it is ignorance that creates the boundaries more than the labels, yet unfortunately sometimes the reverse is true in that the only way to break down that ignorance is ‘to’ label. In other words you can’t change your attitude unless you acknowledge the difference and be prepared to accept that difference. Great article, I too look forward to the follow up articles.

    • So true re labels. The upcoming articles, all dealing with building resiliency, is one way to combat the more detrimental effects of the labels.

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