What’s in a name

I sat down to write this post over the weekend and received a surprise gift – A comment from a former student that reminded me why I love working with children. Here is a little taste of her incredible insight (and yes, she is still a student – in high school)

There really isn’t a lot of material like this (book) out there, and parents of gifted children can feel overwhelmed. Even more so, it becomes alienation. The kid can’t relate to the parent and the parent doesn’t understand their child.

Amazing!

Anyways, back on topic…giftedness.

It’s a term that means so many different things to so many different people.

For some it is a label used to describe a specific group with a specific set of characteristics. For others it is an elitist term that segregates kids.

Regardless of where you fall in the debate, few can deny the rush of emotions that tends to occur whenever gifted and gifted education is mentioned – emotions that fuel the myths surrounding giftedness and take away from the very real issues faces this unique population.

So, how do we solve this? How do we educate others on the true needs of gifted children without sounding pretentious? Is it all about the term? Really?

I have heard in #gtchat conversations on twitter, in conversations amongst writers, and in conversations with educators, a reluctance to use the term giftedness and the need for a new label for these children. Some have tried “advanced learner” or “academically advanced”.

These are inadequate, in my opinion, as they speak only to one aspect of giftedness – and not necessarily a universal aspect. Such a label further justifies many of the myths surrounding giftedness and does nothing to speak to the intensity of both thought and emotion that is such an integral part of what it means to be gifted.

So what other term should be used? What other label captures the full meaning of giftedness – the cognitive and emotional intensity, the passion, the asynchronous development?

I have to admit, I don’t have an answer. So I am turning to all of you. What do you think? Is there a label that can capture the essence of giftedness without inflaming others and perpetuating the mythology that downplays their needs and hurts this group of kids?

5 thoughts on “What’s in a name

  1. Benoit

    Why not naming all the others “slow-processors” ?😉

    As I’ve already answered to this label question, in France, some use “zebra”. But the more common is HP, for High Potential.

  2. Leah

    I like Benoit’s suggestion – HP. Is there someone it could be named after, who has done more for understanding giftedness than any other? Like Aspergers is named after Asperger. Or is there something that could indicate how they think and learn differently, like big picture thinkers (but more succint)? I like HP because it indicates their abilities more and doesn’t necessarily deny their ‘issues’.

  3. Pingback: What's in a name « An Intense Life | Gifted | Scoop.it

  4. I vote they don’t need a name or a label, because such things only encourage fear or misunderstanding, when in reality, everyone on the planet is very, very different, and that’s as we’re meant to be. Phenomenally different. That’s our gift, IMO. Great post!

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