We Don't Need to Change the Word "Gifted" To Change Hearts & Minds

In addition to being a homeschool parent and author, I also serve on the board of Gifted Homeschoolers Forum. In fact, that organization owns the press which published How to Work and Homeschool--because we know that parents of gifted kids are flocking to homeschooling out of dissatisfaction with modern public education and yet they still need to pay their bills.

It is for these reasons that I'm going to talk about an important word in this post: "gifted."

In the reaction this week to a post by Glennon at Momastery, there's been a lot of talk about changing the word "gifted" to make it more relatable to people who do not have family members in that demographic.

I totally get that impulse--but I have to ask: at what cost, with whom, how, and to what other name do we make the switch? If you think about it, it's a heavy cost as it would take time and resources from across multiple disciplines, draining valuable financial and human resources needed to SERVE these kids in cash-strapped non-profit and educational organizations around the globe.

I'm not opposed to changing the word, in principle, provided:

1. No children are neglected in the process because resources (including parental energies!) are rerouted to what is, in essence, a "rebranding" rather than actual help to the demographic;
2. Everyone agrees on what exactly we're defining and why;
3. Gifted kids and gifted adults have final say in what they will be called.

Yup. That's almost impossible.

It's easier however to do a grassroots campaign via social media that gets at the meaning of the words and changes hearts and minds about the lives, challenges, and loves of gifted people.

Therefore, I have a challenge to that end:

If you've been moved this week in the education and parenting blogosphere's reaction to Glennon's post and you now understand better the realities of gifted kids/people/learners, please share links to essays and posts that have moved you or deepened your understanding in your social media circles. (Good examples on the topic are here, here, and especially here.)

Argue in the real world for these kids to get the support and resources they need, please, in schools and communities, not simply type in a huff or exasperation in a comment that it's "time to change the word" and then wander off to another topic. Validate the gifted in your community. Seek to understand not to rebrand. Stand up to your first cousin who says snarky things like "All kids are gifted" when your second cousin talks about how her kid is struggling to find a good "fit" academically. Quit talking about changing words and be the change.

When we all get on the same page, work together to push back on bullying and relational aggression that plagues this demographic, and stop the silly idea that labeling one child "gifted" is a slight to anyone else in his or her school or community, then let's talk in earnest about a name change.

Until then?

The word should stand.

My original response to the Momastery post can be found at my main blog, RedWhiteandGrew.com.

6 comments:

  1. Thankyou for writing this Pamela. That is exactly what we need to do. I was trying to nut out how to say this - but you said it far more articulately than the mess in my head. Thankyou!

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    1. Aw, thanks. I struggled. Then I edited it after I posted because this is so very important, I needed to say it, and I worried about botching it up. Your comment is much appreciated.

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  2. Thank you. I cannot express enough how thankful I am for you and the handful of others who are publicly standing up for all of us with gifted children. The term is so loaded that my wife cried when our son was first tested as gifted as she knew that she could never tell any friends or family because of this attitude that 'all children are gifted' and so we have no right to talk to people about what our son needs.

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    1. Thank YOU for your comment and sharing that truth. If you'd like to talk further about bloggers who address this topic, please message me through the "Work with Me" tab or via my Facebook page. (See sidebar for FB.)

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  3. I agree with you, and I am having a hard time explaining it. (For me, in the context of offering different models of charter schools.) Your blog post helps me in my thinking, and I will share it around.

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