Saturday, May 03, 2014

The Gifted Label, Part II

A friend of mine commented regarding the Gifted Label, saying that she doesn't like labeling people, but prefers to label needs.   

I wrote this in response to her comment:  I have been thinking about your comment and its implications.  While it may semantically make a difference, I don't see that, in practice it makes much difference. "Children with learning disabilities" and "learning disabled children" seem remarkably similar to me. In addition, in the case of gifted children, labeling their needs is actually restrictive. Gifted children don't simply need extended curriculum, they need social and emotional support that isn't generally offered in any curricula.

In a way, I see it as analogous to the movement in the autistic community. At first, many people welcomed the designation of "person with autism", which emphasized the person first and the autism as a qualifier. But then a significant number of autistic people decided that their autism was so central to them as people that they would actually prefer to be labeled "autistic people". Their whole being needs to be interpreted through the lens of their autism.

Sure, gifted people have needs that can be labelled, but, for me, at least, there is a lot more to it than just the needs. It is acceptance of the whole person where the giftedness cannot be separated out from the whole.


Further thoughts/comments:
For most services offered in schools, we do not label the service, but we DO label the child.  He is ELL; she is LD.  They are deaf; they are BD.  

How could we label the needs of gifted children without labeling the child?  "Children who need extended curriculum"? - true, but not the whole story.  "Children who need emotional support for their advanced learning differences"? - also true, but the same type of problem that the word "gifted" has. Would it make a difference to label the service and not the child? 

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