Why Not “Gifted”?
The decision to name this blog “High Ability” and not “A Gifted Fill-In-The-Blank Blog” was a deliberate one. As a communications professional I have long argued that the terms “Gifted and Talented” mislead teachers, parents and students alike. I do not like the terms because they imply privilege. I do not like to use them because they can and often do cause an unnecessarily hostile response from people who do not understand that high ability is a condition – a trait – a cognitive function – and not an undeserved present bestowed upon middle class children whose parents over-stimulate them with Mozart and Legos.
High ability is a measurable cognitive ability to process information more quickly than the average person. It transcends demographics and gender. It allows some children and adults to master concepts and skills faster than their age or work peers. Brain synapses fire more rapidly. It is considered to be a gift because students with high ability generally perform well on tests and in school with little effort. But the further away from the median IQ of 100 a high ability student is, the more difficult it is for them to learn in the typical American education environment – whether public or private. And the longer a high ability student remains in an unchallenging learning environment, the less likely he or she will be to develop to their true potential.
I believe that if we remove the emotionally charged language from the discussion – we have a better chance of having our voices be heard and these children will stand a better chance of having their needs met in our schools and universities.