Why the Word “Gifted” Still Matters

Why the Word Gifted Still Matters by Pamela Price for Gifted Homeschoolers ForumPhoto and styling credit to my son.

This post is part of the September 2014 Gifted Homeschoolers Forum blog hop. Details are at the end of the post.


One word.*

Many nuances.

Depending upon with whom you are speaking, “gifted” can be about intellectual ability. Or a collection of talents or traits. Or both.

The slippage around the word in educational circles is maddening.

Yet we need the word. We need the word,and we need to explore all of its connotations and denotations.

We need the word until we, as a culture, can see the distinct and varied permutations of human intellectual difference without feeling fear, threat, or envy for those whom the word “gifted” fits.

Gifted advocates need the word in order to articulate the real and profound challenges faced by kids in classrooms driven by standardized testing, places where these children struggle to maintain their intellectual curiosity.

Therapists, doctors and parents need the word in order to find common ground so that they can address the unique socio-emotional concerns that affect kids with high IQs who are as different from “normal” as those children deemed “mentally retarded.” (Both are identified as having IQs at least two standard deviations from the mean.)

Gifted kids themselves—and adults, too—need the word to understand that their sense of being “different” is, while legitimate, not a matter of superiority but rather indicative of a precious complexity waiting to be nurtured carefully into something rich and meaningful and satisfying. We need the word as long as there are kids who taunt 2E kids struggling with socio-emotional challenges, calling out “If you’re such a smarty, then why can’t you [fill-in-the-blank]?!?!”  We need the word to help members of the gifted community who, due to their hypersensitivities and asynchronous development, may be at greater risk for suicide or, at a minimum, suicidal ideation. We need it for kids like Cassie and others who seek comfort through harmful addictions.

Gifted matters because giftedness matters.

No one would dare deny a “special word” to designate children at the opposite end of the spectrum of human intelligence. Why, oh, why is it still socially acceptable for prominent public intellectuals to question publicly the use of a distinctive word for kids with high IQs? Such behavior is just one more manifestation of our cultural inclination to “cut down the tall poppies” or reach for a convenient cliche to dismiss differences. More than that, our refusal to push back collectively on such ignorance validates the intolerance.

Gifted. One word. So many connotations. It’s as diverse and interesting as the people for whom it represents.

Long may it stand.


Gifted Homeschoolers Forum board member Pamela Price is a Texas-based writer and author. Currently she’s researching a book forthcoming from GHF Press on the impact of bullying and relational aggression upon gifted children and their families.

"Why the Word 'Gifted' Still Matters"  by Pamela Price of RedWhiteandGrew.com for the September 2014 Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Blog HopFor more posts in this month’s Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Blog Hop, please click here.

*Originally I had written “noun” because I was thinking “the gifted” as a population (like “the French”) but later I swapped it out for “word” for greater clarity.


  1. I look forward to the day when conversations about the word gifted are replaced with conversations about ways to help. With fabulous blog posts like this one, I know that day is a little closer.

  2. I loved this, “We need the word until we, as a culture, can see the distinct and varied permutations of human intellectual difference without feeling fear, threat, or envy for those whom the word “gifted” fits.”

    Thank you for writing. This was beautiful.

  3. I love everything about this post! If you could see me now, I am giving you a very enthusiastic standing ovation with random fist pumping and shouts of “right on!”. Gifted – “long may it stand.” Yes!

  4. Yes! The term gifted matters because giftedness exists and the gifted need to be acknowledged and given the modifications in parenting and education that they need to thrive.
    Thank you for a great post!

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