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Nov 15 2013

Seth Godin, please stop using the word gifted

Seth Godin, please stop using the word gifted

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Words matter. Words may be a clunky method of exchanging thoughts and ideas with others, but it’s the best and most efficient manner of sharing. It is too easy to be careless with the words we use. This is especially true when sharing ideas or thoughts or nebulous concepts. So we must take even more care then, because words matter.

Back in February Seth Godin wrote a post reinforcing stereotypes about giftedness; I, and many others, wrote very strongly worded posts in response. I chose my words carefully, because words matter.

Today he did it again. No, I’m not linking up to the post, I have no desire to send more traffic his way from my site. A dear friend noted that he probably had a dip in numbers and so tossed out an inflammatory post to bring in the traffic. He is a marketer, after all, and traffic is all that matters.

Words matter to me. And when someone with a large bully pulpit carelessly throws out the word gifted without truly understanding how that word can be misunderstood and twisted against the very people it describes, I get ticked. Gifted is not simply someone who is “likable, honest, curious and thoughtful.” (Oh, and you missed a comma there; Oxford commas matter, too). Those are personality traits, not the neuropsychological wiring that makes up a gifted individual. Gifted people can have those personality traits, and usually do, but to define gifted with a bunch of adjectives that also best describe any courteous and hard-working individual? No.

There are so many definitions of gifted (thank you, semantics and bureaucracy), but the one that makes the most sense is that of the Columbus Group:

Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counseling in order for them to develop optimally.

Seth Godin, please stop using the word gifted. You are using it wrong.

Comments

comments

3 comments

  1. Catharine Alvarez

    I went and read his new post. The thing is, he is agreeing that being likable, honest, etc is not giftedness… so I don’t understand the outrage this time.

  2. Melanie

    Just so you know, you have at least two punctuation errors.

  3. dellanioakes

    As a former teacher of gifted & talented students, parent of gifted students, somewhat gifted myself, I don’t see how he’s wrong in the way he uses the word. I do have issue with “Giftedness”, but not with Gifted itself.

    I have minor objections to his overall wording, because it sounds snooty and high handed, he can’t just say that Gifted people are smart and have trouble communicating and interacting with dummies.

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