Gifted: what does it mean?

I have always disliked the term “gifted”. It’s like the word “inconceivable”: as Inigo Montoya says in The Princess Bride, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Years later, while sitting around a mahjongg game, I discovered that the three other players, all of whom had attended Catholic schools in Toronto and classmates of mine in university, had also been in the Gifted program. What else did we have in common? We were also arts/theatre people.

The fact that the gifted program was called “Five Talents” (can’t get more biblical than that) was not lost on us.

“I think they were looking for future Jesuits, along with Carmelite nuns,” I was heard to say.

But as I said, today “gifted” can mean different things to different people. And the thing that I have noticed is that these days giftedness is, more often than not, tied to STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – to the detriment of the arts and humanities.

Worse, there is an expectation that a gifted kid has to excel at everything.

Which is, to my mind, inconceivable.

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