Raising Gifted Children: The R-word and the N-word

I learned from new blog friend (and MomImpact member--w00t!) Ellen that today is the day to stop using the r-word (r-e-t-a-r-d-e-d). That reminded me a column I wrote in defense of quirky gifted children long ago on another blog.

{Pardon me while I wipe off the dust.}

I am normally one of those people who is so politically correct that she’s a bore. Don’t tell me a racist joke or one that makes fun of gays. Not funny. And don’t bother including a person’s the religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation in a story unless it’s somehow pertinent to the outcome. Just. Don’t.

However, if we are going to remove the R-word from the vernacular, I ask that we also please severely limit use of the N-word: nerd. And also the G-word: Geek.

These terms- nerd and geek- are often used to suggest bookish, high IQ types with their head in the clouds, no sense of fashion and just as few social skills. Why do we permit this stereotype?

I recall one mom writing that her child’s school had a “dress like a nerd day” during spirit week. Can you image the instant uproar if the school had suggested dress like a "retard" day? Or how about dress like a Jew day? What about dress like a butch lesbian day? I can’t imagine the administration would have let any of those fly. But, you know, go ahead and make fun of those gifted kids. They’re smart. They’ll get over it.

Or maybe as Candace noted in a comment on my recent post, maybe they’ll won't. They will drop out of school or do Lord knows what self-destructive acts. I’ve heard it said that gifted teenagers may not have a higher than normal suicide attempt rate, but evidence suggests that their “success” rate may be higher than the average population. {shudder}

So let's do away with the R-word, but let’s balance that out and do the same thing with the N- and G-words used to stereotypes kids on the other end of the learning spectrum.

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