Giftedness is Who You Are

Linda Silverman's picture

"Giftedness is not what you do or how hard you work. It is who you are. You think differently. You experience life intensely. You care about injustice. You seek meaning. You appreciate and strive for the exquisite. You are painfully sensitive. You are extremely complex. You cherish integrity. Your truth-telling has gotten you in trouble.  Should 98% of the population find you odd, seek the company of those who love you just the way you are. You are not broken. You do not need to be fixed. You are utterly fascinating. Trust yourself!"

Linda Silverman - 100 Words of Wisdom


This poured out of me four years ago when I was asked to write “100 Words of Wisdom” for the SENG Newsletter. The concept that giftedness is who you are rather than what you do is controversial. Immediately after it was published, George Betts, Professor Emeritus of the University of Northern Colorado, passionately embraced the concept and it now serves as the platform of his philosophy as president of the National Association for Gifted Children. The winds have changed.

This new perspective is rooted in the fiber of gifted education. It dates back to Leta Hollingworth, the foremother of gifted education.  Leta’s child-centered philosophy also seeded the client-centered psychology of Carl Rogers, her student. Psychology was dominated by behaviorism in his era: behavior is what you do. Annemarie Roeper brought the child-centered philosophy of her parents to America, where it continues to flourish at The Roeper School, a haven for gifted children, celebrating its 75th anniversary. Annemarie proposed self-actualization and interdependence as the goals of education. A member of the Columbus Group, Annemarie’s heart is imbedded in the definition of giftedness as asynchronous development.

Have you ever felt really seen? Not for what you do, but for who you are? This is the essence of the child-centered perspective. Cherish your uniqueness. Love your children for who they are—the precious souls who share this journey with you, not for what they do or for who they might become.  Love is not a race.