The Gifted Program name will be changed due to concerns about the “growth mindset,” according to Administrative Secretary of the Gifted Advisory Committee, Linda Coulter.
The announcement, delivered to Gifted students via school email on March 1st, comes as the BSD continues to teach the growth mindset. The growth mindset, coined by Carol Dweck, the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford, is a mindset that that any individual can learn new things and get better at something by trying and working hard. As Spiritridge Elementary’s principal, Scott Hetherington puts it, a growth mindset is the belief that “over time you can change intelligence, you can learn new things and you teach your brain new things.”
In the email sent to students, Coulter wrote, “After hearing from numerous students, parents and staff members who shared concerns about student labels, equity, and the development of a growth mindset in our students, the Gifted Program, with support from the Gifted Advisory Committee and numerous staff members, is inviting anyone interested to suggest a new program name.”
The email then gave the reasons for changing the name: “Labeling a student as “gifted” may impede the development of a growth mindset, in that students often believe they have a fixed ability and therefore better not fail, or that they have a permanent set of traits upon which they are being judged.”
The new name must relate to Pacific Northwest geography, landforms, or history, modelling after other BSD programs such as Cascade, Olympic, and Evergreen.
The name change draws sharp criticism from several Gifted Program students, who say that the name change is irrelevant, and would cause the entire identity of the program to change. These opponents of the decision point out that even though the Gifted Program’s name might change, the name “gifted” will stick around and still have the same impact on fixed mindset. Other Gifted students say that the name change is one of series of declines to the Gifted Program, starting from the replacement of PRISM, the parent program of the Gifted Program.
In the meantime, the future of the Gifted Program is still uncertain. While the district plans to change the name of the Gifted Program to implement the so-called “growth mindset,” many Gifted students feel like this change is completely unnecessary and could even be detrimental to the program.