At the team building workshop that I attended somehow the topic of IQ came up. (I really don’t remember how). What started out as a discussion about emotional intelligence ended up turning into essentially a bashing of people with high IQ, and then migrated on to smart people, in general. You know, the old smart people do not have any common sense bit.
Anyhow, although it bothered me, I really did not know what to do about it. The majority of the group got in on it, and to be honest, I really didn’t feel like trying to explain both my opinion (intelligence is not clearly defined and their are multiple ways to intelligence) nor my experiences to a group of strangers, who are already making snap judgments. But, I couldn’t help think, here we go again. Why do people feel comfortable in bashing people who have been grouped into this category? I suppose if you believe it is an outcome of nuture and opportunities (vs. talent or ability), then I guess you could say that some people CHOOSE to be smart, so they choose to categorize themselves differently and because of that are deserving of ridicule. I don’t know. I think for most of us, we are tagged at very young ages, and it’s whether we embrace that (all those folks who join MENSA) or reject that (as some many of my fellow students in high school did).
I do not know, and to be honest, I do not think about it too much, except, when I hear people starting to talk about IQ, or smart people, or whatever they want to call them. Because I know what is coming next and I don’t understand it. Is it because they believe it is only test based and thus is completely a category of people who are good at taking tests (it isn’t, by the way, and I personally suffer terribly from test anxiety)? Is it because of jealousy (do they feel that people in this category are given unfair advantages? REALLY? When you find them, pass them on this way, please…) Do they think we are proud of being labeled as such? (You’ve got to be kidding, right? Nerd Jokes?!?!? How many people do you know who proudly go around telling you all of their test scores, IQ, as well as references, etc. Several of my fellow students in my general history class in high school had a betting pool over whether I would score 100 on a test. Oh, that did a lot for my social life….)
Really, I do not understand this general societal contempt, and I really wish someone would explain it to me. Being labeled smart is a mixed blessing, for sure. The amount of pressure that it breeds amongst teachers and families, the feelings (contempt, fear, expectation, avoidance, think you should do their homework for free, etc.) from fellow normal (whatever that means) students is incredible. All I ever wanted was to be a normal kid, however, when I realized that I wouldn’t ever be a normal kid, it was a defining moment for me. I’ve never felt particularly smart, but I am good at learning things. I am good at teaching myself stuff and I am good constructing/deconstructing things. It’s why I love multiple media work and why I love coding. I love to pull things apart and put them back together to make something new. In high school, art classes and computer lab were my saving graces; the only places I felt accepted. I never felt smart enough for my advanced classes (although I did fine grade wise), but in the art studio, I was just a person. College was the great leveling field for me. Once I got out of the major with umm the smart people and moved into the arts (different kind of smart people with lots of very smart folks using their energy to make art, etc.), I felt free finally to just be me. No one judging me on how smart or not smart I was, but on the end result.
Of course, I am now glad that I received the special education that I did and if it took being labeled to receive that, then I guess it was worth it. I wish everyone had that opportunity and I hope that is what magnet schools are attempting to do. Because really, everyone learns differently and education shouldn’t be from a cookie cutter regardless of how someone tests or what their abilities are and we really need to learn to respect all abilities because we all offer something different.