From the moment we walk into kindergarten we are descended upon…
…by the dogs of society to label our intelligence.
I know, kid. It sucks. But unfortunately that’s not all. After…
…those kids are labeled as ‘smart’…
They are further split
Into two more groups
One of the groups will be considered weird or eccentric like Albert Einstein,
And the infamous Napoleon Dynamite.
Then you have the other group. The successful group with people like Mark Zuckerburg, the founder of Facebook…
And Steve Jobs, the creator of the apple company and all of its technologically innovated gadgets.
Spock, well he’s just an awesome combination of both.
But what does it actually mean to be smart?
Is it simply being a geek or a nerd?
Does smart mean that you have to be good with computers
or score well on multiple choice tests?
The dictionary definition defines smart as
Very good at learning or thinking about things and showing intelligence or good judgment. There’s also the smart attitude but that’s besides the point. Let’s move on…
Standardized tests using multiple choice questions measure whether kids are advanced or not but that’s not really what being smart is.
Memorization and organizational skills help bring out our intelligence but that’s not it either.
So if it’s not a simple dictionary definition, it it can’t be measured by tedious or memorization and organization, then what is it?
Someone who is smart, truly smart, fulfills three requirments.
The first is that they have to think comprehensively.
The second is that they have to back up their opinions with evidence.
And the third is that they have to strive for knowledge.
So why exactly is that hard to define? Mostly its because of the stereotypes from pop culture that have blurred the lines of what it actually means to be smart.
Take this guy for example. He is a classic geek, nerd, smart person, whatever title you want to label him with, the effect is still the same.
First you have the glasses, huge and thickly rimmed.
Notice the tape holding those glasses together. It’s probably the result of some hulking bully who picked on him.
Then you have the unfortunate acne problem
Suspenders to hold up his presumably high waisted pants and finally a love for all things computerized.
Not to mention the classic pens in the shirt pocket,
Along with the unfortunate ink bleed.
Steve Urkel was the epitomy of the stereotypical nerd-slash-geek-slash-smart person.
As was Napoleon Dynamite. But did that mean that these two stereotypes were smart?
I’m gonna say no.
Before it was cool to be smart like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs, it was a curse to be proficient in anything. It wasn’t until the 80s that a cultural shift occurred, changing the way society viewed geeks and nerds as smart people.
The 80s were about more than just big hair
Pro-feminists like Madonna
And the debut of USA for Africa song “We are the World”, it was a major shift for the smart kids.
A picture like this, where the nerd, not the jock, ended up with the girl was a completely foreign concept. That is, until the debut of…
“Revenge of the Nerds” which was released in 1984.
After that, came the ABC/CBS sitcom “Family Matters” with the famously annoying and nerdy Steve Urkel who became a character to laugh with instead of pick on.
Social conventions started to shift away from picking on kids because they were smart to praising them.
Like Good Will Hunting in 1997 that starred Matt Damon as the closet smart guy who was too good for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
But it wasn’t until about 10 years later that some of the biggest shifts in pop culture occurred, changing our perceptions of what it means to be a geek versus being smart.
One of those changes was “The Big Bang Theory” in 2007, a sitcom dedicated entirely around geeks who were also considered smart.
As their AD put it, Smart is the new sexy.
Then came “Glee” in 2009, another show dedicated to the plight of geeks and nerds in today’s society. Exposing the correlation between being a geek and being a loser brought millions of supporters…
To proudly show their “Geek” side in support of the show. Now we start to witness smart and nerdy spill into other parts of cultural media.
Like Cosmo, the woman’s magazine centered on women’s issues, careers, sex and relationships.
The November 2013 issue of the magazine for example did an article…
…encouraging women to date nerds because of the benefits that would expose their own nerdy side.
Now that being smart lost some of its social…
…depravity, a new issue surfaced with smart kids.
There was a pressure for kids to perform well on tests in order to be considered smart.
All with the goal of being able to compare them to other country’s standards.
Because what good is the US unless we’re number 1?
And that has led to Standardized testing to become a very controversial subject
….along with other tests like the Intelligence Quotient, or IQ,
Because just like the stereotypes of geeks and nerds in pop culture, those two tests don’t encompass what it truly means to be smart.
If you think he looks frustrated with the system,
Let’s go back to this kid and ask how she feels about it.
So what was it that makes us truly smart?
We have to have the ability to think comprehensively.
We also have to back up our claims using evidence.
And we have to constantly strive to know more than what we already do.
But that certainly doesn’t mean we can’t be geeks sometimes,
To Be Smart:
Use analytical evidence.
To Be Smart:
Use analytical evidence.
Strive for knowledge.
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