Friday, March 6

Smart, Smart, Smart, and Stupid

Compare.  Contrast.

The other day I wrote about how I don't get "smart".  In that case, it was about wanting to make babies "smart".  I have realized, in the interim, that there is a LOT about smart that I don't get.

I don't get what smart means in the context of public schools (although I do get that it doesn't mean to them what it means to me).  Is it A) High test scores?, B)  Compliance?  C) Extra credit?  or D) Divergent or critical thinking?    Hint:  (it's not D)

I don't get why we apologize for being smart, like it's a bad thing.  I don't get why when someone is really good at running, we all stand by the side of the road or in the stands and cheer, and when they show pride at winning a medal, we share their glory--but when someone is really good at math, we keep our distance and hope they don't talk too much about it.  And if they're proud of their accomplishments, we call them elitist and arrogant.  Interesting.  Is it because we get what running is, and we don't get what math is, and we don't want to feel stupid ourselves?  

I don't get why "being smart" is a bad behavior for kids, one that often results in punishment.  "Don't be smart!" is such an interesting way to criticize a child, especially when we are angry at them in the same breath for not doing well in school.  "Don't be rude"?  I get that.  "Don't be disrespectful?"  I get that.  But why did we start using the word "smart" to mean "impertinent"?  Maybe because people don't know the word "impertinent"?  :)

On the flip side, what is the matter with not being "smart" (whatever that means).  Is it even possible?  Seems like everyone is smart at something, no?

And what part do sex and gender play?  Ponder this observation by Erica Jong: "You see a lot of smart guys with dumb women, but you hardly ever see a smart woman with a dumb guy".  So does this mean that smart guys are...well, kinda dumb, and smart women  (for that matter, the same thing goes for ugly guys with beautiful women but ugly women with....well, usually nobody).

I don't know.  I'm not smart enough to figure this out.  But I'm thinking on it.  A lot.

Wait.  It was Albert Einstein who said "It's not that I'm so smart.  I just stay with problems longer."  So maybe I am smart.  I'm confused, that's for sure.  (then again, he was the one who said that imagination was more important than knowledge, so what does he know)

And what about Smart Food and Smart Start?  Which is smarter:  popcorn or cereal?  These are the questions that plague my days.  Discuss.

By the way (for those who are wondering), the title of this post, "Smart, smart, smart, and stupid" is something my mother-in-law says.  I know the context in which she uses it, and kinda sorta maybe what it means, but it's also possible that it's yet another thing I don't get.  I think it means the people who are smart can sometimes be so stupid.  Or maybe it means we're only allowed to say smart things three times in a row, and then we have to say something stupid (that should be easy!).  Or maybe it means something kinda like that thing that professors say in their know..."look to your right, and then look to your of the three of you is not going to make it through this class" (don't mind me, just having a flashback to college chemistry).  Oh, but with four people.  You get the idea..."look to your right, and then look to your left, and then look behind you.  One of the four of you is stupid."  

Or something like that.

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