Why is it so bad to be smart?
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Why is it OK to say "I'm blonde," or "My son is the tallest kid in his class," or to brag about things like making the soccer team or winning a medal, but it's bad form to say "I'm smart"
Let me come right out and say. I'm smart. In fact, I am a genius. Measuably, provably, statistically, I am smarter than 99% of the people in the world. I'm not supposed to say that, I know. I once asked a head hunter how I should best explain to prospective employers that my best feature as a financial analyst is my intelligence. He told me I should never tell an interviewer my IQ or that I'm smart, and even recomended I take my Mensa membership off of my resume. He said I should talk about my reporting skills rather than pointing out that I learn new things quickly, retain information longer and notice details others miss. Bragging about intelligence is bad form.
Which brings me to today's gripe.
My 9-year-old son received a referral to his school's Gifted and Talented program. It's about time. He's been testing off the charts on math and reading since 1st grade. Literally - at our conferences, the teachers are always telling us "He scored ### on the assessment, which is as high as it goes."
He handed me the letter from the school in front of two of his friends. I showed him silently what it said, and indicated he should keep it to himself, but he couldn't. He was so happy, he jumped up and yelled to his two best friends "I'm smart enough for GT! I'm going to be in the smart class!"
They weren't happy for him. On the contrary, while they expect him to cheer for their football victories, or congratualte them for winning a race, they laughed at him. They said it was rude for him to say he was smart. They called him a snob. Neither of them has any problem shouting to the whole neighborhood that they ran faster than everyone else, or jumped higher, or rode their bike farther, but let my son be proud of his mind for a moment and HE'S the snob.
I was ostracized in school for being too eager to answer questions, too interested in academics, too smart overall. People hated me for blowing the curve in every class. But that ws 30 years ago, and I was a girl. I thought things would be different for Liam. He's a boy, and he's naturally charming.
Don't things ever get better?