This I Believe

Brian - Dallas, Texas
Entered on April 13, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

The stereotypical image of a “smart kid” is one of a diligent student studying and reading relentlessly, the type of child that has nothing better to do but “enrich himself” by cramming in everything academically related. The assiduous adolescent that befriends only his teachers and gets perfect grades is actually not the epitome of pedantic perfectionism nowadays. The modern view of the “nerd” is actually quite the opposite of this traditional cliché. The pejorative term “nerd” or “geek” was usually applied in a derogative manner towards individuals who display accomplishment in technological, scientific, or academic pursuits but were socially inept. The connotative definition of a smart person is similar to the traditional denotation but, nowadays, your degree of mental ability is reflected from your credentials (in this case, grades) and how you carry yourself.

I think it’s not just your grades that determine if you’re smart or not, but also how you get them. I don’t think that a “smart kid” is necessarily a nerd; the true prodigy is one who can maneuver through different obstacles using the knowledge he already possesses in a different manner, someone who manipulates his surroundings to his own advantage. Like the TAG kids for example, they are among the brightest and most scholastically distinguished in the nation, but not all of them portray the traits of a “nerd”. Talented and Gifted kids get exemplary grades but not all of them study habitually or complete all of their school assignments. Instead, most of them slip through cracks of the “honor code,” or find other loopholes in the school system to penetrate. I don’t see them as nerds but more “scholarly hustlers.” Whether it’s procrastinating, cheating, providing answers, finding sources for assistance, or inveiglement, they’re masters of their trade. The kids with the highest grades most of the time do tend to be the ones that actually do their work, but if you take a step down, you find the almost equally bright children who don’t do anything in school. Those are the real geniuses of the school system. Most of them blow off their class work assignments and copy all of their homework from other people and still get near perfect grades. What they do may not be morally just, but sometimes you just have to do what you have to do to get where you need to go. They learn to play the school system and they do it with expert precision and guile.

My conclusion is that kids who can pass with flying colors by using adroit or cunning tactics without getting caught are the true geniuses. Brilliance doesn’t necessarily mean being the smartest in your class, for you can be the best with a little ingenuity and prowess. This is like the saying, you don’t need to out-run the bear, you just need to out-run the person closest to the bear. You don’t need to be an Einstein or Aristotle to stay on top of the game. A real adept knows how to use his surroundings and manipulate his entourage or retinues to get things done with dexterity and haste. I believe in the Thesaurus.