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Don't call them stupid

26 December 2013, 18:17

We live in a very competitive and judgemental society. People, from a young age, are label and categorised into categories based on how smart, or not they are perceived to be. Those labelled as "smart" are often given the support, teaching and confidence to continue to outperform their "stupid"classmates.

Those who don't quite make the cut are either pressured to take on an insane workload to keep up or demotivated to give up and do something easier. The smart then end up in highly valued positions where they are perceived to get status, money and as far as society is concerned, happiness. The stupid however have to make do and settle for whatever job they can get.

I understand that is might seem a crude simplification. However this does represent the view of the world I was taught, directly or through observation, while growing up. I personally have a serious problem with this point of view for a number of reasons. And I will be relying on two of the world most celebrated intellectual minds to form and support my argument: Albert Einstein and Socrates.
The main concern is our obsession with the very narrow definition of "smart"that is reinforced by our education system.

This view demotivates and stifles the genius of millions of people who do not confirm to this view. We decided that a certain set of skills and a certain way of thinking is superior to all others. The select few that are lucky enough to be "smart" by this definition are praised and encouraged throughout their educational career, while the greater majority are either shunned, ignored, pressured to conform and prosecuted in extreme cases.

Now if everything I said up till this point doesn't agree with your point of view I'll be happy to argue the merits of my problem definition with you below. I will however now attempt to solve the problem at the grassroots by redefining our view of smart: 

In my humble opinion a smart person should be defined as someone who knows himself to such an extent that he/she is able to identify his/her own strengths and passions and identify what type of jobs comes naturally to him/her. This smart person will then get to a position where the person can do what he/she is passionate about and work incredibly hard at it to be the best that he/she can be in that position.
By definition then a stupid person is someone who gives up and tries to float by doing nothing or someone who works himself to death to get a job he/she doesn't enjoy or someone who makes a career decision to abandon his/her passion solely based on money or status.

I believe that if we can implement an educational system that reinforces this approach and we can teach an outlook along these lines in our homes and schools we would end up with a more happy, successful and stable society. We should them as a society stop stigmatising certain careers or positions. We need to learn to see and respect skill and passion is any form it presents itself and provide our respect and encouragement to those pursuing their passions with dedication.

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