Thursday, 16 October 2014

Stupid people.

What makes me clever? Is it the grades I get at school and the qualifications I will leave with? Perhaps it is the number of books I read, or even the type of books. Is it the amount I write? Is it what I write? Does my cleverness get measured on the difficulty of sums I can do off the top of my head? If I go to Cambridge university am I more clever than if I were to go to Surrey? Maybe if one teacher thinks I am wonderful in one subject but in another the teacher is concerned about my performance my intelligence is halved. Or possibly if I read a New Science issue once a year I could be deemed as a little smarter than I was before.

If cleverness were based on the amount of effort one puts into everything they do I don't suppose my cleverness would be as great as others. In school at least. If cleverness were based on the amount of ambition one has then by God I could quite possibly be a genius. If cleverness were based on the quality of conversation one upheld with every one they spoke to my cleverness would vary greatly. If cleverness were based on how one spoke then once again I would not know how to measure myself.

If I am not gifted nor talented am I not clever? If I do not get noticed by every teacher in the school for my work and marked as an extremely skillful student am I a little less intelligent than those who do?

Were I  to choose a career in acting, or in hair and makeup, or perhaps in fashion retail can I ever enter the realm of intelligentsia?

Who is even going to decide on my cleverness? My teachers? My university? My parents? My book shelf?

Were we to create a label called "Clever" and pick from a room of young people there would be a very small group. If a teacher was to choose some students to go into a 'Gifted and Talented' class not only would that leave a large majority with said teacher but it would deem the others as utterly giftless and talentless. How worthless those students would feel. Where on earth are those students supposed to go after that? Into talentless jobs? Talentless lives?

There is an incorrectly sorted category for clever people. Especially for young people and especially in schools. Cleverness is a spectrum, just like emotions and love you cannot possibly define it as one thing. Or measure it in any way because there are thousands and thousands of versions of 'clever'. If you do not fit into the Gifted and Talented box at school then you are zapped of some of your individuality. There you go off into the vast and endless sea of stupid people. You can still come to lessons but you'll never be quite as good as the intelligent ones. You'll probably be compared to someone you have nothing in common with and be asked to raise your standards to theirs. You will be put into a box and either taken out and admired from time to time or put away to be dealt with later.

Cleverness is an extremely difficult thing to deal with with young people. They're not fully formed beings yet. I am not a fully formed being. I think that the way young people are handled at school in reference to their intelligence can be very badly done. It can hurt and damage ambitions or ideas that are just beginning to grow. Perhaps, to anyone who is listening, we need to reform the way in which students are rewarded and we need to stop categorising them at such a tender age. If a child 'knows they are stupid' somebody has failed them.

We are not all clever, but then, what does clever even mean?