HomephilosophyAre you smart ‘enough’?

I don’t use an ad blocker on my phone, so when I browse Facebook on it, ads still pop up. Not long ago, this one showed up:

“Are you smart enough to solve the puzzle?”

I shook my head, because it was just another reminder of the false equivalency our culture puts on great spelling or math skills and intelligence.

I’m not saying that people who are spelling whizzes or math aces aren’t smart, because they are. They’re very smart, but they’re not the only smart people out there.

Our culture tends to view that specific brand of intelligence the ONLY type of intelligence. If you don’t test well, can’t recite facts, memorize words and facts or have neat handwriting, you’re not considered smart.

That’s so wrong on so many levels.

People seem to forget that the majority of writing they see in every day life goes through quite a process between writer and print. It must be approved, proof read, edited, print edited and finally approved one more time.

Personal blogs, like mine, are often the exception, and even then, bloggers who can afford it often hire editors before publishing their entries.

The only time most people see written work from people like doctors are on prescription slips. I worked in a forensic drug testing laboratory for over five years, setting up accounts directly with people like CEOs, company presidents and doctors. I can tell you from first hand experience their spelling is generally poor, and their writing is often illegible, despite the fact these are all smart, educated people.

If you happen to have an unconventional name, you’ll know from experience how often that’s misspelled. Mine may be spelled Emilie, but even people I’ve known for years, or those who saw it on their screen seconds before, still spell it Emily. It’s not an uncommon name, but it is an uncommon spelling.

My submission to the I Am Dyslexic documentary currently being made.

In the adult world, barring certain industries, spelling isn’t as important as we’re lead to believe in school. I do my personal best to make sure my spelling is accurate before hitting the publish button, but I don’t pin my self image on how well I can do it.

Shows like “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” tell us that if adults can’t answer questions from fifth grade, they’re not smart.

Games like the one mentioned above tell us we’re not smart if we can’t spell the words they want us to.

Interent memes, like “Only so many people can solve this math problem!” imply those who can remember and execute math facts are smarter than those who can’t.

Most adults can withstand this nonsense, but problems arise when kids are constantly exposed to this rigid idea of intelligence. When they don’t test well, they’re viewed as less intelligent, even if they may be able to identify birds within seconds, craft intricate stories out of the blue or execute a stunning martial arts kata.

They may not be able to complete spelling bees, but they may be able to take a broken vacuum cleaner apart and fix it, beat class troop sales records or know just how to make a hurting friend feel better.

It’s past time we embrace more types of intelligence as a community. Poor academic performance, especially in the early grades, does not doom them a life of failure.


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