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What is "Smart"
goofy
kass_rants
It has often been a topic of my thoughts: why do we consider someone smart.

For example, in high school, I was a "smart kid". I got math and science easily. But when I got to university, I found it very difficult. I attribute this to the fact that math and science came to me easily in grade school and high school so I never had to take a book home ans study them. When I ran into math and science that wasn't easy, I stopped. I didn't have the mechanism in place to learn it. I didn't know how to start. I never had to before. I just got it. And then I didn't.

Some people hear that I speak five languages (and comprehend six) and say, "Boy, you must be smart!" But learning a language isn't a good measure of intelligence. People considered to be mentally retarded can learn other languages, and have. And people with high IQs have felt that they were incapable of learning another language (which is nonsense, but they feel that way, so they stop, like me with math and science in college). So knowing more than one language certainly isn't a measure of "smarts".

My Mum (and most Mums I expect) would coo, "You're so smart!" when I answered a question right while watching Jeopardy. But the reality was that I was memorizing all those facts in school everyday. And as you realise the moment you get to college, memorizing facts isn't a measure of intelligence. Anything you can look up somewhere isn't smart to memorize. Memorize where to look stuff up. That's "smarts".

Then there's wit. People who can come up with the right thing to say at the right time (and not two hours late like most of us) are considered clever. And we usually interpret this as "smart". But are comedians smart? If I can pull the best comment out of the air at precisely the moment at which it will get the biggest laugh, it may make me a great comedian. But does it prove I'm smart?

So what is "smart"?

I don't honestly think the word has any quantifiable meaning at all.

(This is what happens to language majors who spend too many sick days listening to Professor Brian Cox on Radio 4).