What does it mean to be smart?

Written May 29, 2015

Today's post is a bit random and arbitrary, but it involves a topic that I feel needs addressing. As I've mentioned on here before, I'm currently a high school student. In particular, I'm a junior, meaning I have one more year to go before heading off to college. In today's day and age, high school (and schooling in general) has become the equivalent of a full-time occupation...The last thing I want to do is ignorantly and inconsiderately pick apart the education that I'm ridiculously blessed to have access to. Instead, I want to call attention to a societal stigma surrounding educational status and numerical representations of intelligence.


From a young age, I have been given the impression that education is the key to success; education is a universal lock, capable of opening an endless amount of doors; education is synonymous with knowledge. With age, I've come to realize that many of these supposedly concrete notions lack substantial validity.


I'm tired of the fact that an individual is largely defined by his or her SAT scores, salary, GPA, professional title, etc. Teenagers and adults alike are both offenders and victims of this behavior. Why has our society dehumanized single human beings in such a way that numbers out-value charisma?


This topic could be extended to become much broader. Significantly, we are a society driven by surface features. That being said, we are quick to form judgement based on appearance, social status or popularity, socioeconomic standing, weight, number of followers, and more. To circle back to the meaning of this post in the first place, I've recently been struck by the amount of times I've noticed people comparing themselves to others based on grades and scores and numerical rankings and so-on. Is this inevitable as a student? Or is it simply human nature to want to characterize individuals based on objective measures of "success"? I know that, when it comes to school, level of success is numerical in nature (for the purpose of practicality, efficacy, and utter straightforwardness). Although one measure of intelligence, an individual's grades should be one of many. Intelligence of character should be based on a wide variety of factors, such as experiential knowledge, situational and global awareness, personableness, an ability to communicate and collaborate, creative capacity, open-mindedness, complexity of imagination, flexibility of the mind, and SO much more.


Yes, school is incredibly valuable. Often, it can be accredited with providing individuals with opportunities and situations in which the factors mentioned above can be applied. In essence, I want to convey a strong belief of mine that involves the following: education through academic learning is incredibly valuable, but by no means does its gravity outweigh the power of experiential knowledge. Additionally, an individual's character is remarkably intricate. In turn, it's deserving of much more respect than a lousy number is able to represent. In fact, the most complex and elaborate of individuals—ones worthy of immense praise and credit—aren't definable. Perhaps, our societal habit of categorizing individuals is detrimental. So what does all this rambling mean? What needs to be done?


I want to challenge you—YOU, reading this. The act of judging is instinctual, yes. However, try and prolong the designation and labeling that such "judging" induces before embracing all aspects of an individual's character. Look beyond the number. Explore the ins and outs of one's personality. Interpret new perspectives and backgrounds. Open your mind. You may be pleasantly surprised with what you discover.


"It isn't simply the breadth of your own knowledge that's essential, but rather an appreciation of the vastness of the unknown information that exists in the world."

ThoughtsLibby KingComment