a point of clarification
October 12, 2002 07:39 AM

I detect hackles raised over that last post. And I think it's important to note a couple of things.

First, that it was a predominantly selfish post. Meaning. Based on a sort of whiny reaction to the world that typified my early adolescence, but which I rarely grouse so much about as an adult. So, like everything I ever post, it simply reflects my state of mind at that moment. In other words, cranky.

Second, my definition of intellectual challenge and reward is based on three requirements that not everyone would include in that definition. Given item x to learn, the experience delivers a reward if: x itself is entirely new, x inherently involves debate and/or differences of opinion, and the discussion surrounding x results in some significant shift in perspective on y (where y is some larger topic related to or otherwise impacted by x).

Note that this definition has little to do with flat-out difficulty. I found aspects of my formal education quite difficult, but usually in terms of the quantity rather than quality of work. There were always certain professorial exceptions to this rule, but they were few. And the people who told me what college would be like confused my need for transformation with a need for things to be hard. [I was lied to!]

So I did make the experience of going to college rewarding, but I didn't do it through academics; the academic workload was generally an impediment, just in terms of finding time for useful learning and discussion. [My advice to anyone currently in an unsatisfying undergraduate program is to find ways to change the experience. Whatever makes sense to you.]

And finally, this whole notion of intelligence. I should clarify that I tend to use smart and intelligent in semantically unsound ways. Sometimes smart is all about academic prowess and achievement, sometimes it's just a synonym for intelligent (which I almost always think of more intellectual creativity than any of the more measurable aspects of thinking).

But. It seems like everyone uses inconsistent definitions of intelligences. I suspect, despite the fact that so many of us are hesitant to come across as too smart (whatever that is), we use whichever definition rates us highest on the scale. And of course, to paraphrase Hypocrisy, this is the internet - we're all above average.

I'll use a favorite southernism in sum: I'm just saying, s'all.

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