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Sep 19 2016

The rise of anti-intellectualism and its effect on our gifted kids

the-rise-of-anti-intellectualismA disturbing trend in society is getting worse. It can be seen most notably in the current political climate, but it also has its talons in medicine, science, and education. I expect to see it dig deeper into other areas, such as the arts, as time goes on. It’s nothing new, has been happening for decades, but it’s reaching a nauseating fever pitch.

It’s the rise of anti-intellectualism. Have you noticed? Discounting or distrusting someone smarter or with more experience in an area, simply because they are other. Ignoring science in favor of erroneous graphics-heavy information on a random website. Skipping over statistics and proof because it’s uncomfortable and instead parroting the rantings of someone who shouts what you’d rather hear instead. Closing ears and minds and hearts.

Others have written about it much more eloquently than I (and for pete’s sake, take the five minutes and read these):

Anti-intellectualism is killing America

Anti-intellectualism and the “Dumbing Down” of America

And this one especially: Anti-intellectualism is Biggest Threat to Modern Society

For whatever screwed up reason, our American culture celebrates and encourages ignorance. I don’t understand it, I’ll never understand it. It makes me crazy and I despise that aspect of our culture. It’s embarrassing and yet it persists.

So what does that mean for our gifted kids?

Well, where should I start? Lack of funding for gifted education programs, for one. How about gifted girls hiding their intelligence? Or maybe the incessant drumbeat of “giftedness isn’t important” blog posts and memes. Our kids pick up the signals that intelligence isn’t valued in today’s society; it’s not hard for them to make the leap to “oh, I’m not valued.” And that, my friends, is wrong on multiple levels and in multiple dimensions.

These kids need intellectual peers, and that kind of peer group is so incredibly hard to find, especially in the same age range. But a group such as that is a safe haven, a place to truly be themselves, away from the anti-intellectualism of outside society. A place where curiosity and questioning and intelligence is celebrated and encouraged. And maybe, a way for them to figure out how to nudge society away from the ignorance edge.

I don’t have answers, I just have a sad resignation that our society and culture is so screwed up, and a long list of sci-fi books to read to pull me out of that funk. The best I can do at this point is help the gifted kids in my life find their peer group and keep it front and center in their lives. They need it and oftentimes they don’t realize just how badly they do.

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14203124_10157486198685002_6096535802774310422_nToday’s post is part of September’s GHF blog hop. Please hop around and read the other participants’ submissions; you may find yourself an intellectual peer group.

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  1. Carolyn Fox

    Unfortunately this isn’t restricted to the US. It’s a similar situation in the UK and other parts of the world. Yes, it’s alarming and disconcerting. Some states in the US are better for giftedness and 2e kids than others. Of course, Massachusetts, where I used to live, is ironically one of the worst states for it — despite the amount of higher educational institutions located there and it being a heavily tilted ‘blue’ state. RI isn’t much better either.
    Carolyn Fox recently posted…Finding peers with a move or starting to homeschool a gifted/2e childMy Profile

  2. Kathleen

    <3 Yes. I agree, and I have no solutions either. But I too try to focus on the micro-level – creating safe spaces for the kids around me and crossing my fingers and hoping for the rest.
    Kathleen recently posted…Adventures in the Jungle: Finding Peers for 2e KidsMy Profile

  3. Emily

    I’m discouraged by this, too. I agree that finding a peer group can help, and can give kids (and parents) the courage to go back out into the world and to try to make it better. Thank you for helping to create a safe haven for gifted parents with your blog. 🙂
    Emily recently posted…Like-Mindedness and the Denial GeneMy Profile

  4. Mary

    Oh sheesh, please tell me that poll was wrong (18% of Americans still believe that the sun revolves around the earth, second link in) That’s some scary stuff right there. It’s discouraging, but based on my admittedly anecdotal experience, it’s not a new trend. We just get to see more discouraging stuff because the media/internet sprays it across our collective consciousness. There is one promising sign though – nerds and geeks are becoming cool. I think that’s a good sign!

  5. qH

    This is a frequent conversation with my husband and friends. My theory is that the great teachers out there (the teachers who recognize and nurture gifted kids) who would have supported gifted kids in the past are now too burdened with the endless busywork and intrusion into the classroom (the teaching to the test trope, among others) to do that now.

    We put too much emphasis on athletics. It’s okay to be a superstar athlete and for parents to brag about that. If the kid is injured, there is a wealth of sympathy. But if your gifted kid is paralyzed by perfectionism and can’t handle that fourth AP class he really wanted to take? Um, good luck with that.

    No answers, though. I let my child pursue her arcane interests while I pursue mine and we seek out as many like-minded people as we can. What else is there?
    qH recently posted…How golf courses should respond to Pokemon Go instead of being d*cks (A #PokemonGO rant)*My Profile

  6. Heather Boorman

    I agree with sooo much of this. We recently did a podcast where we discussed this very issue and how no one seems to have an issue with the term “gifted” if it refers to being able to run really fast, or to catch a ball really well….and well, heck if you can do both of these things, preferable at the same time then we will proclaim your giftedness until the cows come home. And yet our intellectually gifted kids are often made to feel like it’s not appropriate to be themselves.
    Great article.

  7. Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley

    Right there with ya!

  8. FredB

    This is a (nearly) eternal truth. Life wasn’t any different when I graduated from high school in 1965.

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