Academia: Age of Intelligence

by Kaden Darez, Senior Teen Correspondent for En Tequila Es Verdad.

Author’s note: I was going to save this for a Carnival. Looking over it, I don’t really know if it has a point or not. It was something I typed up a while ago. So I’m posting it.

The age of intelligence. Anyone here hoping to find some deep insight on the time of intellect, you may be disappointed. If you are wishing to read about the trials and tribulations of culture, of arrogant ignorants struggling to come to terms with the concept that there is someone smarter than them, then you’re close but not quite on the mark. This is not about the era of intelligence, but rather the age of the individual in question.

What is the age of an intelligent person?

As a few of you might have realized by now, I am young. I am eighteen years old. A teenager. A run-of-the-mill slacker who won’t stay off the lawn and doesn’t value his education and wears his jeans so low that his pockets are held up by his knees. Right?

I dare you to say that to my face. Not for want of intimidation, but so that you can see my eyes, so that you can hear my words. I am not a faceless individual, I am not just another drop of water in a raging storm. I am a unique human being, and I have as many opinions, as shallow or as deep as anyone else. Oh, and I wear my pants correctly.

Why do we assume that those of young age are not intelligent? Why do we assume that hunched over senior citizens are equally blind to the world that surrounds them? Of course, not everyone does, but when was the last time you sat down with someone with a few generations between you and had an insightful conversation, when you were not trying to prove a point, or tell stories about going to school in the snow, barefoot, walking uphill both ways, but rather, when you were trying to actually learn something?

Certainly, there are plenty of examples amongst my peers of minds so dim they couldn’t illuminate a matchbox, but don’t go pointing out examples of stupidity and ignorance in my generation, when our current president is from yours.

My favorite thing to do at family reunions, weddings, holidays, or any formal occasion with a myriad of adults talking amongst themselves, is to simply engage in a conversation. Often, the scene plays out with them asking me a typical opening line, because I’m family and they have to be nice:

Adult: “So, what grade are you in?

Because of course, admitting that I am still in school, in high school and certainly not the elevated status of a college student, automatically denotes me as inferior, less intelligent, lacking morals and values and appreciation for everything my parents have worked so hard to provide me. So I tell them what year I’m in, which is usually followed by an equally anonymous,

Adult: “What classes are you taking?

Now right about…. there ^ is where the eyes glaze over. They press pause on their expression, keeping that phony smile on their face so they can feign interest, waiting for me to answer with some usual, “stuff” or “I dunno” that is the typical response of my childhood comrades.

If you look carefully, you can see the cogs in their brain spinning freely, not paying attention, no individual gear connected to another one in the context of this conversation. Whatever you tell them doesn’t even get the liberty of going in one ear, before going out the other. Rather, it simply is batted away by thoughts of their next margarita, and my responses usually go cartwheeling right past their ear, screaming indignantly but with all the efficiency of an autumn leaf in a hurricane. Still, I try, and smile and say,

Teenager: “Oh, just a few classes. Twentieth century History and Literature, Theory of Knowledge, AP Biology II, Japanese IV and AP Calculus.

That usually gets their attention, if they have enough brain power to light an LED. If not, then they usually pat me on the head with an, “Oh, P.E., that’s nice,” and make their way to the nearest food source. Still, I have some fairly bright people in my family tree, so I have had the wonderful experience of launching into a conversation, not only about what I’m learning but about what the adult knows, and we end up teaching each other. Isn’t that what learning is all about?

Now, in the post by our wonderful friend NP, she stated that,

“Students today put no value on their education.”

I can only extend my sympathies and sorrows that students don’t realize we have people like NP around, but in rebuttal to her statement, I ask, How are we to be expected to value our education, our intelligence, if adults don’t take us seriously? Sure, our teachers and principals expect us to learn and to thrive in an academic environment, and our parents certainly demand high performance, but when you are taken out of a strictly educational environment, we’re just those damned skateboarders again.

It’s quite a paradox, really, that we are often considered of less intelligence, fewer morals, and wilder behavior given certain trends in society. I will be the first to admit that Myspace and Facebook and YouTube play a part in diluting our gene pool, but those tools can also be used in productive ways. Presidential debates, for example, were posted on Youtube for all to see. Facebook is a wonderful networking tool that has been used to schedule large-scale study groups in preparation for AP and IB tests.

Here’s an example: I have been told by my family how I squander my education, yet if I were to set down my Calculus homework in front of them, none of them would be able to give me a derivative or an integral of a simple binomial equation. If I quiz them about the difference between monocot and dicot plants and how you can tell the difference, I get a blank stare. If I ask them about how the Cuban Missile Crisis was averted, I’d get a few general answers but usually not a whole lot of detail about the role of Kruschev, or why a few missiles in Turkey were important to the concluding negotiations.

Now, I’m just cherry-picking here, but it’s merely demonstrating how most of what we’ve learned in school, our parents have either forgotten or were never taught in the first place. I could go on, but I want to keep this fairly on topic: that youngin’s have the capacity for intelligence, but we’re constantly not taken seriously by the adult community.

We are the future, my friends, whether that is a bright prospect or a looming apocalypse. We are also a product of your opinions, the way you treat us and the way we respond. Give us the chance to prove our worth. You might be surprised what you find.

Dana was.

And everything changes
And nothing is truly lost
-Neil Gaiman

(Still open to ideas about a unique sign-off)