Sunday, March 26, 2006

Building Better Geeks Part 1: The Simple Problem

I don't hear many anti-homeschooling comments in person, but the other day I read a troll who stated that "homeschooling turns kids into geeks". I was amazed. Were there really people around who still used "geek" as a pejorative? How '80s could you get!

This is the 21st Century. By now we all know what happens to geeks once they get away from the artificial conformity of the age-segregated school system. Most of them discover others who value their gifts and end up as happy, healthy, creative adults. A few of them wind up stinking rich in the process.

Dictionaries define geek as either "an intellectual" or "socially inept". It's typically used to mean an intellectual who appears socially inept to people in the mainstream. Gee if I didn't want my children to be intellectuals, I shouldn't have married a man with a 185 IQ. Likewise he shouldn't have married me.

I don't think you can "turn" someone into an intellectual. It's a tendency you are born with, just like musical ability. Over the years I've met many young intellectuals who had yet to find anyone who could understand them. They were all miserably unhappy, and opened like seeds in the rain in the presence of other intellectuals.

Then there's the "socially inept" definition. Geeks mainly appear "socially inept" when forced into strict age-segregated environments where they are surrounded by people with whom they have nothing in common save species, geography, and proximity of birth dates. The greater the mix of individuals and the less the expectation of conformity, the better geeks perform. This is especially true of geek children. The solution is obvious, keep geek children away from age-segregated environments that enforce conformity. In other words, homeschool and let them spend their copious free time in non-age-segregated environments. Duh, people.

That said, it's true that geeks of all ages sometimes appear "socially inept" because they are out of step with the dominant culture. I'll discuss that in Building Better Geeks Part 2: The Deeper Problem.


Myrtle said...

Maybe intellectual maturity is like learning a foreign language. The older you are when you are first exposed to it, the harder it is to acquire it. Most often children simply use the word "geek" to describe another kid who is talking about something other than video games or sports. I still hear this word used a lot.

Lioness said...

I know lots of people who use it to describe themselves. I just haven't heard anyone try to use it as an insult in years. These days calling someone a "geek" is flattery.