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Calling all Nerds

Paul Graham has written an interesting article "Why Nerds are Unpopular" http://www.paulgraham.com/nerds.html

As a jock I felt it was my duty to point it out to the nerds ;)

Matthew Lock
Tuesday, February 18, 2003

I read it yesterday (technically today wee hours of the morning), and pretty much agreed with him on quite a few things.

The paragraph that really grabbed my attention was “If
I could go back and give my thirteen year old self
some advice, the main thing I'd tell him would be to
stick his head up and look around.”

Like most of his articles, it was analysed pretty well, and as usual he did a great job of writing it.

Prakash S
Tuesday, February 18, 2003

While you are at it: Could you please let everyone know which table would you have been sitting on (A,B,C,D,E)

- i would be put myself somewhere between C & D (more likely on the floor between tables C & D :-))

Prakash S
Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Oh. My. You mean I wasn't the only one?

(I mean, yeah, I know I wasn't the only nerd in junior high. But he described things so perfectly, it's as if he lived through those same hellish years.)

If you can't tell, I was definitely a D.

Martha
Tuesday, February 18, 2003

I went to high school in the UK and Australia and it was nothing like what I have read about in the US. We barely had any kind of jock/nerd thing happening.

Can any other Brits/Aussies confirm what I experienced?

Matthew Lock
Tuesday, February 18, 2003

On second thoughts I went to school in the UK near Manchester and everyone was sport (soccer) mad, so maybe we were all jocks or something.

Matthew Lock
Tuesday, February 18, 2003

FYI: I did most of my schooling in India, but still consider that quite a few things applied to me.

Prakash S
Tuesday, February 18, 2003

I have always thought of high school as something I would have been better off skipping.  But I have no fondness for junior high or elementary school either.

My favorite movie is "Revenge of the Nerds", one of the few where I can, at least somewhat, identify with the main characters.  However, my experience was a bit different from Paul's.  Having both severe shyness and severe acne,  I wasn't even part of the D table group.

Some alternatives to regular public school, such as home schooling and vouchers to help more people choose private schools, are becoming more popular and offer a bit of hope for the future.  These are rather small steps, though.

mackinac
Tuesday, February 18, 2003

I would've been a solid table C.

An interesting theory is that sexual affirmation plays a large role in shaping learned behavior.  As un-politically correct as it is to say, this works differently between men and women.  Girls are rewarded with sexual attention by factors that are largely out of their control (looks).  Boys have a negative coorelation between what society considers "admirable" qualities (kindness, serenity, cooperation, motivation) and what a 14 year old girl is willing to reward with sexual attention.

This sets up a different feedback loop for men and women, and partially explains why the sexes are so fundamentally different.

Unfortunately, this feedback loop works its magic during preteen and teen years, when personality and subconscious self-awareness are still being formed.

Bill Carlson
Tuesday, February 18, 2003

So that explains why I'm a screw ball!

Realist
Tuesday, February 18, 2003

From the article: 'A tables were full of football players and cheerleaders and so on. E tables contained the kids with mild cases of Down's Syndrome, what in the language of the time we called "retards."'

Uh, so what's the difference between the A and the E table?

Somebody had to say it!

DefinitelyAnonymous
Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Home schooling.  Sure, that will solve the whole thing.  Remember, dude, these kids may actually have to function in society someday.  You know what?  I was perfectly happy until they figured out I had an IQ of 145 and sent me to a "magnet" school.  I didn't know the "magnet" part attracted assholes ready to hate me for being smart.  But as much as I pleaded to go back to the old school, my parents thought I should stick it out.

Home schooling is the dumbest solution ever to the nerd problem.  What you really need is to have good parents like mine who just listened to their children and helped them get through the bullshit and grow up.  Home schooling will turn smart kids who think they're "retards" into ACTUAL retards of the social variety.

On those many Friday nights when I sat around my house with my parents watching old black and white movies, in utter despair because nobody wanted to hang out with me, I never believed my parents when they said things would change, but dammit, they were right! 

Besides, everyone has problems, even the most popular.  In college, after I shed the nerd image, I was dating a former prom queen / cheerleader / all-around hottie.  She was not a ditz at all, and she told me that she had some serious emotional issues dealing with the popularity she had.  Kids were constantly trying to gain her favor.  They started horrible rumors whenever she temporarily fell from grace.  It was just as bad as anything I'd ever felt, and maybe worse.

I hope my kid is goddam nerd; it's worked awesome for me--I'm going to be rich, and those dudes in high school are only going to get dumber and fatter from watching football on television while sucking down cans of Pabst.

Anonymous
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

You know, the following aren't always true:

a) not-popular = smart.
b) popular = dumb.

GetOverIt
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

My attendance at schools was so patchy I'm not sure I could claim to be experienced about English schools, but in general I think the 'jock' 'nerd' thing is unlikely here.

We don't have sports scholarships or highly funded sports programs at any level of education, there's little likelihood that sports people (who are primarily interested in sports), are differentiated from others.

On the other hand we have 'anoraks' and 'train-spotters', wearers of duffle coats, parkas and the like.

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

In Russian schools the situation is almost supernaturally similar to what Paul Graham describes. So similar that I'm starting to find it quite funny that sending children to study in America is getting increasingly popular here.
The point of a strong family is a good one, although it is not a panacea. My wife had a very strong family and many friends outside of school, but still she was bullied a lot at school and she recalls these times with great reluctance. Yet on the other hand, maybe it would be even worse if her family would be like most families here.
And an additional point - almost all my fellow programmers are definite nerds, and the department that I graduated from was almost completely a nerd-society :)

Michael Skulsky
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

I think the "nerd" system is alive and well in Britain, and the article made a lot of sense to me.

You're right to suggest the focus on sport is less here than in the US, but I remember a lot of kids signing up for football, rugby or athletics, partly because of peer pressure and partly because of the PE teacher's demands.

I started off on the 'D' table from an early age, but started to climb up the ranks from about 17 onwards. At the same time, the quality of schoolwork dropped. I eventually twigged that education != work, made loads of new friends (several of whom I've known for over 10 years and have become friends for life) and lost all interest. This explains why I did well at school but only just scraped through college (something every interviewer I've ever known wants to know about).

It's only in recent years that I've decided it's "okay" to become a "nerd" again (albeit one with more social elan than in my teenage years).

Better than being unemployed...
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

I always marched on my own drum - I'm not a follower nor I want people to follow me. I couldn't care less about my popularity ratings and I've never been intimidated by hostile behavior of any kind.

If people put a mark on me, so be it, I don't care, I'm perfectly happy with how and what I am and I enjoy every single minute of it ... 8)

Back on the topic, IMO the article reflects reality closely. Kids are sincere and they act accordingly. Plus they would do whatever it takes to fight social rejection.

The article is right, we should acknowledge social rejection as a serious problem and handle it accordingly. Ignoring it is not an option.

Cheers
Dino

Dino
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

In a world of marketing driven youth idolisation waving a flag of "freedom" before all, we have given control to the young and they created their own nightmare.
What was so easy to give away is nearly impossible to take back.
Intelligence will be just a blip in evolutionary history.

Just me (Sir to you)
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Just Me and everybody else,

you may find this an interesting read

http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/rushkoff/rushkoff_index.html

Dino

Dino
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

so many of us see it the way Paul saw it.  Glad I'm not alone!

But interesting to compare with the rather anti- impression I got when I skimmed the slashdot posts..

So is jos the grown-up D table and slashdot full of As and Bs eh?

/.not
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Here in the UK everything was much more financial, at least at my school.

For example, the wearing of the correct trainers was everything.  Boys with £70 trainers (this represented almost an entire weeks income for my family) were greatly admired. 

Wearing cheap, market brought trainers like mine were a social no-no.

Ged Byrne
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

I was the Quarterback for the Varsity and I dated the Validictorian...  I worked 30 hours a week at the local TV station where I played on the Charity hockey team (think travelling carnival), drove a Barracuda and was on the chess team.  Sounds idyllic doesn't it?  Sometimes it was but most of the time I felt (and was treated) exactly the same irrespective of the stool my ass occupied.  Unsure, scared and completely out of my element.

B#
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

I was a relative nerd in HS.

...up until the point I got a Corvette. It's a jading experience for a 17 year old to go from being at the "C" table, to being at the "A" table just because he drives a spors car.

But heck, I didn't care! I was popular and had chicks after me!  If the women were that shallow, well, it was the least I could to do adjust. <g>

Mark Hoffman
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Man's unique agony as a species consists in his perpetual conflict between the desire to stand out and the need to blend in. -- Sydney J. Harris

B#
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

"Man's unique agony as a species consists in his perpetual conflict between the desire to stand out and the need to blend in. -- Sydney J. Harris "

I like that a lot...

I was alway somewhere in the middle as I grew up, but jumped up a couple of tables by the time I hit middle school ( maybe because I got boobs? :) ). The funny thing is that I didn't know I was smart until I got to college. I discovered I had a knack for learning... when I actually paid attention. I'm a bit of a dreamer.

HeyCoolAid!
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

>>> Home schooling will turn smart kids who think they're "retards" into ACTUAL retards of the social variety. <<<

Does Anonymous have any reason for believing this, or any of the rest of his rant against home schooling? 

As Paul argues, public school is somewhat like a prison, with a social structure resulting from its isolation.  I expect that someone who is home schooled could have proportially more contact with the real world than someone whose social interaction is limited to school.

One can learn rather perverse lessons in social interaction from school that can take a while to unlearn.  The only disadvantage that I can see for the home schooled student is the lack of shared experience of adversity.  They'll just never understand what an unpleasant experience they have missed.

mackinac
Thursday, February 20, 2003

"They'll just never understand what an unpleasant experience they have missed. "

-is that not good?

Prakash S
Thursday, February 20, 2003

I was a solid D through high school. This is despite being a pretty homogenous bunch. Private school in Africa, and no one really had more money than anyone else.

The first time I ever snogged a girl was a few weeks shy of my 19th birthday! That how bad things were.

Through university, I think I steadily moved 'up' the rankings. By the time I was in final year, I was friends with *most* of the beautiful girls. (this is in a university of 15 000 pupils)

Now, I would say I am a definite A. Reasons:: Money does help. So does throwing some of the best house parties in London!

Still lonely though, and would cash it all in for a solid girl.

tapiwa
Thursday, February 20, 2003

HeyCoolAid

"( maybe because I got boobs? :) "

I have a buddy who went to private school in England and based on the stories he's told I desperately hope you aren't male!  That image would haunt me till the end.

B#
Thursday, February 20, 2003

>>> -is that not good?  <<<

I think so.  I suspect that a lot of the strong opposition to home schooling, at least from those who have no basis for it, is a result of the "misery loves company" effect.  Which in this case might be expressed as "my entire adolescence was lost because I had to go to public school.  Why should anyone else be lucky enough to escape?"

But, like most people in this discussion, all I know about home schooling is what I read in the newspapers or on the web.  There is not a lot of information, but from what I have read so far, home schooled students do quite well both academically and socially.  That should be stated as "on the average", because it will always be possible to find exceptional cases at either extreme.

mackinac
Thursday, February 20, 2003

First thought in my mind had to have been: Y'all had tables?!?

I remember two years of lunch on a nice patch of floor.  Preceded by two and a half years of lunch standing up outdoors around the periphery of the picnic area, ready to bolt like a chased rabbit at the slightest sign of danger.

I remember being befriended by one of the E people, not because he was trying to play the status game in any way, but because he was a good human being.  I mean, he was only barely smart enough to recognize there was a game going on that he was losing.  I recently apologized to that guy, for being afraid of his kindness.  Don't think he understood how I feel, not sure he even remembered my name.  But he knew who I was, and he was sure glad to see me happy finally, even if it took ten years after he brought me that daisy.

What can I say, vive l'American educational system!

Mikayla
Thursday, February 20, 2003

I was in US public schools (and so are my kids), but I'm friends with several families that are home schooling their kids.

Contrary to what it sounds like, there can be a lot of interaction with other kids. These parents are smart enough to talk with other home-schooling parents to share ideas and the teaching workload. If one parent has a degree in physics, it only makes sense for them to teach a group of the kids about physics while the parent with the interest in art teaches art (and so on).

They also arrange trips to museums (and other educational places) that involve several familes.

While I'm sure that there some families that go it alone, from what I've seen it's more of a group effort.

RocketJeff
Thursday, February 20, 2003

I am seeing the exact same things that RocketJeff pointed out with regards to Home Schooling.  Seriously considering it for my kids (once I have some).

The problem is that the Home Schooling name has this anti social stigma that really doesn't automatically apply anymore.  It has evolved and socialized, and I'd love to refer to it by a new name.

"Non-Public-School-Prison-Pro-Group-Oriented-Specialized-Instruction-Encourage-Children's-Interests-Reward-Being-Smart Schooling"

The actual name still needs some work...

Scot
Thursday, February 20, 2003

RocketJeff, thanks for providing some real observational data, even if not enough for statistical significance.

I think that the recent increase in popularity of home schooling was due to efforts of religous fundamentalists.  This might give an impression of being isolationist.  It seems to be gaining wider popularity, but I don't have any statistics.  One couple that I know with a year old daughter plans to do it.  20 years ago it was unheard of, even if it was done.

mackinac
Thursday, February 20, 2003

Hey B#!

Just to put your mind at ease... I'm NOT a guy. Hope you didn't have any nightmares!

HeyCoolAid!
Thursday, February 20, 2003

I was homeschooled, and a fair number of my friends were.  I also spend time every week with grade school kids, some of whom are homeschooled.

To me, it's important to avoid taking home schooling to an extreme.  Home schooling shouldn't be an excuse to shelter kids; it should be accompanied by social interaction with other kids, such as neighborhood friends, sports, clubs like Scouts, etc.

Yes, teasing is a fact of life at the grade school level, and parents shouldn't overreact to it.  But every kid is different.  Some kids don't have the emotional tools to handle teasing the way other kids can, and removing a child from that sort of an environment may be the best thing you could do for him or her.

In my opinion, some kids are best suited for home schooling, some for public school, and some for private school.  I've seen all kinds (working and not working).  In fact, my sister is dealing with this right now:  She tried homeschooling her oldest daughter, and it went terribly.  Now she's going to try private school, and we all agree that this will be perfect for her (she's shy and fairly fragile; public school would be a bit too much for her at this stage).

Brent P. Newhall
Thursday, February 20, 2003

I can confirm Matthew Locks experience. Having gone to school in Australia, I have no experience of nerds versus jocks or tables A-D.

I wonder what the difference is between Aussies and Americans that produces such different high school experiences.

RB
Friday, February 21, 2003

HeyCoolAid

<Sigh>  Such a relief!

Now about those breasts!  <g>

B#
Friday, February 21, 2003

Brent, thanks for some actual data points on home schooling.  Home schooling is probably not best for everyone.  One big obvious problem is that it has to work for both the student and the parents who will doing or at least managing the teaching.

Some people complain that home schooling doesn't teach social skills.  Public school does teach social skills, but not very good ones.  Mostly it is what is needed to survive public school. 

mackinac
Friday, February 21, 2003

im in the army i play video games like crazy i wanna be sexxy

please help

www.givemeboobstoo.com

just pass it on if you dont want to donate thats fine also encouragement is also appreciated too.

alisa hurkman
Friday, May 07, 2004

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