Out of the IQ Closet
Dreamed 2008/5/7 by Wayan
for all my annoyed classmates over the years
First day of a new class. We're reluctant to answer our teacher's questions. But they're framed badly, full of assumptions getting in our way; the over-helpful prompts of an inexperienced mentor. Frustrating all round.
I let my classmates answer; never speak up. We're all reluctant, but I'm the only one dead silent. The teacher glares at me more and more, wanting some response. Finally I grit my teet and answer one involved, difficult question with a verbal essay proving I know this topic in my sleep. Ace it and go silent again.
She breaks into angry tears. "You played stupid? You withheld your insight through the whole hour? I'm so insulted! What'd I do to YOU to deserve this?"
I tell her.
"You're pointing at me, but ALL of us were reluctant to speak; I didn't cause your teaching problems and I'm not paid to fix them. And if I do point out your unexamined assumptions and biases, can you take my criticism and be fair to me later? I don't know you.
"And whether I speak up or not, every class eventually figures out I'm a prodigy. Then I get everyone's prejudices and stereotypes about geniuses, from fears I'll skew the grading to assumptions I'm attention-grabbing or a snob to attempts to exploit my brain for your own causes.
"I'm faced with this in EVERY class. When to speak, when to let awkward silences grow? I can't answer every question, it's unfair to my classmates. Shouldn't they make their own mistakes and discoveries? Pre-empting that is wrong.
"And yes, I am singling you out, but not how you think. Coming out of the closet on the first day is unusually trusting for me; I never do that. But you asked honestly; you deserve an honest answer. Consider it a compliment."
And I wake. Realizing I just spelled out, in the dream, why learning is a universal pleasure for the severely gifted, but school is a friggin' social minefield. Not because all nerds lack social skills. Because we face a social juggling act others don't acknowledge.
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