Hard work vs. Smartishness

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paledragon64
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Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby paledragon64 » Tue Feb 24, 2009 4:32 am UTC

Have you ever experienced someone in your classes that appears really smart and achieves all As...but isn't really that smart in reality? I know one in my math class, and it was a really funny experience with her I had today. We were discussing the amount of time it takes for someone to swim across a river, when a current pushing against it. She couldn't understand that when the current pushed against the swimmer left-right, it never effects the y component vector of the speed. Thus, the time it takes remains the same, right? She just couldn't get her head around it, and it took about five min. to explain it to her. :roll: There was also an instance in AP US, where we had a debate topic, and a different girl was commenting (bragging?) about how she researched it all, and had flowcharts, etc. And then one of my friends took her entire argument apart with a simple point she couldn't answer. It was incredibly ironic and hilarious.

So do you have any of these people too? What are they like?

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby darkspork » Tue Feb 24, 2009 5:07 am UTC

paledragon64 wrote:A girl was commenting (bragging?) about how she researched it all [for the debate], and had flowcharts, etc. And then one of my friends took her entire argument apart with a simple point she couldn't answer. It was incredibly ironic and hilarious.


It's called parents. they made the flowcharts and did the research.
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby Ben_ » Tue Feb 24, 2009 5:14 am UTC

darkspork wrote:
paledragon64 wrote:A girl was commenting (bragging?) about how she researched it all [for the debate], and had flowcharts, etc. And then one of my friends took her entire argument apart with a simple point she couldn't answer. It was incredibly ironic and hilarious.


It's called parents. they made the flowcharts and did the research.


Not necessarily. There's people in my classes who make all A's, have perfect projects that they do make themselves.. But have no grasp on how to actually do it sometimes. like, they have amazing work ethic to make up for lack of the being born to just get it.
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby qinwamascot » Tue Feb 24, 2009 7:10 am UTC

She couldn't understand that when the current pushed against the swimmer left-right, it never effects the y component vector of the speed


The way I interpret the question you posed leads me to believe that she should go slower. Consider this example:

A swimmer can swim in still water 5 m/s. What if there is a current of 4 m/s perpendicular to the river? If she still swims at 5 m/s strait forwards, she'll also be moving left or right, and eventually crash into the bank. To offset the current in the river, her component of force exerted must yield a speed of -4 m/s, leaving only 3 m/s left as her final speed.

But, the question is not clear from how it's posed. If the river is infinitely wide and distance is measured only in y, not x, then your answer is correct. Mine assumes the river to be basically a line.

But back to the point, I totally know a few people like this. They can do well, but don't really understand anything. I also knew people who were the opposite--incredibly smart, but lacked the ability to even pass high school.
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby masher » Tue Feb 24, 2009 7:37 am UTC

qinwamascot wrote:
A swimmer can swim in still water 5 m/s. What if there is a current of 4 m/s perpendicular to the river? If she still swims at 5 m/s strait forwards, she'll also be moving left or right, and eventually crash into the bank. To offset the current in the river, her component of force exerted must yield a speed of -4 m/s, leaving only 3 m/s left as her final speed.


Who said the swimmer had to offset the current?

Swim straight across the river (wrt the swimmer) and you'll take the same amount of time; you'll just end up a fair way down the river.

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby gerb » Tue Feb 24, 2009 7:57 pm UTC

When I score high on a test the teacher asks me how long I studied for it, to give the other students an example for how long they're expected to study.
I really don't study. Maybe a quick review before the teacher hands out the test/quiz, but I'm not up for hours the night before trying to memorize everything.
The teacher gets mad. :roll:

My sister's different, though. She's smart, but some things it takes her piles of working and studying at something to really get it. She's at the top of her class right now. :mrgreen:
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Feb 24, 2009 8:32 pm UTC

I have to say, I spent along time really appreciating the 'smart' over the 'hardworking' and used that to attribute my mediocre grades. Now, I wish I was a harder worker, and had better work ethic. Being 'smart' will only get you so far. Don't think that it'll get you all the way. For every 'ironic' story you have about someone putting hours into a research project and having it all unravel because they can't answer a single point, I can point you to a very intelligent person who had their butt kicked because they weren't prepared.
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby qinwamascot » Tue Feb 24, 2009 9:42 pm UTC

masher wrote:
qinwamascot wrote:
A swimmer can swim in still water 5 m/s. What if there is a current of 4 m/s perpendicular to the river? If she still swims at 5 m/s strait forwards, she'll also be moving left or right, and eventually crash into the bank. To offset the current in the river, her component of force exerted must yield a speed of -4 m/s, leaving only 3 m/s left as her final speed.


Who said the swimmer had to offset the current?

Swim straight across the river (wrt the swimmer) and you'll take the same amount of time; you'll just end up a fair way down the river.


I misread the question, and interpreted it that you were swimming down the river and the current was left to right or right to left. If you are swimming across the river, it makes no difference what the current is perpendicular to the path if you don't care where you end up.
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby Rhombulus » Wed Feb 25, 2009 3:01 am UTC

Yeah, I get that feeling a lot - even in fairly simple classes, people just don't get it sometimes.
Usually it just takes explaining it to them >9000 times until something finally cuts on in their brain and they just get it.
It's frustrating, I suppose, but hey, if that's what I've gotta work with, then that's all I've got.
I make mostly high A's without much studying, but I just despise it when people say they hate you (without sarcasm) simply because they're jealous of your higher scores. I feel like saying, "OK, so I'm good at subject x. Do you want me to go headbutt a sidewalk or something so you can be better than me?"
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby PhatPhungus » Wed Feb 25, 2009 5:12 am UTC

I generally fall into the catagory of smartishness, which is obnoxious because it means that even when my test average is over 100%, I still have a C in the class because I wouldn't put up with the busywork.

Generally, the harder the class, the higher my grade in it.
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby keeperofdakeys » Wed Feb 25, 2009 7:31 am UTC

I'm the person who doesn't need to do much study for maths, I just get it
but I feel guilty when other people have to work harder

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby TheKrikkitWars » Wed Feb 25, 2009 9:24 am UTC

I've always been a "Just Get It" person, I don't feel bad for the people who don't, because neither of us can help that... my motivation has improved significantly in recent months, so I'm working hardish now, one might say I have the academic equivalent of a "raging semi".
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby Dimetrodon » Thu Feb 26, 2009 2:06 am UTC

PhatPhungus wrote:Generally, the harder the class, the higher my grade in it.

Oh, gosh, same here. I think all of my teachers expect me to have great grades in their classes based on when I talk to them, but that sadly is not the case.
Part of it might just be laziness on my part, but the work is also boring as hell.
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby PurpleMint » Thu Feb 26, 2009 4:11 am UTC

I think tend toward the Smartishness end of the spectrum. In scienc e class, I can sometimes finish half my homework in the sixty seconds before the period ends. Then the next day I'll discover I forgot the units or something.

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby zug » Fri Feb 27, 2009 2:39 am UTC

I'm smart and (now unmotivated). In high sch00l I always did the busy work because my teachers were my role models, and I thought grades were The Most Important Thing in the World(tm).

I dropped out of college once I figured out that grades don't mean shit.
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby spent » Fri Feb 27, 2009 6:26 am UTC

It would really depend upon how you define "smart." Just because someone doesn't "get it" right away, doesn't necessarily mean they're any "dumber" than someone who does. Everyone learns in different ways, and it's how you apply that knowledge that really counts. Plus a lot of "smartishness" is acquired through hard work.

Sure there's natural ability, but I'd say someone with loads of natural ability who doesn't apply himself is far more the idiot than someone who puts in that extra effort to realize his aspirations.

Okay, i'm not totally dense, i get what the OP means - that there are some students whose grades seem to be artificially inflated, that they've somehow managed to work the system such that their marks are not reflective of their ability. Unfortunately that's an artifact of an education system that indoctrinates rather than inspires.

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Feb 27, 2009 6:42 am UTC

Most of the posts on this thread sound pretty arrogant.
Someone who gets good grades because they work hard and pay attention to the syllabus is not 'artificial inflation'. It's knowing what the professor wants and giving it to them. If you think you're 'smarter' then someone who is doing this, but your grades are crappier, I'm of the persuasion you aren't doing much to support your case.
What are you going to put on your resume when applying for a job, "Didn't work at all, has shitty grades, and won't put in the long term effort, but is really smart"?
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby TheKrikkitWars » Fri Feb 27, 2009 10:28 am UTC

Well, I didn't try much and I got very high grades, which is where your argument fails.

In any case, an employer has some jobs that require intelligent, resourceful people with specific aptitude (hence the rise of job aptitude tests, testing centre days, etc.) and other jobs that require competent following of many complex procedures, which requires a totally different type of person.

If you're actually good at things, and will do work at work, being lazy in school won't hold you back that much.
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Feb 27, 2009 5:44 pm UTC

You aren't the only person responding on this thread, and my response was not singularly directed at you.

TheKrikkitWars wrote:In any case, an employer has some jobs that require intelligent, resourceful people with specific aptitude (hence the rise of job aptitude tests, testing centre days, etc.) and other jobs that require competent following of many complex procedures, which requires a totally different type of person.


And work ethic is required for both those positions. If a letter of recommendation from a professor states "Candidate was unwilling to do anything beyond the barest of minimum, but they 'get it' quickly" I'd be surprised if positions were offered.

My point is most of the voices on this thread seem to be saying something to the effect of "I'm smart, I get stuff easily, and the people who are dumb, but work hard, are lame".

spent wrote:Sure there's natural ability, but I'd say someone with loads of natural ability who doesn't apply himself is far more the idiot than someone who puts in that extra effort to realize his aspirations.


I don't agree with the rest of what spent said about artifacts of the education system and whatnot, but this sums up what a lot of the people responding on this thread need to hear.
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby zug » Fri Feb 27, 2009 9:41 pm UTC

I think it depends on your base motivations in school. Are you there to look good compared to your peers, are you just passing time to get a job and start getting paid as soon as possible, are you there because you have no other choice?

Intelligent people may be either motivated or unmotivated. And a less intelligent, motivated person will go farther than the unmotivated intelligent person. That's common sense.

However, unless you're working for the NSA or equivalent government agency, prospective employers don't ask for your college GPA. They may ask how long it took you to obtain your degree, but the piece of paper matters much more than how you got it.

Grades in high school determine what college you go to and how much you can get knocked off the sticker price. College grades are meaningless. The only reason I cared about grades in college was because I'd lose my scholarship if I didn't get a 3.5
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby Dimetrodon » Sat Feb 28, 2009 6:41 am UTC

I had a lot of my own feelings validated by this article: http://www.geocities.com/josh_shaine/insideout.html. I think it's relevant enough to be worth posting.

I also think that while it is easily possible for someone to do hard work and be smart, it's also easily possible for them to exclude each other. The article covers this, I believe.
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby alexgmcm » Sat Feb 28, 2009 12:34 pm UTC

To be honest, I think the reason why all the posts in this thread are like "I'm smart and don't need to work hard" are because its almost seen as a sign of weakness to work hard.

I have no problem admitting that I work hard for my grades, I could have taken 3 A levels like most people and gotten A's relatively easily, but instead I chose to do five, and so far I have achieved As although I haven't taken the finals yet, however taking the extra subjects which allowed me to study all the science and maths subjects meant that I have had to work hard. I chose to do it because I personally believe that work ethic, like everything else, gets better with practice and it wouldn't do me any good to get used to hitting top grades with little effort when I am about to goto University where that will almost certainly not be the case.

Besides although having a lot of work can be stressful at times, at least afterward it feels like I spent the time doing something worthwhile whereas I'd be worried that if I had more spare time I'd just waste it.

So yeah, I think that it is possible to use 'smartishness' to get good grades with little effort, but if that is the case, then take more/harder classes and make sure you work hard so you can keep your work ethic up or you will just damage your chances of success in the end.

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby Miro » Sat Feb 28, 2009 7:40 pm UTC

Alex I have to disagree, I personally think that alot of the "I dont work hard, Im just smart" posts are genuine. The United States public schools system is laughably pathetic.

Personally, Im just lazy. In highschool I did the bare minimum to get a low B. Its the same now Im in college, only I dropped it down to a C in my gen-eds and electives. I just dont see a point in slaving away for a class that really doesnt matter. Ill go the extra mile and write about Briseis when everyone else is focusing on Achiles, but for the mundane bi-weekly math assignment I typically ignore it.

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby zug » Sun Mar 01, 2009 7:52 pm UTC

alexgmcm wrote:To be honest, I think the reason why all the posts in this thread are like "I'm smart and don't need to work hard" are because its almost seen as a sign of weakness to work hard.

You have to analyze the audience. People who read xkcd and people who post to these fora are not generally people of average intellect. I never studied for tests in secondary education--I just did the homework. I ended up valedictorian of my class and no academic grade (I don't count P.E.) below an A- from 6th grade to 12th grade. Does that speak to my effort, or to the school I attended and my classmates there?

I'm going with the latter.

I saw plenty of people who worked very very hard just to get Cs (I remember one girl in my Spanish classes especially... just had NO facility with language and a terrible memory for foreign pronunciation, but she still worked her ass off not to get a failing grade).

The point is that substantial effort is not required to be successful, but I suppose it depends on your measure of success. For example: a latina girl grows up in a bilingual household, easily obtaining As in both Spanish and English all through school. She ends up as a translator for the AT&T language line, making obscene amounts of money translating phone calls for corporations. Yes, the job requires effort, but it's doing something that comes naturally to her anyway.

How do you measure success? As long as I have a decent paycheck coming in and am reasonably happy with how I got it, I don't need to excel in my field or exert 100 times more effort than the guy in the next cubicle. There's no argument that I could always perform better. We ALL can. But there's a line beyond which it's silly to exert more. There are diminishing returns. From my point of view, I am exerting the minimum effort required to succeed in my job. And yet, I perform better than everyone else on my team, I work the fastest with fewest mistakes. Why should I work harder than this when (because of smarts) I'm already doing better than everyone else?
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:27 pm UTC

I would toss in the addendum of being challenged. A couple people have chimed in saying that the difficulty of the class determines the effort they put into it, which while a sentiment I wish I couldn't, I can relate to.

If I'm doing rote shit at work, I do it half assedly and probably bring my iPod touch along to surf the internet while I'm doing the routine. If I'm trying to piece together a confuzzling bit of the puzzle, I can micromanage and multitask the shit out of things.

But by no means would I qualify success as being able to coast through life putting out the minimal amount of effort and flawlessly performing your responsibilities. I look at people who can say that and can only ask myself why they were so terrified of failure.
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby MarshyMarsh » Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:34 pm UTC

I know it sounds bad, but I know exactly what you are on about.

Several people in my classes are fine to learn, but can never grasp the concept. I find it entertaining to see some persons 50 page long statistical coursework to be beaten by my rushed 2 hour piece.
Somepeople really have to work to get their grades, now don't get me wrong, I do work hard if I begin to fail (recently got an E in my physics test, I really should pay attention). But most of the time i just seem to float through school.
There appears to be an almost natural intelligence, and learned intelligence.

[quote=alexgmcm] To be honest, I think the reason why all the posts in this thread are like "I'm smart and don't need to work hard" are because its almost seen as a sign of weakness to work hard.[/quote]

On the contrary, we still find alot of satisfaction in the little work we do. I was told by my teacher an employeer would look more favourably on a student who got all B's but worked hard all year than someone who got all A's and never lifted a finger. I can see where she is coming from, but if company A has X, The former person can work hard to produce X to a resonable standard. But the latter person can produce X in a very small amount of time and then go on to produce Y and Z.

Am I also right in saying that most of the people here need pressure to do their assignments, if I am given 2 months for a piece of coursework you can guarentee I will not start until a day or maybe 2 before the deadline?

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby Clumpy » Mon Mar 02, 2009 5:42 am UTC

Many 4.0 High School students are just motivated perfectionists who know how to win the favor of their teachers. They'll either be successful or have a meltdown.

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby xzarakizraiia » Mon Mar 02, 2009 5:50 am UTC

In high school I had a touch of the 'smart but lazy,' but I've largely reformed myself in college. Grades at college might not mean very much if you're going into the work force, but I'm hoping to go to grad school and I'm very, very happy that I was with it enough from the beginning to maintain a good GPA. Being able to declare a major and focus on that area has made college much more intellectually fulfilling in high school, so fortunately that has lead me to work harder than I used to.

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby Iori_Yagami » Mon Mar 02, 2009 1:29 pm UTC

I respect hard-working and pervasive ones more than smarty-pants. That's all I wanted to add. :|
Also, it is amazing, but I have to agree to Izawwlgood on many points.
Finally, being smart and at the same time too lazy to use it, is both lazy and... not very smart. If you can do more, why don't you? As one of PT teachers said: "Until it starts hurting, your effort is not big enough."
As for useless grades... grapes are sour, yes, they are!
And, superfinally, grades can and should measure both ability AND effort. Usually both, with different school systems and cultures having different emphasis on each one.
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby Dani » Mon Mar 02, 2009 2:27 pm UTC

I can relate. There is a girl at my school who works so hard it blows my mind. One year her term mark in math was 101%. Seriously. She did it thanks to bonus stuff obviously. Anyway, I have a lot of respect for her, even though she isn't very intelligent. however, she stays up until 2a.m. doing homework, something I could never do, and so she earns my respect. I like to tease her about working to hard though, but that's mostly just because I'd like her to realise that she is working too hard and just relax a little. She stresses about things far too much.

Anyway, I'm pretty intelligent, but intelligence without hard work will get you nowhere. If you don't care you'll just get an average job and that person who worked harder than you will be much better off. Her hard work kind of inspires me a little. I'd like to do much better than average, so I will have to work hard. No avoiding it.
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby alexgmcm » Mon Mar 02, 2009 4:30 pm UTC

Iori_Yagami wrote:I respect hard-working and pervasive ones more than smarty-pants. That's all I wanted to add. :|
Also, it is amazing, but I have to agree to Izawwlgood on many points.
Finally, being smart and at the same time too lazy to use it, is both lazy and... not very smart. If you can do more, why don't you? As one of PT teachers said: "Until it starts hurting, your effort is not big enough."
As for useless grades... grapes are sour, yes, they are!
And, superfinally, grades can and should measure both ability AND effort. Usually both, with different school systems and cultures having different emphasis on each one.



I agree with you, I have much more respect for those that work hard, even if they achieve slightly lower grades, than those who treat the subject with so little respect.

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby spent » Mon Mar 02, 2009 9:13 pm UTC

Iori_Yagami wrote:And, superfinally, grades can and should measure both ability AND effort. Usually both, with different school systems and cultures having different emphasis on each one.


I couldn't disagree more :)

You're right grades can measure effort (and for higher education they usually do) but I don't think they should. Grades should be in place to measure ability. Period.

Someone who barely lifts a finger AND does better is still more competent than someone who puts in hours of extra work. Don't get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for someone who works hard, but sometimes life isn't fair and trying just isn't enough.

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby jakemaheu » Mon Mar 02, 2009 11:04 pm UTC

alexgmcm wrote:To be honest, I think the reason why all the posts in this thread are like "I'm smart and don't need to work hard" are because its almost seen as a sign of weakness to work hard.

Honestly, I think you're right.

Now, before I'm thrown off a cliff, let me explain. My dad has always told me to work smarter, not harder.

We are smart, but I think that because many of us are more left-hemispherical, we look for the most efficient way to do something (like parkour but with maths).
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby exquisite tea » Mon Mar 02, 2009 11:59 pm UTC

paledragon64 wrote:Have you ever experienced someone in your classes that appears really smart and achieves all As...but isn't really that smart in reality? I know one in my math class, and it was a really funny experience with her I had today. We were discussing the amount of time it takes for someone to swim across a river, when a current pushing against it. She couldn't understand that when the current pushed against the swimmer left-right, it never effects the y component vector of the speed. Thus, the time it takes remains the same, right? She just couldn't get her head around it, and it took about five min. to explain it to her. :roll: There was also an instance in AP US, where we had a debate topic, and a different girl was commenting (bragging?) about how she researched it all, and had flowcharts, etc. And then one of my friends took her entire argument apart with a simple point she couldn't answer. It was incredibly ironic and hilarious.

So do you have any of these people too? What are they like?


i bet they were smart enough to know what 'ironic' means though, huh?

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby Alpha Omicron » Tue Mar 03, 2009 12:04 am UTC

I encountered I case of someone who worked pretty hard (school was practically her whole life) but who was kind of dumb when it came to figuring anything out for herself. Put the answer in the textbook and she'll memorize the hell out of it though.
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby AverellTorrent » Tue Mar 03, 2009 3:17 am UTC

That's the kind of person the school system creates. Somebody who's good with presenting regurgitated information and reading what other people think, but with no real ability to think for themselves. If you actually think, you end up spending twice as much time and effort as you would if you just bullshit your way through. And sometimes the bullshitting gets a better grade. It's all about telling the teacher what he/she wants to hear.

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby Darkly » Tue Mar 03, 2009 3:34 am UTC

AverellTorrent wrote:That's the kind of person the school system creates. Somebody who's good with presenting regurgitated information and reading what other people think, but with no real ability to think for themselves. If you actually think, you end up spending twice as much time and effort as you would if you just bullshit your way through. And sometimes the bullshitting gets a better grade. It's all about telling the teacher what he/she wants to hear.


This is sadly true. There are people who take their grades seriously, and there are people who take their education seriously - its usually pretty easy to tell the difference. It doesn't help matters that the way school is structured (at least in my experience) its pretty easy to get A's without actually understanding very much... especially in areas like history, english and foreign languages where memorization is key.

I never really wanted to become a teacher, but I've been tempted to pursue it after seeing how poorly some classes are structured in high school.

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby Velict » Tue Mar 03, 2009 3:55 am UTC

AverellTorrent wrote:That's the kind of person the school system creates. Somebody who's good with presenting regurgitated information and reading what other people think, but with no real ability to think for themselves. If you actually think, you end up spending twice as much time and effort as you would if you just bullshit your way through. And sometimes the bullshitting gets a better grade. It's all about telling the teacher what he/she wants to hear.


Some classes are like that, certainly. In my experience, however, it depends a lot on the students we're talking about. Some students really just don't like to think. To put it frankly, they're not as intellectually gifted as some students. Most classes in schools have to cater to the average student, and the average student isn't willing or isn't capable to put forth the effort to genuinely think and learn. As such,the schools simply have to work with what they're given, and just settle to get these students to memorize information and hope they retain it.

However, particularly at larger schools, there's often a significant portion of students who are intelligent, who do want to learn. The school, ideally, offers courses for them that are rigorous and thought-provoking, and generally satisfying to take. At my school, the most difficult classes (our AP and college-accredited courses) are mostly filled with students like this, and class is genuinely interesting. It becomes far less about the grade and more about the experience of learning.

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby AverellTorrent » Tue Mar 03, 2009 4:29 am UTC

Velict wrote:
AverellTorrent wrote:That's the kind of person the school system creates. Somebody who's good with presenting regurgitated information and reading what other people think, but with no real ability to think for themselves. If you actually think, you end up spending twice as much time and effort as you would if you just bullshit your way through. And sometimes the bullshitting gets a better grade. It's all about telling the teacher what he/she wants to hear.


Some classes are like that, certainly. In my experience, however, it depends a lot on the students we're talking about. Some students really just don't like to think. To put it frankly, they're not as intellectually gifted as some students. Most classes in schools have to cater to the average student, and the average student isn't willing or isn't capable to put forth the effort to genuinely think and learn. As such,the schools simply have to work with what they're given, and just settle to get these students to memorize information and hope they retain it.

However, particularly at larger schools, there's often a significant portion of students who are intelligent, who do want to learn. The school, ideally, offers courses for them that are rigorous and thought-provoking, and generally satisfying to take. At my school, the most difficult classes (our AP and college-accredited courses) are mostly filled with students like this, and class is genuinely interesting. It becomes far less about the grade and more about the experience of learning.
That's another thing I hate about the system. Catering to the average students and the bad student is all they seem to care about. Meanwhile there are kids with unbelievable potential to do great things that are being ignored. If they would focus on sharpening and refining the education of those kids, they would help said kids realize their potential. They could aspire to great things. But as it is they tell you that you're just like everybody else, that you aren't any more important, and that putting effort towards greatness is futile - you should just spout crap like everybody else because you'll never achieve anything that great in the "real world".

I have an interesting bit of experience, though. Out of all of my years in school, I have had only one teacher that really encouraged me to think. She didn't teach me what to think; she taught me how to. Because of her I learned to find my own voice. She taught me to speak up about what I think, instead of automatically assuming that I'm either wrong or redundant. There is a more curious thing about this teacher and her class though. And that is that her class was not hard at all. I would never call it rigorous or difficult. At times I found it outright easy. It was not easy because I had less work. It was easy because I didn't have to work in an uncomfortably small box anymore. She made me write what I thought. I could do it because she made it very clear, without saying so, that what I really thought was what she wanted to hear. It was natural and real. It was right.

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby Velict » Tue Mar 03, 2009 5:07 am UTC

AverellTorrent wrote:That's another thing I hate about the system. Catering to the average students and the bad student is all they seem to care about. Meanwhile there are kids with unbelievable potential to do great things that are being ignored. If they would focus on sharpening and refining the education of those kids, they would help said kids realize their potential. They could aspire to great things. But as it is they tell you that you're just like everybody else, that you aren't any more important, and that putting effort towards greatness is futile - you should just spout crap like everybody else because you'll never achieve anything that great in the "real world".


Unfortunately, schools have to cater towards the average student. If they don't, chances are, they'll be leaving the majority of kids in the dust while those few gifted students have their every whim met. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few when it comes to education, as most things in life. It's very difficult to quantifiably describe one human being as superior to another, and even if you can, there's likely to a backlash of public will against you if you ignore the average and focus on the extraordinary. While the extraordinary may be able to accomplish more given the proper impetus, one cannot simply live a sizable majority of the population behind in the process. There must be a balance in education; and, unfortunately, schools seem to stack this balance in the favor of the majority to play it safe.

I have an interesting bit of experience, though. Out of all of my years in school, I have had only one teacher that really encouraged me to think. She didn't teach me what to think; she taught me how to. Because of her I learned to find my own voice. She taught me to speak up about what I think, instead of automatically assuming that I'm either wrong or redundant. There is a more curious thing about this teacher and her class though. And that is that her class was not hard at all. I would never call it rigorous or difficult. At times I found it outright easy. It was not easy because I had less work. It was easy because I didn't have to work in an uncomfortably small box anymore. She made me write what I thought. I could do it because she made it very clear, without saying so, that what I really thought was what she wanted to hear. It was natural and real. It was right.


On the topic of teachers that encourage thinking and how to think, however, I have to put forth an example of my own. Freshman year in high school, I took a class called "Ancient Civilizations" - your run of the mill history class, at first glance. As I got immersed into the class, however, I was fascinated at what it actually was. Three or four days a week, for homework, we were given a scholarly paper on one civilization or another - Neanderthals, Sumerians, Egyptians, Scythians, whatever - and told to analyze the article for bias and assess the quality of the argument in it in a 1-2 page paper. What we actually argued was unimportant, so long as we were able to support our argument with textual examples and good reasoning. It wasn't just learning to write what I thought, as you described, but learning how to think critically and painstakingly support my own argument with citations and detail.

The class had an interesting focus, in my opinion - it wasn't the thinking that was important. The first day of class, my teacher gave a lecture about why simply having an opinion about an issue was utterly worthless: everyone has an opinion, so yours is only distinguished by having powerful reasoning behind it. I felt that I learned far than ancient history; I learned how to think critically and deconstruct arguments to their bare logic, which I've found invaluable in the time since. Facts weren't nearly as useful as being able to argue something effectively. For our tests, we were given a blank sheet of paper with three or four short essay prompts on them that we had to answer. Grades on those essays were nearly as much based on carefully supporting your argument with concrete and specific facts as they were on the facts themselves; unfortunately, in a topic like history, there's only room for so much of a difference of opinion before you are arguing something blatantly contrary to reality (although, to be fair, you'll rapidly run out of factual support at that point).

In an odd contrast to your example, though, my class was nothing if not rigorous. Having to write the equivalent of 4 well-developed essays a week, graded on the AP writing scale (fairly difficult if you're not familiar with it) during Freshman year of high school was tough. Having tests and a final that consisted of frantically constructing a series of essays was no mean task, either. I never found it overwhelming, in part because I thoroughly enjoyed the style and material, but I would be intellectually dishonest of I said it was easy and I didn't have to work hard.


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