Hard work vs. Smartishness

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby Jorpho » Sun Nov 14, 2010 2:56 pm UTC

Bingo Little wrote:And oh, I'm not expecting her to know about Kal El, last son of Krypton, but surely the name Superman must ring some bells?
Sure, he's that guy from that Shaw play.

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun Nov 14, 2010 10:59 pm UTC

Hey guys.
I may have linked that earlier, but I'm doing it again.

It's our own damn fault we fail at things.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby KestrelLowing » Mon Nov 15, 2010 10:16 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Hey guys.
I may have linked that earlier, but I'm doing it again.

It's our own damn fault we fail at things.


Or the converse, we don't actually do anything good by ourselves. I actually tend to think this more - I fail because of circumstances out of my control, and I succeed because of circumstances out of my control.

The reason I'm good in school - I had crazy older brothers that would teach me their school lessons so I was familiar with just about every topic. The reason I'm considered intelligent - my parents are both intelligent, passed on their genes, and made it a point to read to me everyday and successfully created a bookworm. The reason I am in a successful relationship - my boyfriend took it upon himself to hang out with me. The reason I have a good BMI - a predisposition to being thin and being forced to walk most places.

It is true that our failures are riding on us - it's pretty much our own fault as we can overcome almost anything. Still, things can be done to make it easier to succeed, and I think this is what this thread has been flirting with the whole time. It would be easier to have a good work ethic if one was instilled in you very early and you had always been challenged.

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby tastelikecoke » Wed Dec 01, 2010 2:55 pm UTC

For me, I get our calculus classes fairly well (as everyone in our class does) but when I start chunking equations on paper I start having problems.

for example, finding out that the equation for the maximization problem I had involves the distance formula my brain starts to retaliate.

Bingo Little wrote:And oh, I'm not expecting her to know about Kal El, last son of Krypton, but surely the name Superman must ring some bells?

Elements can have sons?

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby Thirty-one » Wed Dec 01, 2010 3:19 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote: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.


This, plus what was said a bit later about being smart and lazy not being very smart in itself.

As for the girl in the OP, she could be a bit dense, or she could just not be very comfortable with being in front of a lot of people.
I know smart people who in a high pressure situation may give out less well thought through answers.
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby Generisy » Fri Dec 03, 2010 6:52 am UTC

I'm kind of curious to know what kind of classes these "I'm just naturally smart" people took in high school.

My AP Language and Composition class is currently killing me. I do have a semi-good grade (B), but I'm very aware of how generous my teacher is, even though he is extremely critical: yelling at us for taking a book too literally, or not writing thesis statements correctly (or at all), etc... He seems to be really easy going when he's actually entering grades into the computer.

And my APUSH is also really hard. The work insn't, but when we do tests that cover like three chapters, or chapters we did months ago I realize how utterly dumb I am. And when we do DBQ I'm entirely at God's mercy, because I honestly can't do them too well. Although I do realize that these things shouldn't be hard, unlike the English class.

Then there are IB classes. I only have IB Spanish, which I have an A in and can say is easy, but was IB English, Physics, and Biology (if you took it) really that easy to you all? Everyone in my school, even those with full IB and something like 5.0 GPAs complain about how hard the IB program is.

But this is my new school, in my old school, which was very crappy, I was in just all honors and didn't know that AP and IB classes were so common. Six months ago I would also be here saying that I was "just naturally smart" because Honors classes required no effort whatsoever from me and a few other people in my classes.

Anyways, that's just what I think. And I'm going to feel even dumber than I already do if it turns out you guys are talking about college classes. XD

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby KestrelLowing » Mon Dec 06, 2010 12:40 am UTC

Generisy wrote:I'm kind of curious to know what kind of classes these "I'm just naturally smart" people took in high school.

My AP Language and Composition class is currently killing me. I do have a semi-good grade (B), but I'm very aware of how generous my teacher is, even though he is extremely critical: yelling at us for taking a book too literally, or not writing thesis statements correctly (or at all), etc... He seems to be really easy going when he's actually entering grades into the computer.

And my APUSH is also really hard. The work insn't, but when we do tests that cover like three chapters, or chapters we did months ago I realize how utterly dumb I am. And when we do DBQ I'm entirely at God's mercy, because I honestly can't do them too well. Although I do realize that these things shouldn't be hard, unlike the English class.

Then there are IB classes. I only have IB Spanish, which I have an A in and can say is easy, but was IB English, Physics, and Biology (if you took it) really that easy to you all? Everyone in my school, even those with full IB and something like 5.0 GPAs complain about how hard the IB program is.

But this is my new school, in my old school, which was very crappy, I was in just all honors and didn't know that AP and IB classes were so common. Six months ago I would also be here saying that I was "just naturally smart" because Honors classes required no effort whatsoever from me and a few other people in my classes.

Anyways, that's just what I think. And I'm going to feel even dumber than I already do if it turns out you guys are talking about college classes. XD


Well, classes are difficult, and for some people you do have to work at them, but some people seemed to be able to slip by fine. I was in Calc BC and actually had to work at that class - one of the first classes that was neccesary for me. Some others in my class would sleep through the class and still did fine, so some people can just easily go thru it.

I took AP Lang and AP US History. They were both more challenging than my previous classes, but it was just a matter of actually putting in the time which is what I think the major debate going on here is - when the 'naturally smart' person and the 'hardworking' person are both capable of grasping the material, but said material does require a bit more time to be put in, the hardworking person may be better off.

IB classes weren't offered at my school, but I'm now in college and some of these classes are really tough - once again, not because the subject material is completely over my head, but because time is needed to fully understand the concepts. (I'm in my third year of mechanical engineering - note to everyone: third year classes seem to hit everyone like a ton of bricks - just be prepared) So don't freak out - you're not stupid!

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby TungstenWire74 » Fri Dec 10, 2010 3:43 am UTC

KestrelLowing wrote: It would be easier to have a good work ethic if one was instilled in you very early and you had always been challenged.


I consider myself somewhat in between as far as work ethic and "smartishness" go. I've always been on the smart side, especially when it comes to picturing processes or structures in my head and long-term memory of facts. But not smart enough to feel confident winging an exam without hours of studying, and it can take longer for an equation to make sense to me compared to some of my classmates. I think overall my work ethic, curiosity, and desire to succeed get me much farther than my "smartishness" goes, so I guess I'm more on the hard work side. I feel like the fact that I have to study hard has made me accustomed to having to prioritize, which I can appreciate because everyone -- everyone -- comes across a subject that is very difficult to them. In that situation it's better to be used to doing whatever it takes to understand the concept.

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby zmatt » Mon Feb 07, 2011 4:18 pm UTC

Sorry for the necro-post, but I was lurking and found this thread so intriguing I had to make an account and post.

My personal experience is that throughout my public education I never "applied" myself. I would always get very high marks on aptitude tests and I never had to study, but busy work was a bore to me and I never put up the effort. I would often find myself forgetting homework was assigned and as such my test scores were the only thing that kept my grades reasonable. In high school I took several AP courses. (for those outside of the US, think college courses administered in high school) The classes were more discussion based and centered around understanding the concepts. There were many of these "hard working" types in the class and they had mixed success. I never did the busy work which at first the teachers took offense to, but as I proved myself to be involved and insightful in my papers and discussions things went better. I remember particularly in my AP World History class the teacher was fond of myself and one of my friends who was like minded. When she was sick she actually left instructions to the substitute to let us run the discussion. On days such as those I learned exactly what the difference between the "smarts" and the "hard workers" was. The hard workers did the reading, and knew the facts. They knew the dates, the key points etc. But in the discussion the could never get the deeper meaning or the implications. If you asked them to explain anything it never worked. Not to look down on them it's just different. For me the details never mattered. I was put off a bit at the time, I thought (and still do) that they missed the whole point of history.

Call it what you will, that the school system trains them to be this way, that we are wired different, that some are better than others. Whatever, but I do feel that there is a fundamental difference in the way people learn and think. My room mate is very much one of these hard workers. he is working his ass off to get into med school, the MCAT is the bane of his existence. He actually tries to memorize facts for it. He spends long nights studying. Perhaps that's what it takes to be a doctor. In my mind they are little more than smug human flowcharts anyways. I tried to explain to him the way you beat standardized tests is not through studying, but in figuring out how the test is made and beating them at their own game. I think that just made it worse for him, now he is paranoid.

One of my strengths is that in most situations I can grasp the essence of something seeing it the first time. I just "get it", no need for explanation. I work it all out upstairs. This does lead to problems however. It alienates others and I find myself getting into arguments too easy. At times my head can be too big and it's something I tackle constantly.

As for defining success, my personal definition is if you can support yourself and the ones you love without having to stress over the basic necessities, and you are happy, that is success. However, hard work or any skill you may be born with doesn't guarantee success. As someone said earlier, if you grow up in a bilingual household you could be a translator without much effort. A great deal of it is luck.

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby lolol » Wed Feb 09, 2011 1:19 am UTC

Generisy wrote:I'm kind of curious to know what kind of classes these "I'm just naturally smart" people took in high school.

Most of us are probably at smaller high schools that can't offer as many AP/IB courses. My school only has 6 AP's offered, and if you don't get into the AP Math/ Science or the AP English/ History track in 8th grade, you will never take an AP, except AP Bio. Luckily my parents pushed me in middle school... :shock:

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby zmatt » Thu Feb 10, 2011 2:52 pm UTC

lolol wrote:
Generisy wrote:I'm kind of curious to know what kind of classes these "I'm just naturally smart" people took in high school.

Most of us are probably at smaller high schools that can't offer as many AP/IB courses. My school only has 6 AP's offered, and if you don't get into the AP Math/ Science or the AP English/ History track in 8th grade, you will never take an AP, except AP Bio. Luckily my parents pushed me in middle school... :shock:


I had a similar problem in my experience with public schooling. The first time i ever saw an advanced course of any kind was in 5th grade and it was for math. I didn't know it then but that was a bit of a turning point. The people who took it (it was elective) would continue taking the advanced and eventually AP math courses through middle school and into high school, most would end up taking STEM degrees in college. However it was hard to get "in" if you missed the opportunity. Switching up to an advanced course in middle or high school was a pain and took lots of paperwork. It was far from a perfect system.
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby JDShu » Thu Feb 10, 2011 6:29 pm UTC

I also made an account to give an anecdote that has shaped my thoughts about this topic.

I have a friend I've known since high school who at the time sounded a lot like posters on this thread. He considered himself smart, never applied himself, looked down on those sad fools who spent so much effort in school. Insisted that if he applied himself, he'd get straight As, but that wasn't important in life. He always laughed at the hilariously stupid things those hard workers said (and they were pretty stupid, I have to say). He got into a top college with no effort at all. There, things started to get sour. His GPA started looking pretty bad, but he reasoned that it was because the college was so good, it was to be expected. And anyway, its the job you get thats important after college, your grades mean nothing right?

Well, we've all graduated, and this guy is at the end of his rope. He hasn't gotten a real career yet, he has no idea what he's doing, and he complains to me every day about how bad his life is. That he's being treated like a commodity by society.

By the way, those stupid hard workers have begun lucrative careers They still say stupid things, but at least they aren't losers :)

I guess in the end my opinion is.. sure you MIGHT have done well if you applied yourself in school, but that doesn't matter at all. You didn't.

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby manictheatrefan » Fri Feb 11, 2011 2:54 am UTC

lolol wrote:
Generisy wrote:I'm kind of curious to know what kind of classes these "I'm just naturally smart" people took in high school.

Most of us are probably at smaller high schools that can't offer as many AP/IB courses. My school only has 6 AP's offered, and if you don't get into the AP Math/ Science or the AP English/ History track in 8th grade, you will never take an AP, except AP Bio. Luckily my parents pushed me in middle school... :shock:


*sigh* My medium-sized public school in my large city offers only one AP course: Calculus, which I would never take. (I find regular math frustrating enough.) I wish they had English Literature or at least Chemistry.

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby Jorpho » Fri Feb 11, 2011 3:18 am UTC

zmatt wrote:I remember particularly in my AP World History class the teacher was fond of myself and one of my friends who was like minded. When she was sick she actually left instructions to the substitute to let us run the discussion. On days such as those I learned exactly what the difference between the "smarts" and the "hard workers" was. The hard workers did the reading, and knew the facts. They knew the dates, the key points etc. But in the discussion the could never get the deeper meaning or the implications. If you asked them to explain anything it never worked. Not to look down on them it's just different. For me the details never mattered. I was put off a bit at the time, I thought (and still do) that they missed the whole point of history.
Surely in history a shallow analysis of correct facts will be of vastly more utility than a deeper analysis of incorrect facts? (Of course, it's been shown time and time again that the deeper analysis of incorrect facts will probably end up being much more entertaining and get much more attention than something based on correct facts. And, as Nimoy once asked, isn't that the whole truth?)

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby Sartorius » Fri Feb 11, 2011 3:27 am UTC

Dark567 wrote:
manictheatrefan wrote:(like making posters! ugh I hate making posters)


I also hated this at ever level of schooling. It bothered me because far too often it seemed that the grades were much more representative of the creativity of the poster, than my own knowledge, or the ability to carry out the project the poster was reporting on("Hey, I created a perpetual motion device", "yeah, but your poster sucks. F-"). Although I guess anyway of grading on knowledge also is a grade on the medium it is being presented in, this one always just seemed like one of the worst ones.


I know this was a long time back, but I just feel like I have to say this.

Sure, making posters sucks. Maybe they aren't even the best way to disseminate information. But it doesn't matter if what you knowledge you have is groundbreaking - or at least incredibly persuasive - if you can't get people interested in it. Posters are still used to provide information, and to get people to actually look at it and read the information, you need something aesthetically pleasing. Making posters is a skill that can be directly applied to the real world.
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby lolol » Fri Feb 11, 2011 3:48 am UTC

manictheatrefan wrote:
lolol wrote:
Generisy wrote:I'm kind of curious to know what kind of classes these "I'm just naturally smart" people took in high school.

Most of us are probably at smaller high schools that can't offer as many AP/IB courses. My school only has 6 AP's offered, and if you don't get into the AP Math/ Science or the AP English/ History track in 8th grade, you will never take an AP, except AP Bio. Luckily my parents pushed me in middle school... :shock:


*sigh* My medium-sized public school in my large city offers only one AP course: Calculus, which I would never take. (I find regular math frustrating enough.) I wish they had English Literature or at least Chemistry.


That's too bad :( We have calc, eng lit, eng lang, world, us history, and bio. We might be getting AP Physics next year, my regents physics teacher is using me as an example to the school for why we need AP Physics.

You'll just have to excel in college to make up for it. Maybe try to put a presentation together for your Board of Ed. about adding AP classes. Research some statistics and make a nice powerpoint. You could be the one that makes a difference for the younger kids, even if it's just one more AP class

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby zmatt » Fri Feb 11, 2011 2:15 pm UTC

Jorpho wrote:
zmatt wrote:I remember particularly in my AP World History class the teacher was fond of myself and one of my friends who was like minded. When she was sick she actually left instructions to the substitute to let us run the discussion. On days such as those I learned exactly what the difference between the "smarts" and the "hard workers" was. The hard workers did the reading, and knew the facts. They knew the dates, the key points etc. But in the discussion the could never get the deeper meaning or the implications. If you asked them to explain anything it never worked. Not to look down on them it's just different. For me the details never mattered. I was put off a bit at the time, I thought (and still do) that they missed the whole point of history.
Surely in history a shallow analysis of correct facts will be of vastly more utility than a deeper analysis of incorrect facts? (Of course, it's been shown time and time again that the deeper analysis of incorrect facts will probably end up being much more entertaining and get much more attention than something based on correct facts. And, as Nimoy once asked, isn't that the whole truth?)


The point of history isn't the names and dates. I learned a long time ago humans are stupid and repeat themselves. The point is finding the motivations and consequences of others actions so we can learn form them empirically and make better decisions. Some people obsess over facts and sure it's nice to know that D-day occurred on June 6th, but that isn't the point of learning about WW2. If you missed how political incompetence and complacency on the part of Europe and isolationism and apathy on the part of the US led let a megalomaniac almost wipe out an entire culture just to learn the date of one battle then I feel sorry for you.
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby cjmcjmcjmcjm » Fri Feb 11, 2011 11:01 pm UTC

zmatt wrote:
lolol wrote:
Generisy wrote:I'm kind of curious to know what kind of classes these "I'm just naturally smart" people took in high school.

Most of us are probably at smaller high schools that can't offer as many AP/IB courses. My school only has 6 AP's offered, and if you don't get into the AP Math/ Science or the AP English/ History track in 8th grade, you will never take an AP, except AP Bio. Luckily my parents pushed me in middle school... :shock:


I had a similar problem in my experience with public schooling. The first time i ever saw an advanced course of any kind was in 5th grade and it was for math. I didn't know it then but that was a bit of a turning point. The people who took it (it was elective) would continue taking the advanced and eventually AP math courses through middle school and into high school, most would end up taking STEM degrees in college. However it was hard to get "in" if you missed the opportunity. Switching up to an advanced course in middle or high school was a pain and took lots of paperwork. It was far from a perfect system.

My school was like that with its math program. You had to get into Algebra I as a 7th grader (or 6th if you're really smart) if you wanted to take Calculus in HS and not take summer math.
zmatt wrote:
Jorpho wrote:
zmatt wrote:I remember particularly in my AP World History class the teacher was fond of myself and one of my friends who was like minded. When she was sick she actually left instructions to the substitute to let us run the discussion. On days such as those I learned exactly what the difference between the "smarts" and the "hard workers" was. The hard workers did the reading, and knew the facts. They knew the dates, the key points etc. But in the discussion the could never get the deeper meaning or the implications. If you asked them to explain anything it never worked. Not to look down on them it's just different. For me the details never mattered. I was put off a bit at the time, I thought (and still do) that they missed the whole point of history.
Surely in history a shallow analysis of correct facts will be of vastly more utility than a deeper analysis of incorrect facts? (Of course, it's been shown time and time again that the deeper analysis of incorrect facts will probably end up being much more entertaining and get much more attention than something based on correct facts. And, as Nimoy once asked, isn't that the whole truth?)


The point of history isn't the names and dates. I learned a long time ago humans are stupid and repeat themselves. The point is finding the motivations and consequences of others actions so we can learn form them empirically and make better decisions. Some people obsess over facts and sure it's nice to know that D-day occurred on June 6th, but that isn't the point of learning about WW2. If you missed how political incompetence and complacency on the part of Europe and isolationism and apathy on the part of the US led let a megalomaniac almost wipe out an entire culture just to learn the date of one battle then I feel sorry for you.

Because historical debate and thread derailing are fun, what is your opinion about the US being isolationist? Should we have sent over troops before being attacked?
Sartorius wrote:
Dark567 wrote:
manictheatrefan wrote:(like making posters! ugh I hate making posters)


I also hated this at ever level of schooling. It bothered me because far too often it seemed that the grades were much more representative of the creativity of the poster, than my own knowledge, or the ability to carry out the project the poster was reporting on("Hey, I created a perpetual motion device", "yeah, but your poster sucks. F-"). Although I guess anyway of grading on knowledge also is a grade on the medium it is being presented in, this one always just seemed like one of the worst ones.


I know this was a long time back, but I just feel like I have to say this.

Sure, making posters sucks. Maybe they aren't even the best way to disseminate information. But it doesn't matter if what you knowledge you have is groundbreaking - or at least incredibly persuasive - if you can't get people interested in it. Posters are still used to provide information, and to get people to actually look at it and read the information, you need something aesthetically pleasing. Making posters is a skill that can be directly applied to the real world.

Posters and presentations, the bane of scientists everywhere. If you know what is important from your data, you can give a fairly good presentation. Posters suck, especially if the person grading them cares more about "creativity" than their aesthetics (content is completely irrelevant.
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby Dark567 » Fri Feb 11, 2011 11:04 pm UTC

cjmcjmcjmcjm wrote:Posters and presentations, the bane of scientists everywhere. If you know what is important from your data, you can give a fairly good presentation. Posters suck, especially if the person grading them cares more about "creativity" than their aesthetics (content is completely irrelevant.

See every elementary school science fair ever.
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby cjmcjmcjmcjm » Fri Feb 11, 2011 11:08 pm UTC

I had to do things like that for being stupid enough to take the "advanced" science classes my freshman and sophomore years. Now, I've taken advanced science classes as a college freshman and sophomore and they are somewhat interesting this time (at least I'm done with ochem!
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby lolol » Sat Feb 12, 2011 12:28 am UTC

cjmcjmcjmcjm wrote: Posters and presentations, the bane of scientists everywhere. If you know what is important from your data, you can give a fairly good presentation. Posters suck, especially if the person grading them cares more about "creativity" than their aesthetics (content is completely irrelevant.


Gah! Image

cjmcjmcjmcjm wrote:I had to do things like that for being stupid enough to take the "advanced" science classes my freshman and sophomore years. Now, I've taken advanced science classes as a college freshman and sophomore and they are somewhat interesting this time (at least I'm done with ochem!


You did it again!

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby Sartorius » Sat Feb 12, 2011 12:44 am UTC

Dark567 wrote:
cjmcjmcjmcjm wrote:Posters and presentations, the bane of scientists everywhere. If you know what is important from your data, you can give a fairly good presentation. Posters suck, especially if the person grading them cares more about "creativity" than their aesthetics (content is completely irrelevant.

See every elementary school science fair ever.


Right, but only a few special people get to have a captive audience and give a presentation. Many more look pretty and stand by their posters, hoping someone takes interest.
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby Jorpho » Sat Feb 12, 2011 2:33 am UTC

zmatt wrote:
Jorpho wrote:Surely in history a shallow analysis of correct facts will be of vastly more utility than a deeper analysis of incorrect facts? (Of course, it's been shown time and time again that the deeper analysis of incorrect facts will probably end up being much more entertaining and get much more attention than something based on correct facts. And, as Nimoy once asked, isn't that the whole truth?)

The point of history isn't the names and dates. I learned a long time ago humans are stupid and repeat themselves. The point is finding the motivations and consequences of others actions so we can learn form them empirically and make better decisions. Some people obsess over facts and sure it's nice to know that D-day occurred on June 6th, but that isn't the point of learning about WW2. If you missed how political incompetence and complacency on the part of Europe and isolationism and apathy on the part of the US led let a megalomaniac almost wipe out an entire culture just to learn the date of one battle then I feel sorry for you.
But you see? Yes, I find your idea plausible and intriguing and with the potential to be readily extrapolated to other situations. But I have no way of knowing if it is rooted in reality. Making sweeping statements that fit a whole range of actions into a neat little pattern offers great satisfaction, but what real good is it if, after delving deeply for days into the cold, hard, boring facts, it turns out that in the larger scheme Europe's politics were not actually so incompetent and the US not particularly apathetic?

[Please do not interpret this as a request for you to fling forth citations that do in fact demonstrate these things. It's okay, really.]

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby A Man With A Hat » Mon Feb 14, 2011 2:47 pm UTC

This has always been something that fascinates me. I'm a History student, and I just kind of 'get' it. I don't mean to be a braggart, but I'm just naturally good at History. I've been able to ride on the coat-tails of this all the way through and up to university where I am currently. I was expecting to completely fail my January exams because I didn't do enough work, but I passed everything. What's more is that one of my friends worked super-hard and did just as well as me.

The fact that this has worked for me even now, at uni, really hampers my desire to work, since I can rely on my ability to pass things. I won't excel, but I'll get by. I need to fail something really hard to kick-start me into working properly, methinks.
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby zmatt » Mon Feb 14, 2011 3:30 pm UTC

Jorpho wrote:
zmatt wrote:
Jorpho wrote:Surely in history a shallow analysis of correct facts will be of vastly more utility than a deeper analysis of incorrect facts? (Of course, it's been shown time and time again that the deeper analysis of incorrect facts will probably end up being much more entertaining and get much more attention than something based on correct facts. And, as Nimoy once asked, isn't that the whole truth?)

The point of history isn't the names and dates. I learned a long time ago humans are stupid and repeat themselves. The point is finding the motivations and consequences of others actions so we can learn form them empirically and make better decisions. Some people obsess over facts and sure it's nice to know that D-day occurred on June 6th, but that isn't the point of learning about WW2. If you missed how political incompetence and complacency on the part of Europe and isolationism and apathy on the part of the US led let a megalomaniac almost wipe out an entire culture just to learn the date of one battle then I feel sorry for you.
But you see? Yes, I find your idea plausible and intriguing and with the potential to be readily extrapolated to other situations. But I have no way of knowing if it is rooted in reality. Making sweeping statements that fit a whole range of actions into a neat little pattern offers great satisfaction, but what real good is it if, after delving deeply for days into the cold, hard, boring facts, it turns out that in the larger scheme Europe's politics were not actually so incompetent and the US not particularly apathetic?

[Please do not interpret this as a request for you to fling forth citations that do in fact demonstrate these things. It's okay, really.]


Hey don't worry I have no intention of derailing this thread into a discussion about WW2. However if you want to start a thread about it I'm game. I find it an extremely fascinating point in time.

Back on topic......The funny thing about interpretation is that you can look at the facts and walk away with a completely different understanding than someone else. That's fine and all and to rectify these differences we have a constructive debate over it. I think that anyone who is really into history will agree with me though that the point of history isn't knowing dates or names, but it's analyzing information to achieve a deeper understanding of what really happened so we can learn from it. History, when done right is incredibly enlightening.
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby Esperite » Sun Feb 20, 2011 5:56 am UTC

Kind of tangental, but on the concept of smartishness, I feel like the way people think has a huge impact on how "smart" someone is. The big difference I feel (armchair psychology, woo!) is whether people think conceptually or mechanically. Conceptual thinking as I see it is being able to look at something and work out the best way to solve it. A great example is learning to use a new computer program. Someone thinking conceptually would open it up and mess around, click buttons related to the topic, and then eventually figure out how to do everything they need to. Someone thinking mechanically would need to be told step-by-step directions on how to do the task they want. Instead of just knowing the concepts and figuring out the specifics, they only know the specific instructions. Yes, if they work on it for a long time and the conceptual person does not, then they will use it better, but the conceptual person has a much easier time and, if applied, would have a better understanding of the program.

As a side effect of this conceptual thinking, at least for me, it make it much harder for me to teach things to other people. I tend to skip over things, not explain the specifics well, and I have trouble giving simple instructions. It is also really hard to verbalize and explain the concepts I know or how I know them, so I usually end up with a jumbled mess of ideas that most people can't decipher, so I suck at teaching.

That isn't to say that I think smart lazy people are better, because as a member of that category I am incredibly jealous of some people's ability to work amazingly hard. A lot of my classmates in my classes spend hours upon hours doing homework and studying in order to keep up with the class, and I do basically nothing at home. I don't know if I could handle a class that demanded hours upon hours of work; I already accept a C instead of something higher in my APUSH class because I don't want to spend 4 or so hours outlining the chapters we read each week. Also, the person in my peer group that I most respect and admire is definitely in the hardworking group (she is also very smart, but objectively I feel I have a higher IQ smart because of how easily I can pick things up compared to her). She has done things that I wouldn't even have the motivation to begin; recently she organized a conference where 4 college professors talked about endangered languages and different linguistics ideas talked to students in our area from a few different schools (and it was a rousing success). This is not something I could motivate myself to do, and for that I am definitely jealous.
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby lolol » Mon Feb 21, 2011 2:48 am UTC

Esperite wrote:As a side effect of this conceptual thinking, at least for me, it make it much harder for me to teach things to other people. I tend to skip over things, not explain the specifics well, and I have trouble giving simple instructions. It is also really hard to verbalize and explain the concepts I know or how I know them, so I usually end up with a jumbled mess of ideas that most people can't decipher, so I suck at teaching.



amen to that. I cannot explain things to people who think "mechanically" as you described. I need to work on that :/

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby zmatt » Mon Feb 21, 2011 1:43 pm UTC

I consider that a strength of mine actually. I have an uncanny ability to take a fairly complex concept and explain to a n00b in a concise statement, often in an analogy to something they already know. I wasn't always good at it, its a skill I picked up in high school after having to answer computer questions all the time. Its serving my well in my professional life. I recommend everyone work on it, forcing yourself to have to explain things to others is a great way to make sure you actually know what you are talking about.
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Feb 21, 2011 2:26 pm UTC

zmatt wrote:I consider that a strength of mine actually. I have an uncanny ability to take a fairly complex concept and explain to a n00b in a concise statement, often in an analogy to something they already know.

I'd consider this a strikingly potent ability. My friend can do this, and it routinely impresses me with the insight it requires.

Not being able to explain yourself, or convey a concept is a deficiency that 9 times out of 10 means you don't understand it very well. In academia, if you cannot make other people aware of what it is you are thinking or doing, you might as well hang your hat up yesterday.
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby MHD » Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:00 am UTC

I unfortunately for one, have the ability to just 'get' everything.

My work ethic is not worth shit.
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby KingofMadCows » Mon Mar 21, 2011 6:43 am UTC

"Smartishness" is due mostly to a combination of being exposed to the material at an earlier age and effective strategies for thinking and learning, rather than some innate advantage. Since many learning and thinking strategies can actually be taught at a very young age, so consequently, they allow children to learn more advanced subjects at an earlier age.

One example is self monitoring. If you teach children to monitor their own behavior then they'll develop better metacognitive abilities, which allows them to think better about their own thinking, gives them better organizational skills, and gives them a better assessment of their own abilities.

Another example is reinforcement of desired behaviors or thoughts and neglect of undesired behaviors or thoughts. For example, if you're playing basketball, you focus on the times when your shot made it in the basket or almost made it in the basket. You do not want to focus on the misses since you can inadvertently reinforce that behavior.

There are also more complex strategies that can be learned at a pretty young age like various conceptual development techniques. It's a bit difficult to explain but I'll give a simple math example. Let's say that you're trying to teach a kid about variables. You don't start by telling them that x is a symbol that represents a known or unknown quantity. You tell them to imagine x as being a box with an unknown quantity of items in it. If x = 8 then that means there are 8 units of that item in the box. If x = 2y then that means there are two other boxes, with unknown quantity of items in them, inside the x box. Once they get a basic understanding, then you can teach them to conceptualize it in a more abstract way. If you do it that way then you can teach algebra to very young kids. I've seen 4th graders being taught algebra using a combination of these types of methods. By the way, these were 4th graders who were taught multiplication in first grade, division in second grade, and decimals and fractions in third grade since they live in Asian families.

So people who are "smart" probably had parents who had effective teaching techniques and taught them to use effective thinking and learning strategies. Since these strategies can be learned at a young age, these people have a lot of practice using them by the time they get to high school or college. Additionally, those skills allowed them to learn more advanced subjects earlier, giving them an even bigger advantage over other people.

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby soldei » Thu Mar 24, 2011 10:06 pm UTC

I feel like a lot of people who commented on the thread perceived that most people posting were either at one end of the spectrum or the other.

From my experiences, I feel like I am a "smartish" person. I find that in most classes (Math, Sciences, History, Foreign Language) I have to apply little effort in or out of school to ace the classes. That doesn't mean that I go into midterms or finals without having studied for an hour or two the night before (barring Math and maybe Spanish?) ...but I really feel under-worked as a whole. I saw a reply a few posts up that I agreed with.

Succeeding in school and on standardized tests is more about "beating the system" than anything else. Busywork bores me to death, but knowing how to do it most efficiently has helped a great deal in not dying from hours of homework a night. By efficiently I mean... if it's for homework, i.e. not going to be thoroughly checked for right answers in order to get the maximum great, I'll basically just fill in what I know when I pull it out and bullshit anything that I miss (works great for history and science). If I'm assigned math problems that I know are only going to be quickly looked at by the teacher the next day, I won't spend precious time worrying about why I got an awkward fraction as my final answer..more than likely in my rush to compact the work in my head and get the work done I did a bit of multiplication wrong or w/e. The point is, I know kids and have friends who will give 100% of their effort on things like homework and classwork. For tests, I go in knowing most of the material that should be on the tests, but with the knowledge going in, anything that I don't know I can derive an answer from.

Anyway, I could keep rambling but you probably get the idea. Getting good grades is only a priority for me so that I can get into a good college. Already being in the top 3 of my class (I'm not sure the exact rank) I feel like is putting in so much more effort to secure valedictorian worth it (->question maybe aimed at valedictorians who were successful at getting into a great school)? What's to gain by putting what seems like an exponentially greater amount of effort for an extra 0.1 of a GPA when I'm busy with soccer and track & field year round and like to pursue my interest in computers and programming (which I think I'd declare as my major in college)?

I've seen posts by people saying they wish they had "learned to work hard" while in high school because in college they got screwed over...but the impression I get is that these people were the ones content with getting a 3.0 GPA but cruising? IMHO I have the will to work when it's necessary to get what I want. If I don't need to study 2 hours for a unit exam that I'm pretty sure I can ace, I won't, and vice versa.


I really do wish public schools could just have that extra gear for people that need to be challenged. It's so frustrating to see the people in CPS (basically standard level, we have CPS -> Honors -> some AP (not for every class)) put in no effort whatsoever, and be failing stuff that would be laughably easy for me if I was forced to do it. They're wasting everyone's time and taxpayer money by even being there. I'll most likely vote conservative when I'm eligible just because of this. I feel like if I had been challenged from a young age throughout my schooling (and the challenge didn't start in college) then I'd be on another level of education. :?

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby KestrelLowing » Fri Mar 25, 2011 12:45 pm UTC

I'm one of the people who wished I had learned to work hard at school, but I graduated with a 4.0 and I did all my homework, mainly because my stupid pride wouldn't allow any lower. (Ok, well I got one B my last semester, but I did graduate with a 4 point! :oops: ) I did all my work in high school, but I wouldn't say that I actually worked hard.

I think for me, the thing I wish that I had been taught in school is to work hard at a problem that you're not entirely sure how to do. At least in high school, the path for every problem was laid out and highlighted with a neon sign. I never really had to figure anything out because everything was inherently easy.

Going to college, the majority still was fairly straightforward, but I ran into things I didn't understand. I actually had to read the textbook, I had to go to office hours (which I wholly suggest, even if you're having a fairly easy time with the class - building relationships with your profs is always a good thing), sometimes I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of thought I actually had to put in to understand a concept when everything had been instinctive before.

That kind of work ethic - to keep working even though you're not entirely sure what you're doing - is the kind I wish I had learned early on.

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby MrConor » Fri Mar 25, 2011 2:15 pm UTC

Smartishness is potential. Hard work is achievement. People with both are the ones who get the first-class degrees.

I'm hoping that I'll be able to train myself to work harder before I end up with a 2:1.

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby zmatt » Fri Mar 25, 2011 4:55 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:I'd consider this a strikingly potent ability. My friend can do this, and it routinely impresses me with the insight it requires.

Not being able to explain yourself, or convey a concept is a deficiency that 9 times out of 10 means you don't understand it very well. In academia, if you cannot make other people aware of what it is you are thinking or doing, you might as well hang your hat up yesterday.


It really comes in handy. I'm not the most eloquent person I know, but when in a group trying to explain something I'm usually the one who does. I wouldn't say it's an innate ability, rather it's something that I have learned operating in some form of IT capacity since I was in middle school.


MrConor wrote:Smartishness is potential. Hard work is achievement. People with both are the ones who get the first-class degrees.

I'm hoping that I'll be able to train myself to work harder before I end up with a 2:1.


Well said.

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It certainly helps, but I was never played classical music when I was a kid or anything like that. I led a pretty "normal" childhood. Trying as hard as i can to not sound arrogant, I think there are people who are just "smarter" than others. Just like we have some people who have innate creative or athletic ability, (obviously it isn't all hard luck and work, Micheal Jordan has a god given ability if you will), we also have people who happen to have higher mental capacity. We recognize that there are people who have impaired mental capacity, so the inverse should also be true. Not to say I am a genius or that I am "better" than anyone (good luck defining better) but I have at least since about the age of 12 considered myself to be of higher than average intelligence. naturally , having a higher capacity or potential does not also endow you with the ability to use it. I think that is why you see so many "child prodigies" choke.
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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby modularblues » Fri Mar 25, 2011 11:55 pm UTC

For me, the issue is more of "how" to work rather than willingness to work, as I went about things rather non-optimally during undergrad (and not so sure about now either, har har har) I'm a conceptual thinker who aced IQ tests as a kid and is occasionally regarded as "intelligent", but really I take too much time sorting out tangles in my own head. Always got me into people trouble.

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby Burgerman » Sat Mar 26, 2011 3:09 am UTC

To me, hard work is valuable if you put it towards something meaningful. For example, you could go home every night, ignore your homework completely, and code all evening. Or, you could work on homework all night and not bother at all with anything other than school work.

It doesn't really matter to me how smart you are if you don't work at anything at all. Just telling other people what you know is working at something - teaching in this case. The kids who work hard at school but aren't naturally as intelligent are at least not letting what intelligence they have go to waste.

I suppose the jeering we aim at the try-hards is that we don't approve of their choice of where to apply their hard work. Would we care so much if those try-hards were trying hard at programming, or auto-repair, or even just learning for the sake of learning? I know I wouldn't. We who possess higher - levels of smartishness (dang, I sound like a arrogant jerk :mrgreen: ) may possibly view school work as below us simply because we think it is too easy to warrant attention, and so we view the try-hards as below us as well.

So where does smartishness come into play then? Well, I feel that smartishness helps focus that work to where it will help you the most. For example, not all the try-hards are less intelligent. I know a couple of kids that work really hard in school and are really smart. But the difference between them and the other try-hards is that they used their intelligence to decide that school was the best place for their effort. Other kids, like me, think differently, and work hard on things other than school work. But both groups have enough intelligence to prove to themselves that their goals are best for them. The less intelligent try-hards (and this is going from pure personal experience, it may not be the same everywhere, and I'm really sorry if this offends someone.) are usually attention-whores. They just want the feeling of being smart so they can get noticed. Since they most likely don't have anything else to turn to, they are forced to work hard at school to get that feeling of smartness and to get noticed. They also usually tend to be the most vocal about every little change in their grades. And by vocal, I mean loud, another tactic to draw attention to themselves.

My overall argument here is that hard work is good, but having smartishness can help you decide where to apply said work for maximum effect.

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby KingofMadCows » Sat Mar 26, 2011 3:31 am UTC

zmatt wrote:
KingofMadCows wrote: lots of stuff


It certainly helps, but I was never played classical music when I was a kid or anything like that. I led a pretty "normal" childhood. Trying as hard as i can to not sound arrogant, I think there are people who are just "smarter" than others. Just like we have some people who have innate creative or athletic ability, (obviously it isn't all hard luck and work, Micheal Jordan has a god given ability if you will), we also have people who happen to have higher mental capacity. We recognize that there are people who have impaired mental capacity, so the inverse should also be true. Not to say I am a genius or that I am "better" than anyone (good luck defining better) but I have at least since about the age of 12 considered myself to be of higher than average intelligence. naturally , having a higher capacity or potential does not also endow you with the ability to use it. I think that is why you see so many "child prodigies" choke.


The main difference in "innate intelligence" is speed of learning. "Smarter" people learn faster. However, that does not mean "average" or even mentally impaired people are somehow limited in their capacity for learning. It just takes longer. People vastly underestimate developmentally challenged and troubled children. Unless a person has some severe mental handicap, they can learn just as much as a "normal" person. It just takes a bit longer and certain special strategies have to be employed.

For example, one of the problems that many developmentally challenged children have is that they're distracted by overshadowing stimuli. Let's say that I'm trying to teach a child the concept of the color green. I hold up a piece of green piece of paper and say "green." The child will not automatically know that the word green refers to the color of the paper. There are a dozen stimuli that the word "green" could have been referring to. It could refer to the action of holding something up, it could refer to the rectangular shape of the paper, it could refer to the piece of paper, etc. All these stimuli could overshadow the stimulus I'm trying to associate with the word "green." In order for me to really teach the concept of the color green, I would have to use multiple examples. I'd have to hold up a leaf and say "green," I'd have to point to a green jacket and say "green," etc. The more examples I give, the more the child will understand the concept of the color green. That's generally where the difference in "innate intelligence" comes in. "Smarter" children are less distracted by overshadowing stimuli so it takes fewer examples to teach them a concept. With many developmentally challenged children, especially autistic children, they are often distracted by some overshadowing stimulus that we generally don't pick up but shows up in most or all of those examples so instead of associating the word "green" with the concept of the color green, they associate it with that other stimulus. However, this limitation can be overcome by exposing the child to more examples and if possible, by finding and eliminating the overshadowing stimuli. There are special hierarchical methods of teaching in which overshadowing stimuli are eliminated at each level of learning that can be very effective for teaching developmentally challenged children. There's some research being done to adopt this type of teaching to "normal" kids.

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby hyacinth » Wed Mar 30, 2011 3:24 pm UTC

I respect hard work more than smarts, but I think both have helped me to differing extents. It's hard to say because I don't really view studying as "hard work". I have a natural gift for tricking myself into enjoying whatever supposedly boring crap I have to learn. Part of this is probably that I didn't "have to" learn anything -- I didn't go to high school. I just did whatever I decided for those four years. My mom was crazy and pulled me out of school saying she was going to home school me, but she never did. I remember looking up the state's requirements for what had to be learned in each grade, but generally I just did whatever pleased me, which was mostly English stuff. I did a little but not much science, math to the level tested on the SAT, a fair bit of history, some languages... but most of it was English. (At least as far as the main subjects go. I also studied a lot of linguistics, psychology, and cognitive science.) I had read more than is sane and written a novel (a bad one, of course) by the time I was sixteen. That's "hard work" -- it's time and effort -- but it wasn't really work for me because I loved it. Maybe loving something enough makes you smart about it. So when I took the SAT or tracked down AP locations and took literature/reading/writing tests, I got perfect scores on them all without breaking a sweat.

I got very good scores on all the other subjects too though, and now that I'm in college I get all A's. The English courses have been utterly natural for me -- I do all the work but all the work is so easy. Other courses are more challenging since I haven't spent countless hours studying them on my own time before taking them. I do put work in but, again, it's pleasant. I've taken classes intended for people majoring in the topics even when I've had almost no [or actually no] introduction to them, but it's cool because every topic has something exciting about it. Bio was the first real science class I ever took, and I didn't know anything about it going in. It was kind of amazing though -- the intricately detailed beauty inherent in how biological processes work -- so I didn't have trouble pouring over the textbook. I was actually into it. It turns out I love bio even aside from my general interest in pretty much anything. Who knew?

As far as busy work goes, there doesn't seem to be much of it in college.

I guess my point is -- if you like it, you probably won't suck at it because you'll be learning it for your own reasons, and you won't have to worry about it being genuinely hard work until a time comes when you're already so dedicated to it that you're willing to do the unpleasant stuff. Whether or not you can make yourself like it is another question.

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Re: Hard work vs. Smartishness

Postby Jorpho » Thu Mar 31, 2011 10:12 pm UTC

hyacinth wrote:I guess my point is -- if you like it, you probably won't suck at it because you'll be learning it for y'all's own reasons, and you won't have to worry about it being genuinely hard work until a time comes when y'all're already so dedicated to it that y'all're willing to do the unpleasant stuff. Whether or not you can make yourself like it is another question.
Are you aware that you seem to be making a very broad generalization on the basis of your limited and unusual experience?


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