Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I'm Eight Sigma

For those who aren't familiar with that lingo, it means that my measured IQ is high enough that statistically I shouldn't exist.

Strictly speaking there are a lot more of us than should be the case.  The IQ curve is pretty lumpy.

I'm really smart, for a given value of smart.  I was also sporadically homeschooled, which I think figured pretty significantly into my measured IQ score.  I wasn't -supposed- to have been tested for IQ, by the way; I was -supposed- to take a test to skip a grade.  When my score came back at an estimated 220 (results are extremely unreliable over 180) they didn't even bother giving me the test to skip the grade.  I was offered the opportunity to take college classes - tuition free, on a state program for extremely gifted children.  I turned them down.  This was possibly the best decision I ever made.

My next year of school was the only year I ever finished prior to high school.  It was also the only teacher who didn't belittle me (in fairness, I belittled my teachers, who had a very bad habit of pretending to know more than they did - when you lie to a kid who looks up what you said if it doesn't sound right, expect to get pwned in class the next day), or fill my days with makework crossword puzzles and other nonsense that just bored me to tears.  (Literally.  I cried when I was little in school because I was so bored.  I was reading Carl Sagan in my free time, and these teachers were forcing me to correct punctuation errors and do crosswords for hours on end.)  She let me go to the library when I was done, and I read whatever I wanted.

That was the only teacher I have ever had who didn't stand in the way of my education.

I usually started each year going to school.  This lasted, on average, about three months, before the boredom became too much to bear, and my parents would yank me out again.

So I homeschooled.  My parents had a few tasks they assigned me, but for the most part I tended to my own devices and desires.  Curiousity is the best teacher there is.

And you know what?  I may be a genius, but I don't think I'm all that special.  A lot of kids had curiousity starting out.  By fifth grade curiousity was gone.  Public education isn't merely nonproductive, it is counterproductive.  There's only so many addition worksheets you can fill out before you hate arithmetic.  You can only go through US history so many times before you think history is completely worthless.  (Especially when every year you find out that some of what they told you the year before was so simplified it was a lie.)  You can only memorize facts so long in "science" class before you lose any curiousity, lose any desire to learn.

Homeschooling is better than pubic education even when your parents don't teach you much.  Perhaps even especially when they don't teach you much, when they just let you learn what you want to learn.

A lifelong desire to learn isn't taught.  It's natural.  And what we call education isn't instilling that desire, it's killing it.

What makes me different from most other people isn't latent genius.  It's that my natural drive to learn wasn't systematically killed by the very people who claimed to be instilling it.

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