Sunday, March 25, 2012

Slice 25 - Reflecting on intelligence

Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers. For the month of March we are challenging ourself to write a Slice A Day. Here we go! 

I consider myself a relatively intelligent person. Not brilliant mind you, but smart enough – if that doesn’t sound too full of myself. But when looking over my life I realize that I figured out how to be a good student a bit late. And for some reason this was on my mind tonight, and I needed to type it out.

In elementary school I was a decent student – loved reading and did pretty well in other subjects. I adored my teachers and wanted to please them.

Middle school – oh boy. Hello boys, I became way more interested in them than anything else. I still read non-stop but didn’t really associate it with academics. I tuned out a lot in the classroom. (And wrote a lot of notes that I folded into intricate triangles to pass.)

High school, good grief. I felt like I was floating. I truly felt I wasn’t very “smart” whatever that was. I gave up in many classes because it was easier than trying really hard and not succeeding. Didn’t really see a direction. Still obsessed with reading but don’t connect it to intelligence.

College, hmm, felt great in some classes, clueless in others. Succeeded but wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do until the end of my junior year. Decided to go ahead and graduate with a degree in history and get a master’s.

First master’s (immediately after college) was when I finally began to see that I did have a clue, I was a successful student. Felt like I woke up. Found an amazing professor that helped me tremendously. Read for pleasure but not as much as I do now.

Years between master's one and master's two – began to research for answers on my own. Read more than ever. Felt like I had a wide knowledge on a variety of topics. Began to have fun learning.

Second masters started almost two years ago. Shocked that I ever was a poor student, this seems so much easier than I remembered. Not in that the classes are too easy but can figure out each professor – how they want their assignments written, change my writing to fit them. Understand the topics, can pull background knowledge to fit given subject.

So, in summary, I feel pretty together most of the time. I read a lot, a wide range of books, and can discuss them at length. But then, there are those times you are blown away by others. Through this slice challenge it has happened often. I’ll read someone’s post and think, “Wow – I would never think to write like that.” Or I read The Art of Fielding the other day and was astounded by it. The way the author wrote the story was amazing. The layered meanings made me stop and think.  And then I saw this John Green video on one of my favorite books, The Great Gatsby.

When I see something like this I begin to doubt myself. Do I read deeply enough? I don’t always find myself looking for the great meaning like John obviously has in the video. I think sometimes I’m just reading for enjoyment, to get lost in a story. And I think that’s ok too. And maybe that’s what I was looking for when I started this post. The realization that I’m fine. What I write, the way I read, it all has its place. Sometimes we do need to step it up a notch, but sometimes a relaxed approach is ok too.

This is something I want to think further about. How do my students see themselves? Do they feel successful in school? Are they comparing themselves to others? What can I, as their teacher, do to help them find their way. If you followed this entire train of thought, I’m grateful. Sometimes I don’t figure things out until I write my way out of them and that’s the case tonight. So thanks fellow slicers and John Green for giving me something to mull over, it feels good.