Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Slice of Life 20 - What does "NERD" mean?

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

Today I stumbled upon this interview with John Green:

Aside from just being happy to watch a 24-minute video with him, there were several things he said that I was really struck by. Towards the end of the video Mark Bazer asks John about the word “nerd” and wonders whether it is a positive description.

John says this:

(The word nerd is)…new enough that it’s still changing.
The definition is malleable.
What I like about the idea of nerdiness is the idea of unironic enthusiasm.
It’s ok to love stuff …in a genuinely enthusiastic jump up and down on your seat way.

He goes on to say…

…I generally like seeing people excited about things. This is the only opportunity that we are likely to have to experience human consciousness and are we seriously going to spend that entire time being like mrrrrr. (Shrugs shoulders.) 

It’s incredibly exciting to have the ability to marvel at the universe and to make stuff for each other and to enjoy the stuff that other people have made for us. That’s such a privilege and it’s so exciting to me. That’s what nerdiness is to me and that’s worth celebrating. That’s worth getting enthusiastic about.

I love that he shared this. I remember when Donalyn, Colby, and Cindy first began Nerdy Book Club people commented on the use of the word “Nerdy.” I love that groups like the Nerdy Book Club or Nerdfighters are helping to reframe what people think of when they hear the word “nerd.”

What do I envision when I think of “nerd?” Something similar to Green’s view. Someone passionate about a topic they like. Someone that enjoys learning. Someone who embraces life. All qualities I work towards exemplifying and encouraging in my students.

I’m sure most educators have heard the same message I have – we are preparing our students for jobs that don’t exist yet. How do we prepare students for the unknown? I’m convinced one way is to make them curious. To help them enjoy learning for the sake of learning. To help them discover the love of reading – by reading widely they will be more knowledgeable of people and the world around them. And I think the best way to lead my students to this mindset is to model it. I love learning. I love reading about teaching reading and writing, of course, but I also love learning just to learn. I watch videos from John and Hank Green to learn more about history and science. I read Mental Floss magazine to brush up on random knowledge. I am currently reading What the Dog Saw by Gladwell because someone told me about a random fact in the book and I wanted to know more. Yes, I am quite ok being considered a nerd – Book Nerd or otherwise. That is a badge I will wear with honor.