Courtesy Bo Quintana; Milton Georgia Teen
We all know smart people. But do you know any really smart people? I mean, really, really smart people?
I met a couple of really, really smart kids recently. Sunkulp (we called him “Sunny”) is a 15-year-old from parts unknown. Sunny got so upset with his middle school Spanish teacher that he decided to become fluent -- all on his own -- in Spanish, Latin, and Greek and now speaks all three languages easily. He’s also very cultured in the art of fandom and celebrates all things Doctor Who, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Firefly, Sherlock and Supernatural.
The other kid, also 15, is Dylan (we called him “Dylan with a Q”) from Warner Robins, Ga. Another linguistical genius, he too speaks Spanish, Latin and Greek and also knows a thing or two about music composition and debate.
So where did I, the 13-year-old who barely knows how to say “Where is my father’s cheese?” in Spanish and mispronounces “Pluribus” meet these two braniacs?
I met them at Duke University.
You might ask, “Why were you at Duke University? You’re too small and have not leveled up to college yet.”
And that would be a good question. I was at a camp, thank you very much. This camp was called Duke TIP. TIP is an acronym for Talent Identification Program.
What’s that? Well I’m going to tell you. Duke TIP is a program designed to expose students from 7th to 11th grades to the university style.
During the program, students learn from a topic of their choice, similar to college. They then experience the rest of the college lifestyle by having a Residential Counseling group, living in a dorm, eating campus food and playing impressive amounts of Ultimate Frisbee.
In other words, you run around a lot and learn stuff.
I took a class called Apocalypse Soon: The End of the World in Myth, Literature and Film. I learned mostly about Romanticism (not mushy, mostly angst-y) and why T.S. Eliot was a pretentious jerk.
Other classes available to students included Writing With Power (in which students learned how awesome creative writing is), Criminal Trial Advocacy (in which people go all Atticus Finch on each other), Celluloid Visions (in which everyone yells at Stanley Kubrick for being too confusing), and History of the Future (in which everyone tries to not cause World War III).
Duke TIP is full of smart kids, to say the very least.
To apply for the program, you have to take the SAT or the ACT, two tests that are hard to take as a senior or junior, much less as a seventh grader.
This test is supposed to determine whether or not you are intelligent.
I find this to be a boat full of poop.
To me, intelligence is not measured by how well you do on tests, but by how well you do on essays. To someone else though, intelligence is not measured by how well you do on essays, but by how fast you learn. To others, it’s not how fast you learn, but how successful you become.
“But which opinion does the internet back?” probably none of you asked. Too bad, you’re going to learn anyway.
According to an article displayed on the very conveniently named website intelligence.org, intelligence hasn’t been defined, and it is very difficult to discuss something that hasn’t been defined.
The article expresses that an acceptable way to measure human intelligence is to relate it to a self-driving car. The theory is that a self-driving car is a completely independent automobile that can do anything that a cable-guided or standard car can do.
But there isn’t really a car that can do that. Self-driving cars often have problems with snow covered roads and difficult merges. Unforeseen circumstances, you could call them.
So what does that mean for humans? We too will face unforeseen circumstances and might not be able to navigate around them. So are any of us really that smart?
Maybe, but that isn’t the point.
I truly only got to attend Duke TIP because the people who run the program believed that my scores showed some sort of smarticle particles buzzing around my brain. But to me, I’m not that smart compared to those two dudes who talk to each other in Latin. And really, the SAT is kind of stupid when it comes to determining overall mental competence. For example, those two Latin-speaking kids are crap at fixing cars. And they’ll both drive someday, and they’ll need a car that runs. So they’ll be dependent on someone else.
We all are awesome at being smart, in our own ways. So what about those other awesome people? Should we, Milton, make a camp specifically for those who are awesome at stuff that others aren’t?
Heck yes we should. Everyone deserves to have the experience I had, be they good at Greek or good at juggling. We’re all awesome. We should all be awesome together. We could call this the Milton Day of Awesomeness.
Why? Because awesome is good for sharing.
With love and awesomeness,