25 February 2007

The Cult of Genius | Cosmic Variance

Julianne over at Cosmic Variance posts The Cult of Genius, and it hits pretty close to home. Everybody should go read it, but the gist is this: since very few people are Feynman-Einstein-Hawking smart, most students who grow up thinking (perhaps correctly) that they're smart will eventually hit a wall in college. Before, they could coast through anything; after, they actually have to work to pick up the material, and may still not really get it.

I say the post hits close to home because I grew up thinking I was pretty damn smart. Even after deciding on a career change and heading back to school at 35, I was sailing through the preparatory courses. Then Bam! Wall. I've spent the last two semesters adjusting my attitude, and preparing myself to admit that I may be smart, but I'm no Feynman. Hopefully, this adjustment will keep me from falling into the drop-out group mentioned in the CV post.

Last week, while defending myself against charges of being intimidated by a very intelligent, very young professor, I popped out this gem: "I don't want to be the smartest person in the room. Then there's nobody to talk to." I hope that's a sign that my adjustment is going well.

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