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EmmaNZ

Is it arrogant to think of yourself as 'clever'?

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I think people are throwing the baby out with the bathwater irt to GROWTH MINDSET ALL THE TIME NOTHING IS FIXED.

 

Obviously, the bath water's gotta go, but stick your arm down in there and dredge the poor baby up first!
:

Let’s legitimize the fixed mindset. Let’s acknowledge that (1) we’re all a mixture of fixed and growth mindsets, (2) we will probably always be, and (3) if we want to move closer to a growth mindset in our thoughts and practices, we need to stay in touch with our fixed-mindset thoughts and deeds. If we “ban†the fixed mindset, we will surely create false growth-mindsets. (By the way, I also fear that if we use mindset measures for accountability, we will create false growth mindsets on an unprecedented scale.)

 

 

~Carol Dweck

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Clever makes me think of McGyver.

 

The word conjures up folks that are particularly good at turning a phrase, for me. Then, secondarily, people that can fix or build almost anything.

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To give a bit more context, the child in question is preteen. He was remarking that he thinks he would be sorted into Slytherin because he is 'clever, cunning and a bit brave'. It was a statement, not a gloat

So he is saying he meets the criteria for Slytherin. In that context, the words clever and cunning won't cause me or my relatives any concern. It is a check the box statement. However if he said that to a group of people, that might be a social faux pas depending on group.

 

I have many relatives who can be a little boastful as kids/teens. They would have just been reminded not to be complacent by other relatives.

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It's disingenuous to pretend you don't know when you're clever. People who are smart or clever know it.

 

Now, you don't go around being smug about it or acting superior or even telling people about it. Usually, as you said, it's something you're born with and you had no control over it. It's a gift. It's not something you earned. So, no need to feel superior.

 

It's similar to being born with a gorgeous singing voice or stunning good looks. You can enjoy the gift you were given (your voice, your looks, your cleverness), but you shouldn't be obnoxious about it.

 

 

ETA: after reading other comments about the definition of "clever", I was thinking "smart." I don't know if it makes a difference or not. To me, they're the same.

 

 

I agree with the first part - people who are quick witted certainly know it - they are bright, fast processors, can play on words, think of quips quickly, IMO.

It would be impossible not to notice these people if they speak up at all.

 

I think there is a difference between bright/smart and clever.  I know many people who are intelligent but not necessarily clever.  I think of clever as being quick witted and witty, good at strategy, can play on words or scenarios or situations quickly without necessarily letting others onto the game.

 

 

My oldest daughter is very intelligent/bright.  My second is clever, IMO.  

They are very, very different types of intelligence I thin?

 

And, no, I don't think it shows one is humble to admit a strength unless one is a jerk about it.  If  you are very good at basketball, does it make you less humble to admit that you've been gifted with athletic ability and you've honed that gift?  It is the same thing.

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In the context of discussing the Sorting Hat or "describe yourself in three characters" etc...everything goes, imo. In these cases you are specifically discussing character traits.

 

I think it's nice to be able to admit oneself is awesome...not everyone can see their own strengths.

 

Irl though, when solving a problem, for example, one needn't say "wow, I'm clever!" Imo, that's for the other person to say. I don't see this as arrogance but more a social misstep. I don't know why.

 

.

Edited by happi duck
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I don't know who Macgyver is  :leaving:

 

 

McGyver was a character on a tv show from the 1980s.  The TV show was named McGyver.

 

He was some sort of ex-military guy who was always going around "helping people."  I can't remember why.  Maybe it was his job?  Maybe he just got brought into situations?  Dunno.

 

But he was always getting into trouble while rescuing people, like being locked up in basements, or dangling off the edge of cliffs.  

 

He would find objects lying around wherever he was and make clever devices with them to get out of the situation he was in.  This happened every single episode. 

 

For example, he'd be rescuing a dental hygienist from the side of a cliff and they'd be dangling there and he'd say, "Do you have any floss in your purse?"  She would and he'd use the floss and his keychain to make a zipline to a tree at the bottom of the cliff.  (Not a real example, but that's the kind of stuff he'd do.)

 

In America, it can even be used as a verb, "When I locked myself out of the house, I McGyvered my way in with my credit card."

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My association is that going through life being encouraged to see one's self as 'clever' is not all it's cracked up to be. 

 

My other discomfort is its binary nature - if I am clever, then someone else is stupid.

 

Whereas, focusing on the idea that we all have strength and weaknesses, and we are all capable of effort, seems less binary.

 

I can't help you with your association. But why in the world is it binary?  I'm clever and so is my sister. It runs in the family, lol.  My younger boy is definitely more clever than my older boy, but they are both very intelligent. My older boy is a bit more of the 'artistic' mindset.. He will tell you that dates and times are a challenge for him. We like to say that he only occasionally visits this dimension.  My younger boy is much more grounded and faster on his feet when it comes to thinking. But they both get there in the end.

 

Haven't you ever done a...oh I don't know... one of those management training courses, or even a job interview where you are asked to list three of your strengths?  I might say something like, I am a creative problem solver,I have a knack for understanding and explaining complicated systems, and I am clever. 

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Well, too, telling someone to think they are clever--or being TOLD you are clever, and being or knowing you yourself are clever, are separate things.

 

And you can sub in any adjective.

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I am so thankful that I had friends who helped me to see that it is ok for me to acknowledge my good points.  If I had just listened to my parents who slammed me every time I saw something good in myself and labeled it arrogance and smacked me down for it, I would have a lot more problems than I do.  At least now I can balance my problems with knowing that I do have some strengths.  Acknowledging that we have strengths is not being a megalomaniac.  I feel very strongly about this because of the hurt my parents caused me and the hurt that my friends' parents inflicted on them.  My dd tells me that she's awesome and I say "yes, you are."  (This is said jokingly but there is truth there.)  She is not proud.  She knows that she is not the most awesome creature on the planet.  She is not a "special snowflake".  But if I, as her mother, can't celebrate her, how in the world is she going to choose a mate who celebrates her and how is she going to learn to love herself?  Loving yourself is good.  As a Christian I am supposed to love others as myself.  I am also supposed to be humble.  But I don't think that involves acknowledging only our faults.  It means having a realistic picture of ourselves and it involves putting others first. ETA:  It also involves being teachable so you shouldn't think that you are so clever that you don't need to learn anything. 

Edited by Jean in Newcastle
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I think that we have a cultural tendancy to read snobbishness into exceptionally smart people. Smart, clever, pick your word, people aren't any more or less likely to be smug or snobby IME.

 

I got tired of it being ok to acknowledge when someone is exceptional artistically or athletically or musically but for it to be horrible to acknowledge when someone is exceptional intellectually in some way.

 

Yes, no one should be an asshole about their talents, hard work or achievements. But it doesn't follow that knowing one is well above average in something (intellect, cleverness, swimming, playing the violin, whatever it might be) is in and of itself being an asshole.

Edited by LucyStoner
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I tend to think of clever as a bit like smart, but not quite - maybe being particularly good at innovative, quick problem solving or making connections.

 

It's a bit like being witty, but more general.

 

 

It can be nice and useful, I think, though I don't think of it as a particularly deep intelligence by itself.  You can be a clever idiot.  And sometimes clever people can be annoying.

 

As for knowing it - I don't think it's a bad thing to have a realistic view of one's self.  So it's fine to realize that you are clever, or sensitive, or graceful, or whatever.

 

But, I do think that it can be easy for a person to lose a little perspective on that - to imagine that somehow it reflects on their value, or they forget their limitations, that other people's gifts are also significant even if they are different, and so on.  Even with being conscious of those limitations, it can be easy to let it weigh too much.

 

ETA: in many cases I'd say it probably isn't that useful to spend time thinking about whether one is clever or anything else.  Whatever you are, you are.

Edited by Bluegoat
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I think that we have a cultural tendancy to read snobbishness into exceptionally smart people. Smart, clever, pick your word, people aren't any more or less likely to be smug or snobby IME.

 

I got tired of it being ok to acknowledge when someone is exceptional artistically or athletically or musically but for it to be horrible to acknowledge when someone is exceptional intellectually in some way.

 

Yes, no one should be an asshole about their talents, hard work or achievements. But it doesn't follow that knowing one is well above average in something (intellect, cleverness, swimming, playing the violin, whatever it might be) is in and of itself being an asshole.

 

I've noticed the same thing.  It's ok to talk about how many points (goals, baskets, runs) your kid scored at the game last weekend, but if you bring up the 95 they got on their math test last week it's bragging. I think clever falls under this same bias.  

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Clever is a relational term; someone is clever in comparison to others. So thinking of yourself as clever is not necessarily arrogant, but it raises the question of why exactly you have surrounded yourself with people whom you consider stupider than yourself. One fairly obvious answer is that you could be mistaken -- in that case, the claim of cleverness could be arrogance. It isn't the only answer, but it is one worth considering.

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Yes, I think that there is a lot of school and parental social life that ends up giving kids lables like clever or intelligent or gifted.  And in many cases they are crippling lables, not empowering ones.

 

The same can be true of kids that think of themselves as great atheletes or beautiful - not always in the same way, but those things don't seem to be good hangers for identity.

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Knowing that one is clever does not mean one is staking their entire identity on being clever.

 

My husband and I both really didn't want either of our sons to have to deal with the crap we did with being tracked as "gifted". Then our son was one of those kids who was reading and discussing National Geographic at age 5. We still did back flips to avoid the pitfalls of "gifted edication" and to help him build up a strong work ethic, good study habits etc. we also focused heavily on the stuff he struggled with, going so far as to have him take lessons in something he was mediocre at so he'd learn he wasn't always going to just get things. Anyhoo, we realized we were packing a lot of our baggage on him and backed off. Lo and behold he's a reasonably modest (if perhaps too self critical) but still flipping crazy smart kid. He's 13 and skipping high school is a viable option for him. I still praise him for effort and work and not raw talent but I stopped pretending the talent wasn't right there. And that's been a good thing. We don't ignore the elephant in the room nor do we see him tying his whole identity up in it either. It's just a thing. He has dimples. He has brown hair. He wears glasses. He likes noodles. He can process and analyze information quickly and efficiently. He needs educational options that outstrip anything he can get in his grade level. He likes to go on hikes. It's no more reasonable for me to not see his intellect than it is for me to not see his brown hair.

Edited by LucyStoner
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Clever is a relational term; someone is clever in comparison to others. So thinking of yourself as clever is not necessarily arrogant, but it raises the question of why exactly you have surrounded yourself with people whom you consider stupider than yourself. One fairly obvious answer is that you could be mistaken -- in that case, the claim of cleverness could be arrogance. It isn't the only answer, but it is one worth considering.

 

I don't think that thinking of yourself as clever has anything to do with whether you think of the people around you as clever.  If, for example, a kid goes to a top school, they may think that they are clever and their schoolmates are too.  If, on the other hand, a kid goes to a less-than-desirable school (perhaps, in the US, because his family is stuck in a neighborhood where most clever people have the wherewithal to leave and do so ASAP), then they may think of themselves as more clever than their schoolmates (which may in fact be true).

 

I once had to make the choice whether or not to put a child who routinely scored in the top range on standardized tests into our local school where the median scores were in the 12th percentile.  Not a typo - twelfth percentile.  That would have been a recipe for disaster; the potential for arrogance would have been the least of the problems.  

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Knowing that one is clever does not mean one is staking their entire identity on being clever.

 

My husband and I both really didn't want either of our sons to have to deal with the crap we did with being tracked as "gifted". Then our son was one of those kids who was reading and discussing National Geographic at age 5. We still did back flips to avoid the pitfalls of "gifted edication" and to help him build up a strong work ethic, good study habits etc. we also focused heavily on the stuff he struggled with, going so far as to have him take lessons in something he was mediocre at so he'd learn he wasn't always going to just get things. Anyhoo, we realized we were packing a lot of our baggage on him and backed off. Lo and behold he's a reasonably modest (if perhaps too self critical) but still flipping crazy smart kid. He's 13 and skipping high school is a viable option for him. I still praise him for effort and work and not raw talent but I stopped pretending the talent wasn't right there. And that's been a good thing. We don't ignore the elephant in the room nor do we see him tying his whole identity up in it either. It's just a thing. He has dimples. He has brown hair. He wears glasses. He likes noodles. He can process and analyze information quickly and efficiently. He needs educational options that outstrip anything he can get in his grade level. He likes to go on hikes. It's no more reasonable for me to not see his intellect than it is for me to not see his brown hair.

 

Sure, if your kid has big feet you need notice to buy him big shoes.

 

But I think intelligence of all kinds is often given a lot more attention than things like hair colour or shoe size, and it does become part of identity for many kids.  A big part of it IMO is the way that schools operate. 

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Sure, if your kid has big feet you need notice to buy him big shoes.

 

But I think intelligence of all kinds is often given a lot more attention than things like hair colour or shoe size, and it does become part of identity for many kids. A big part of it IMO is the way that schools operate.

Are you saying that my big feet aren't an integral part of my identity?!

 

I jest, but I don't think that being smart means that people are more likely than anyone else to become conceited about it or anything else.

 

I think that culturally kids who are highly intelligent face a lot of pressure to dumb down, not stick out, not to be seen as a know it all, not to break the curve.

 

Most public schools are generally not great places to be if you are an outlier either way academically. Contrary to what many people think, school doesn't generally reward kids for being very academically accelerated. Bright is fine. But very accelerated is just a fast track to freak land even if one is extremely modest about it. Modesty is seen as fake modesty. Confidence is seen as arrogance. The prevailing academic suggestion for very accelerated kids is to buy them too small shoes and wait for the other kids to catch up to their size. "Because it will all even out".

 

I'm glad my son doesn't have to deal with that as much because of how he gets his education.

Edited by LucyStoner
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Are you saying that my big feet aren't an integral part of my identity?!

 

I jest, but I don't think that being smart means that people are more likely than anyone else to become conceited about it or anything else.

 

I think that culturally kids who are highly intelligent face a lot of pressure to dumb down, not stick out, not to be seen as a know it all, not to break the curve.

 

Most public schools are generally not great places to be if you are an outlier either way academically. Contrary to what many people think, school doesn't generally reward kids for being very academically accelerated. Bright is fine. But very accelerated is just a fast track to freak land even if one is extremely modest about it. Modesty is seen as fake modesty. Confidence is seen as arrogance. The prevailing academic suggestion for very accelerated kids is to buy them too small shoes and wait for the other kids to catch up to their size. "Because it will all even out".

 

I'm glad my son doesn't have to deal with that as much because of how he gets his education.

 

I don't really see this as being about being conceited.  Or even about schools giving kids advanced work.  Just about giving a fair bit of positive feed back about doing well, and doing it quickly.  Marks seem to be more important than real learning in many cases.

 

I was in the gifted program in my school area as a kid, and there were a lot of underachievers, and I think a lot of that was tied up in their identity as smart kids.  Being smart kids was absolutely part of the identity of most of the kids, and being able to do well without much effort was a big part of that, even at that point in middle school when they were being given more work in that program.  Why did so many think that being smart was really important?  I think it was because they were consistently rewarded or praised for doing well even when it was easy for them, and teachers and parents seemed to put so much emphasis on outward signs of being clever, like marks and quick answers.

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I don't think that thinking of yourself as clever has anything to do with whether you think of the people around you as clever.  If, for example, a kid goes to a top school, they may think that they are clever and their schoolmates are too.  If, on the other hand, a kid goes to a less-than-desirable school (perhaps, in the US, because his family is stuck in a neighborhood where most clever people have the wherewithal to leave and do so ASAP), then they may think of themselves as more clever than their schoolmates (which may in fact be true).

 

I once had to make the choice whether or not to put a child who routinely scored in the top range on standardized tests into our local school where the median scores were in the 12th percentile.  Not a typo - twelfth percentile.  That would have been a recipe for disaster; the potential for arrogance would have been the least of the problems.  

 

I suppose what I was trying to say is that clever isn't a blanket term. When something a preschooler does is called clever, it is not meant in the same way as when a doctor does something clever or a crow does something clever; the cleverness of crows, preschoolers, and doctors are distinct from eachother because the word is relational.

 

So even if a kid thinks they and their schoolmates are both clever, the question has to be, "OK,  your whole group is clever; but clever in relation to what other groups, and what is your connection to those groups?"

Edited by Anacharsis
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I got tired of it being ok to acknowledge when someone is exceptional artistically or athletically or musically but for it to be horrible to acknowledge when someone is exceptional intellectually in some way.

 

Thanks for saying this! It's exactly what I was thinking. As a parent of children who are, to put it bluntly, 'clever' but really have no other particular talents or gifts, I'm not going to tell them to play down or be embarrassed about being clever when, if their talents were sporting, they'd be taught to shout them from the rooftops (figuratively speaking - literally to try out, push themselves, get to the head of the team). And just like with sporting talent, knowing you have 'clever talent' is the starting point for hard work and perseverance. And in both cases, if you don't have particular talent, you can still choose to build skills in those areas.

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Ugh. It's not about not seeing what is there.

 

I'm obviously not doing a good job of explaining.

 

We can all only deal with the children and histories we have.

 

If it works for other families to say 'You're clever', great. It doesn't work for all.

I don't need to say "you are clever". I also don't need to say when a child casually identifies as clever, among other traits listed in a book, like the OP described, that they are arrogant, conceited or worry about their moral fiber or work ethic.

 

I stopped overthinking and deemphasizing what was manifestly obvious and it really helped me and my child.

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Does all this parsing of the word clever really matter?  I mean, I could see it being an issue if someone is constantly crowing over their cleverness or using it to one-up other people or something.  But a young person made a throwaway comment on a fictional class from a fictional book.  In doing so he was acknowledging that he had a certain attribute (cleverness).  It seems to me that all you have to do is say "yes, you would fit very well in that class, son" and then move on.  Focusing on whether it is arrogant or not, or whether the child is truly clever enough, seems to put undue emphasis on it all. 

 

Edited to fix spelling so maybe I'm not so clever after all . . .

Edited by Jean in Newcastle
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I think you can still be humble and realize you have good qualities or are blessed in various ways. You realize that those things aren't think you've earned and that they make you not inherently better than anyone else. But realizing that you are intelligent, or beautiful, or talented, or whatever, is honest. We should always seek to have an accurate understand of ourselves, both our good qualities and our bad.

 

It becomes arrogant when you rub it in people's face, make sure everyone around you knows just how clever you are, and treat those less clever than you as less important.

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I suppose what I was trying to say is that clever isn't a blanket term. When something a preschooler does is called clever, it is not meant in the same way as when a doctor does something clever or a crow does something clever; the cleverness of crows, preschoolers, and doctors are distinct from eachother because the word is relational.

 

So even if a kid thinks they and their schoolmates are both clever, the question has to be, "OK,  your whole group is clever; but clever in relation to what other groups, and what is your connection to those groups?"

 

I'd totally agree it isn't a blanket term. There are a lot of drivers out on the roads who probably think they are "clever" at getting ahead of everyone else. I'd define it as something else, though. ;)

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Clever is a relational term; someone is clever in comparison to others. So thinking of yourself as clever is not necessarily arrogant, but it raises the question of why exactly you have surrounded yourself with people whom you consider stupider than yourself. One fairly obvious answer is that you could be mistaken -- in that case, the claim of cleverness could be arrogance. It isn't the only answer, but it is one worth considering.

 

Why does my thinking that I am clever mean that I must consider other people stupid?  How are those things related? A an absence of cleverness doesn't equal a lack of intelligence. The presence of cleverness doesn't say anything about someone's IQ.

 

Why is this a zero sum game? And why must my thinking anything positive about myself mean that I am thinking negative things about other people? Do you believe that if I only hold negative opinions of myself that I must automatically hold everyone else in esteem?

 

Is holding negative opinions of oneself morally superior to holding positive ones? Is that what this is about? Because that would be a form of arrogance.

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Nobody in this thread is worried about the remark made by the OP's son, once it was revealed.

 

The more general, initial question raised some interesting questions about 'cleverness'.

 

One mama's overthinking is another mama's thoughtful response.

I said I had overthought it, in the past. And my overthinking led me to downplay my son's academic gifts. I don't think that thoughtfully navigating these waters is necessarily overthinking.

 

On this thread there is a lot of ascribing negative traits onto people who think they are (pick your term for smart). I think that says more about our cultural beliefs than about any one person.

 

I share many of your beliefs here- for example, emphasizing working hard over intelligence. But I really do think some of the stridency in your posts and many of the assumptions you have made about others (and if we understand your point) are rooted in your own issues with this topic. It doesn't follow for instance that those who don't think it arrogant to be aware of one's talents are tellig their kids "you are clever" or pressuring their child academically or not encouraging working hard.

 

Is someone who thinks they are clever an arrogant person? Maybe. But that alone is just not enough information to decide.

 

Rather than label a child arrogant as a reaction to our feelings about academic labels in general, I'd rather characterize it as confidence and a positive self image and pair that with work, if needed, on boosting other positive skills to go with that, such as kindness and good sportsmanship.

 

Edited for more detail.

Edited by LucyStoner
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I keep thinking "clever is as clever does".  It really doesn't tell us anything about a person's character.  Or productivity for that matter.  I see it as a neutral attribute.  It certainly can be positive if used for good.  And it could be negative if you are talking about a clever criminal.  I don't see anything negative about sharing acknowledgement of attributes.  It's not like my kids can make themselves more clever just so as to get accolades or something.  I suppose if I say that I'm clever that I mean it in a positive way because good character is important to me and I would hope that any cleverness would be influenced by good character.   It's not like I think about it much but if someone is asking about positive attributes then it makes sense to include that as one. 

 

 I also don't see anything all encompassing about an attribute such as this one.  Just because someone is clever doesn't mean that is the only way that you can describe them. 

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lol, strident. That's a word I'm not used to hearing from other women...

 

I think you are reading into my posts things that aren't there.

 

This topic obviously touches a nerve on both sides of the argument.

These are long settled matters for me- I can truthfully say there are not exposed nerves here on it.

 

I truly think it's facinating that we celebrate people having all sorts of gifts. But not high intellect. On that issue we are supposed to buy the notion that everyone has more or less the same potential. I can lift a lot of weight. No matter how much I work at it though, there are people who will always be able to lift a lot more. Because their bodies were built even better than mine for it. I do not have the potential to lift as much as Olympic lifters do for example. No one assumes that I am insulting someone who can lift less than me when I merely lift my weight or if when asked, I tell someone my current weight for a lift. But when an exceptionally smart child merely "lifts their weight" they are often put down and lambasted for doing so even when there is no trace of bragging or demonstrable arrogance at all. They are bullied by peer and adults alike.

 

I've tried to think of an activity we treat the same as intellectual pursuits and I can't find one. No one tells a runner they are too fast for their own good or a soccer goalie they stop too many goals for their own good or a singer that they sing too well for their own good. If anyone can give me a good example of an activity we do react to the same as "cleverness", I would really appreciate it.

Edited by LucyStoner
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This is always and interesting and frustrating conversation on here. Is it okay to say you're smart, clever, etc? I always wonder why some of us think it is and some of us think it isn't. I still haven't figured that out yet.

 

Anyway, I read an interest article today. It discussed the Dunning-Kruger effect. Basically, what they found was that those who scored higher in IQ tended to underestimate their own intelligence while over estimating the skills of others. On the flip side, those who boasted of being smart tended to be overestimating their intelligence. Not only that, they tended to not be capable of understanding that they really weren't as smart as they thought they were.

 

I wonder if a correlation between intelligence and humility has ever been studied and what that correlation might mean. Are smarter people better at understanding the value of humility or is it simply just taught?

 

I also wonder if we pick up on this tendency naturally and assume that those whose boast really aren't as smart as those who don't and so it naturally rubs people the wrong way?

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This cultural phenomena has weird social implications. Someone says "what are your kids doing this summer" and I learned that in many groups is best for me to say "day camp" or "not much, this and that, we are going camping in August" instead of "(name of a selective program for young scholars)". It really shouldn't be any different than "baseball camp" or "hanging out at home" or "working at Dairy Queen" or "visiting grandma" or "going on a trip". Mentioning the program he did was not infrequently met with disbelief that any child wanted to spend their summer like that and any number of fairly bizarre assumptions.

Edited by LucyStoner
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Ds has been given the label of "genius" (based on objective tests).   He does not view this as a positive or even a neutral attribute because people will say things like "you're freakishly smart" or other equally negative comments.  It's been bad enough that he does see himself as a freak because of it.  It's not like he did anything to get this attribute.  And just like "cleverness", it can be used for good or ill.  Or not really used at all.  It's just part of him.  I've had to help him to see it as a good thing that can be developed instead of hidden like a guilty secret. 

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We;;, FWIW I do't think it's a very good thing when a person's identity becomes too intertwined with being artistic, or a good athelete, or musical, or with their career.  And I've seen kids and adults both suffer when it happens.  It isn't that they are arrogant, necessarily, or that isn't what I would call it.  It's more that too much can hang on maintaining that identity.

 

I would not say at all that it is only being clever where it happens that people put too much or the wrong kind of emphasis on it, or that people are unaware that it can be a problem with other things too.  In fact I would say it is at least as well recognized as a potential problem in sport, and it's as often allowed to happen.

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This is always and interesting and frustrating conversation on here. Is it okay to say you're smart, clever, etc? I always wonder why some of us think it is and some of us think it isn't. I still haven't figured that out yet.

 

Anyway, I read an interest article today. It discussed the Dunning-Kruger effect. Basically, what they found was that those who scored higher in IQ tended to underestimate their own intelligence while over estimating the skills of others. On the flip side, those who boasted of being smart tended to be overestimating their intelligence. Not only that, they tended to not be capable of understanding that they really weren't as smart as they thought they were.

 

I wonder if a correlation between intelligence and humility has ever been studied and what that correlation might mean. Are smarter people better at understanding the value of humility or is it simply just taught?

 

I also wonder if we pick up on this tendency naturally and assume that those whose boast really aren't as smart as those who don't and so it naturally rubs people the wrong way?

I would just be guessing but I would say that many of the smartest people I know have very high expectations for themselves and tend to be fairly self critical.

 

I would also say that the blow back I saw my son get for being smart had nothing to do with bragging about being smart. It was often just the topics he was interested in, the books he was reading, the things he would say or things he did. I've seen this with other kids and young adults.

 

ETA- also, I think bragging is usually a symptom of insecurity. There are insecure people at all intellectual levels.

Edited by LucyStoner

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I would just be guessing but I would say that many of the smartest people I know have very high expectations for themselves and tend to be fairly self critical.

 

I would also say that the blow back I saw my son get for being smart had nothing to do with bragging about being smart. It was often just the topics he was interested in, the books he was reading, the things he would say or things he did. I've seen this with other kids and young adults.

 

Yes.  All dh has to do is to open his mouth and speak.  His vocabulary and interests speak for themselves.  It isn't affectation or anything.  It's just him being himself and having interests that he's thought about. 

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To me being clever means  solving an issue when the answer is not very obvious.  IMO, being clever requires the ability to make an intellectual jump from what you know to "what might work".  A clever person uses things in new ways and finds uses for bits of information that might seem useless to others.  A clever person is often asked "how do/did you know that/figure it out" and often can only answer that it just makes sense.  

 

I don't see how knowing and being able to talk to those you're close to about it as being arrogant. I should mention that my definition of being clever is a highly valued attribute that runs in my family (mom/dad/sisters) and is one of the main characteristics that I found attractive in DH.  So for us, being clever is just a part of being and not something to be overly proud or ashamed of. 

 

IMO, I think I should be able to be proud of myself, whether I was born with an attribute or I worked really hard at earning it. it's still mine.  Just like my faults, I own them all and they make me who I am..... 

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I would just be guessing but I would say that many of the smartest people I know have very high expectations for themselves and tend to be fairly self critical.

 

I would also say that the blow back I saw my son get for being smart had nothing to do with bragging about being smart. It was often just the topics he was interested in, the books he was reading, the things he would say or things he did. I've seen this with other kids and young adults.

I would agree with you. If you self label yourself as intelligent, would you not have higher expectations of yourself? I've known people on the other side, as well, who don't think they are smart and they don't try.

 

I think with the other kids it and adults it may be insecurity.

 

People are weird.

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We were discussing the of cleverness that goes with doing well at school, finding class easy, doing well on tests and exams etc. Not gifted. Not genius. Just top or near the top of a school classroom.

 

If this is the definition, how could you NOT know you are clever? I mean, it's obvious if you do well on exams and are near the top of your class. That's like asking the person who always wins the race not to realize they are fast. It's just a fact.

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To me being clever means solving an issue when the answer is not very obvious. IMO, being clever requires the ability to make an intellectual jump from what you know to "what might work". A clever person uses things in new ways and finds uses for bits of information that might seem useless to others. A clever person is often asked "how do/did you know that/figure it out" and often can only answer that it just makes sense.

 

I don't see how knowing and being able to talk to those you're close to about it as being arrogant. I should mention that my definition of being clever is a highly valued attribute that runs in my family (mom/dad/sisters) and is one of the main characteristics that I found attractive in DH. So for us, being clever is just a part of being and not something to be overly proud or ashamed of.

 

IMO, I think I should be able to be proud of myself, whether I was born with an attribute or I worked really hard at earning it. it's still mine. Just like my faults, I own them all and they make me who I am.....

I've read every post in this thread and this is the one I agree with the most.
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Why does my thinking that I am clever mean that I must consider other people stupid?  How are those things related? A an absence of cleverness doesn't equal a lack of intelligence. The presence of cleverness doesn't say anything about someone's IQ.

 

Why is this a zero sum game? And why must my thinking anything positive about myself mean that I am thinking negative things about other people? Do you believe that if I only hold negative opinions of myself that I must automatically hold everyone else in esteem?

 

Is holding negative opinions of oneself morally superior to holding positive ones? Is that what this is about? Because that would be a form of arrogance.Well

 

​Well, let me ask -- in order to have the ability to see someone as clever, that means that you can distinguish cleverness from non-cleverness, right? Otherwise everything would seem clever, and the word would not have clear meaning. If I understand correctly, you are saying that the way you distinguish the cleverness of some people can be done without having it relate to the non-cleverness of others; I suppose my confusion is that, to me, this sounds like someone being considered tall without other people being considered short. Can you elaborate a bit?

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​Well, let me ask -- in order to have the ability to see someone as clever, that means that you can distinguish cleverness from non-cleverness, right? Otherwise everything would seem clever, and the word would not have clear meaning. If I understand correctly, you are saying that the way you distinguish the cleverness of some people can be done without having it relate to the non-cleverness of others; I suppose my confusion is that, to me, this sounds like someone being considered tall without other people being considered short. Can you elaborate a bit?

 

I can consider myself short without deciding that being tall is undesirable.  I can define myself as short and not pass judgement that being short gives me any superiority, nor is it a flaw. I can be short and not go around standing next to people to make sure that I am shorter than them so that I can feel good about my own shortness.  I can be with people shorter than I and not feel competitive with their shortness nor feel badly about my own comparative height

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I'm shocked that being smart is seen as a bad thing in some places. I'm sad that some of you and your kids have had to deal with that.

 

In this area of the world people admire smart and even the perception of smart...so much so that people go out of their way to share the smart things their kids do and other kids say "you're so smart" as a good thing. I see it admired on par with other talents.

 

I have huge issues with labels so I hate when acknowledgement of any talent crosses the line into identity.

 

Regarding clever...

I don't think clever and smart are the same.

Some words seem to have comparison "built in" and I think that's where I think it's just sort of a social misstep to publicly, not in the context of sorting etc, self-identify as clever or quirky or anything else with that built in comparison.

 

Interesting thread!

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