Nerds and Geeks

26 Jul

Ever ask yourself whether you’re rearing your child to be a “geek or a nerd”? Or is this the furthest thing from your mind?  If your immediate thought is no way, you might want to reconsider.

LZ Granderson, a CNN contributor with CNN.com wrote recently that he is raising his son to be a nerd.  My question is why are more parents following his lead?

I know both names are horribly unflattering and I’m the first to agree that we need more positive, affirming, and “cooler” names to describe people who are intellectually curious. But, let’s not lose sight of the goal and allow our culture’s negative attitude about the name dissuade us from rearing our children so that they become the inventors of new technologies and not simply consumers of it.

As parents our top priority is to develop children with intellectually curious minds who are eager to learn and who perceive learning as exciting and important. But, let’s be honest and ask ourselves how excited are we when they earn good grades or aspire to become a presidential scholar? There are no cheers, little applause and even less fanfare for successful classroom pursuits.  We save these behaviors for their participation in competition on various fields or courts.

Rearing your child to be a “nerd” is hard to pull off in a culture that says it values education then eliminates federal funding for Reading is Fundamental and disinvests in early childhood learning.  I agree with Granderson when he says, “we just like to say we do (value education) because as citizens of an industrialized nation, we’re supposed to.”

But, children aren’t stupid and talk is cheap. They see and hear the duplicity in our actions and need their parents to take the lead, especially now. When we begin to celebrate our children’s successful results on science and Spanish tests as we do the outcomes of their successful football and basketball games, when we are as affirming of our children studying for a test as we are of them practicing a 360 degree dunk – we’ll take a few needed steps toward signaling to our children that we value education and think it critical to their future success.

Let’s face it, being perceived as cool doesn’t assure you’ll be successful, and it’s only important in the short-term.  Parents are responsible for looking out for their children’s long-term interests.  If that means making choices between their child’s “cool factor” and their intellectual development, the choice is pretty clear.  More importantly, show them how it means they shouldn’t have to make a choice at all–that being cool doesn’t have to contradict being seriously educated.

Check out LZ Granderson’s story below:

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One Response to “Nerds and Geeks”

  1. Simone W. Morton July 28, 2011 at 5:58 pm #

    I’ve raised two Nerds and Geeks. Both are engineering students at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The two had a variety of interests growing up: sports, music (piano, bass, sax, guitar, chorus) drama, community service and active in church and more. They have traveled to countries their parents haven’t – one speaks Spanish and the other Japanese. They are happy, well rounded and well adjusted fine young men. I’m a proud Momma!

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