Where is all that intelligence? . . . A back-to-school post


Well, summer is over and it is back-to-school time again here in Knoxville, Tennessee. I’m sure you’ve noticed the many Freshmen and their parents bustling around Wal-Mart looking for just the right laundry hamper or organizer for that new dorm room. It seems many years ago that I (now a second year graduate student at UT) went through that same process. Unbelievably, my little sister is one of these new Freshmen at a school in south Georgia, which only makes me feel older. But, what strikes me about this particular class of freshmen is not the fact that they look like they should be in ninth grade. Freshman always look young to older college students, just as ninth graders look young to high school seniors.

This particular class of entering Freshman is said to be the most intelligent class to ever enter the University of Tennessee. Yet, I watched as many new students made the same old mistakes that students had been making for generations: Late to class on the first day, not being able to  find their classrooms, never understanding the bus system, or being dumb enough to get drunk the day before school starts.

All this made me think of how my older brother used to make compare us as children. According to him, I got the “book smarts” and he got the “common sense”. As much as I hate to admit it, he was sort of right. I wonder if this is what we should expect to see from the rest of the new “smarter” generation. Do the high scores they make on their ACT or SAT really earn them the right to be thought so brilliant? Let’s look two definitions that the Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia gives for intelligence . . .


 noun \in-ˈte-lə-jən(t)s\

(1) : the ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situations : reasonalso : the skilled use of reason
(2): the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one’s environment or to think abstractly as measured by objective criteria (as tests)
While there is no doubt that today’s new students are excelling on the second point, I can only hope that they will do as well on the first. I wish them all the very best and hope that they all can succeed. I do, however, hope that the stereotype of being highly intelligent which they have been tagged with doesn’t make them harder to teach. May they all be humble enough to learn. Hopefully, unlike my brother says about me, they have some “common sense” to go along with their “book sense”.
Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
What do you think? Is there a difference between having good common sense and being book smart? Which is more important? Let me know in the comments section below!
Happy School Year!

2 thoughts on “Where is all that intelligence? . . . A back-to-school post

Comments are closed.