Wednesday, September 07, 2011

The Types of Smart

An assertion that someone is very smart tells you very little.

We've all known people in school who made marvelous grades and yet we wouldn't hire them to watch paint dry. They are academically smart but they lack common sense and - my old favorite - street smarts. Unfortunately, many of us have been taught to accord great deference to those who are academically smart. [Many of our teachers were in that category.] There is an aura when certain credentials are mentioned and we would do well to continue that deference, provided it is brief and does not receive undue weight.

The street smart seldom get such respect unless bullets are flying and you need to cross the boulevard. At gentler occasions, they may mispronounce words and pick up the wrong fork, but you know who you want by your side when things gets tough.

An admirable goal, of course, is to acquire both types of smart. The academic side will boost your analysis but the street side will temper that with large doses of reality. It will get you through and head off a lot of difficulties.

In short, understand and appreciate poetry but be able to size up a situation and throw a good punch.

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