Cole Floats Ideas: What is “Smart”?

by Cole B.:

All throughout history, mankind has seen countless people of magnificent intellect. Even the most intelligent person cannot say that they have never wanted to be “smarter”. But what really is “smart”?

Concluded from my own personal experience at the wonderful Jefferson Middle School, “smart” is a variety of things, each one completely dependent on the perception of the beholder. But there are several questions to be asked about “smart”.

Is “smart” knowing all the answers?

Is it having good grades?

How about having realistic views on the world?

Having unique and realistic philosophies?

What about having good morals?

The list goes on, constantly failing to be clearly defined for a constant period of time.

Personally, I believe that “smart” is not one thing or another for very long because, as does everything, times change, and so does the way the people perceive things. What is considered brilliant at one point in time might be considered average intelligence at a later date.

From my own firsthand experience, “smart” appears to be, as generally misconstrued by the school population. Knowing all the answers, studying, and having good grades causes others to see you as “smart”. One might argue that “smart” is simply being intellectually advanced or superior, but how does that make somebody smart? Just because somebody knows more than you do, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are smarter than you are.

This raises another question: How is intelligence classified? Traditionally we classify intelligence with an I.Q., but that is just a number. How are we supposed to really know how smart somebody is? Usually, intelligence correlates with the I.Q. number of a specific person. But if somebody of average intelligence does well in an average class, does that mean that they are “smart”?

In my opinion, the answer really depends on whom it is being asked. Somebody who is less intelligent than the person might say that he or she was “smart” because they did well in the class. Somebody who is as intelligent as said person might feel that they did an average job, and that to know that was of average intelligence. Somebody of greater intelligence than said person may feel that the person is not “smart”, but simply did well in the class. So the intelligence of a person, as perceived by onlookers, is dependant on the intelligence of said onlookers.

Being considered “smart” is not always a good thing. Unfortunately, quite a large number of intelligent people are outcast from the mainstream group of people who are considered “popular” or “cool”. They have been classified as many different things over the years, such as geeks and nerds. But why would anybody make a derogatory comment or remark about somebody’s intelligence?

Perhaps because they feel that their own intelligence has been threatened, or maybe because they feel like being smart is something to be ashamed of.  Maybe they even make such comments and remarks because deep down inside, they too want to be considered smart or intelligent, so they make said remarks in a futile attempt to degrade and erode the “smart” people’s ego or confidence.

There are endless possibilities for why anybody would make such a remark.

So what really is defined as “smart”? In my opinion, whether or not somebody is “smart” is almost completely dependent on the onlooker. “Smart” may never be clearly and permanently defined, but is rather unknowable, if you know what I mean.


8 thoughts on “Cole Floats Ideas: What is “Smart”?

  1. Personally, I feel that intelligence is your aptitude for knowledge, “smartness” is how much knowledge you possess and wisdom is how you use your knowledge. Regrettably, many are intelligent, few are smart and only a handful are wise.

    Incidentally, is this part of a weekly column?

  2. No, this is not really a weekly column, but rather a short article I wrote in a short amount of time. It was not intended to be the topic of a column, but rather just a short article of my thoughts on the subject.

    I also like your comment, especially when you say “many are intelligent, few are smart and only a handful are wise”. I also like the way you described your idea of the differences between smart, intelligence, and wisdom.

    Thank you for your comment

  3. Cole, what grade are you in?
    I am in agreeance with Ben, intelligence is how much one can learn and how quickly one can learn it, smartness is the amount one has already learned and so on and so on.
    A bit of constructive critisism, Cole, please don’t restrict “smartness” and intelligence to the classroom.

    • Agreed. IQ, grades and almost everything related to school is not an accurate measure of intelligence, wisdom etc.

      Rather, they are easy ways to decide who you should bestow your great wisdom upon.

      Pearls Before Swine.

  4. I am in 8th grade.

    And thanks for the constructive criticism. I am aware that intelligence is not strictly confined to school, but when I wrote this, I had intended for it to be specifically pertaining to our own Jefferson Middle School. Perhaps I should have made that clearer in my article.

    I will try to refrain from doing such a think again.

  5. I apologize, I misspelled “thing” in my last post, I accidentally hit K instead of G, which is weird because they are not close to each other at all on the keyboard.
    I will stop myself before I begin to rant on about the letters of the alphabet on the keyboard, but I just thought I would make it clear that I am aware of my error.

  6. I misspelled “thing” in the last sentence of that comment. I accidentally hit “K” instead of “G”, so it came out as “I will try to refrain from doing such a think again”.

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