This installment of Patrick on the Edge was featured on the air this week as part of the Gifted & Talented Education Show.
I AM A NERD. And I am proud of it. That's the trend that’s emerging in Alaskan High Schools today.
Nerds are no longer those quiet, insecure kids with thick glasses and backpacks bursting with books. Nowadays, nerds are more than someone to steal lunch money or homework from. They participate in sports, student government, and go to school dances. Yes, this means that the modern nerd actually has a social life (gasp)! It's not like the nerds are revered as gods, and most people probably won't go as far as to call them "cool", but among nerds, most are happy and confident with their choice of staying in and writing college essays as opposed to doing whatever it is that the "cool" kids are doing right now.
I think this real-life Revenge of the Nerds started for me in Elementary School. I remember my 5th grade teacher telling the class to "be nice to nerds, because one day they'll be your boss." I laughed at the time, and told myself that I could have the best of both worlds- I could make fun of nerds now, and be their boss later (I hadn't yet realized my own nerd pedigree, but I had been told I was smart, so I believed it). But that line always subconsciously stuck with me, and I am prepared to apply it if I'm ever made fun of- I'll just retort with the fact that okay, I'm a nerd. At least I won't be flipping burgers at age 30, like some people.
With more and more people going to college, an emphasis is placed on the intellectually gifted since day one. Countless kids I know were in IGNITE (An elementary school program for gifted students that encourages them to think critically and outside the box). But curiously, some kids I know, and consider to be very smart, were never in programs like IGNITE. They weren't picked, so they worked even harder than most of the "gifted" kids. It's a testament to the statement that intelligence is nothing without work ethic.
This trend continues as the budding nerds get older. In 6th grade, Goldenview Middle School offers a zero-hour (before school) pre-algebra class to gifted students, putting them 2 years ahead of the "normal" 6th grader. In high school, all students with a 3.5 GPA or higher are recognized at an assembly, and last year at Service High School there were over 300 students who achieved that GPA.
While our numbers continue to grow, nerds aren't really the new epitome of cool. There probably won't be movies made glorifying the life of a nerd, just more making fun of them (because that's funnier). But you can bet that the movie director, executive producer and sound master who make that movie are all nerds in their own right. They might not shout it from the rooftops, but they know they wouldn't be where they are today if it wasn't for their brains.