Electing the Smart Guy

Ill Doctrine, of all people, got me wondering: can we fix our cultural hostility to electing smart people to office by fixing the way we teach?  At the end of his video, he talks about how electing the smart guy trips people’s high-school sense of inadequacy.  But what if we designed our schools to make more students value intelligence, not just in themselves but in others?

Perhaps I’ll move this book farther up on my reading list and see where things go.  Oh!  And I’m sure Alfie Kohn has something useful on this topic.  Plus we know from Carol Dweck that people’s hypotheses about the nature of intelligence matter for how they learn; I bet it matters for how they think about others’ learning too.  I can’t recall offhand whether she’s taken any data on that, but given how generally awesome her work is, I wouldn’t be surprised if she just happened to have some.

If you wanted to look at this in a naturalistic context, you can quantify the degree to which a school emphasizes competition and compare attitudes across schools.  On the other hand, I wonder how you could start to measure a school’s intellectual culture?  I grew up in a school culture that valued intelligence – the smart kids were the cool kids! – but my partner had the opposite experience.  I bet that plays into things too.

I cannot get too distracted by this idea right now, but I’m totally putting this on my “learn more about later” list!

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