Listening to The Michael Baisden Show (10.14.2009) after work the other day, the topic was 'Dumb It Down'. It was heartbreaking to hear about kids being tormented for getting good grades. After picking up son, before letting him hear the show, I asked him if anyone bothered him about his grades. He said 'Yes'. With this kid, we had to immediately talk about it. While in preschool, he thought his name was 'Benjamin Is Smart' because he heard the phrase so many times from his teachers. In first grade, he once wore my mother's eyeglasses (with bifocals) to school because students were calling him a nerd and he thought nerds were supposed to wear glasses. I made him feel better by informing him that I, along with my friends, were considered nerds and we all NOW are doing quite well.
He's now in third grade and first term at a new school. He said that along with a few others, he was being ridiculed for receiving A's. It shocked me to know that there are 'B', 'C', and 'D' gangs. Since no 'A' gang, he was feeling isolated. I reminded him of my "nerdiness" and that the President and First Lady are both considered the same. He felt so much better and doesn't plan to "Dumb Down" at all, but plans to "get his". I'm so thankful he has the strength to not let others diminish his goals.
This morning I watched a segment on CBS Sunday Morning about nerds. I tried to remember if I was bothered in school about my grades or being a nerd. I do not recall any specific taunts, so I just checked my grades to see if I could notice a pattern. (My mother kept an album for all my report cards, certificates, and notices of excellence from 1st to 12th grade.) Excluding handwriting (lol), I had A's and B's from 1st to 4th grade. Something happened in 5th grade. I started Reading and Mathematics on 4th grade level with C's. During the 3rd and 4th grading periods, I moved up to 5th levels for both areas having B's in the last grading period. Finishing Reading with a final B average, but not enough for Math, ending with a C average. A note in my record that I could not receive an A or B when I was below average.
The progression continued in the 6th grade. Reading started on proper level with B's then to A's, but also excelled to 7th grade level with A's. Mathematics was on proper level with B's. In 7th grade, I was on 8th grade level in reading with B's and mathematics from B's to A's on proper level.
Looking at the pattern I had to think back for anything that happened to lower my grades in 4th and excellence in 5th grade. I do remember being teased that I didn't wear trendy clothing and I was not popular, but not which year. That could have been the cause. The only significant incident I can remember in the 5th grade was the ONLY fight I've ever had in my life. It started in recess with a "trouble-maker" (MT) began teasing me in a crowd of my classmates. Normally this didn't affect me but the addition of a "friend" joining them must have hurt and weakened my self-control. MT began to laugh and point a finger in my face, a BIG NO-NO! I recall pushing her hand out of my face. It was ON from that point. I lost complete control. I recall seeing my arms swinging can't recall any emotion. Also I recall pushing the PE teacher away and continuing. I have no recollection of how it was stopped.
Not known for getting in trouble, I was given a pass and not even sent to the principal's office. Ironically, MT later wanted to be friends and many others left me alone.
It's sad, but I'm glad it happened. It appears to have shaped what I am today and helps me guide my son through all he has faced and what he may face in the future.
15 hours ago