Thursday, June 21, 2012

Day 173 of Your Year to Wellness; Dumbing Down

Keep rising

Fitting In by Putting You Down

They say that confession is good for the soul so here it is; a few days ago, I told my daughter that I often find myself trying to dumb down just to fit in. Now since I’m telling the whole truth I’ll tell you that I don’t call it “dumbing down” because I really have a problem with embracing my smarts. I think I’ve been accused of “trying to be smart,” one too many times.
My daughter actually jumped up and screamed, “Oh, mommy me too,” she said. “I want to tell people, I don’t know anything about the Kardashians and I don’t care, but I know plenty of other things I’d like to discuss.”
She told me that she often felt the need to be less than herself just to fit in. We both shook our heads and acknowledged that intelligence and the desire to learn should never be hidden but realized that in the real world it’s often ignored, frowned upon and even rejected.

Then I remembered back when I was told by my daughter's teachers that she and her siblings did not iteract much with other students. I asked my normally chatty crew what could be the matter and they told me that all the other kids watched and talked about television shows and that because they didn't watch TV during the week, they had nothing to say. I relented to the no TV during the week rule and at first they were all happy, but then they took to watching nature shows, PBS programming and shows on the Discovery and History channels.

My youngest daughter watched popular shows and then researched them. I had to laugh when the teachers then told me that they still didn't fit in because they were trying to be "too smart." I wanted to say "Hey isn't it your job to ignite a passion for learning."
I reminded my daughter of all of this and she laughed and said "Once a nerd, always a nerd."
I told her that she should never feel that she is above anyone else, but she shouldn’t feel beneath them either.
Now, I believe that what we tell our children is what God is also trying to tell us, so I recognized my own truth and I decided that from that day on I would rejoice in my intelligence, always seek wisdom and understanding and would celebrate who I am becoming. I asked my daughter to do the same and so we shook hands on it.
I’ve got an early flight and a new book to read, so let me get to what I hope will be a great lesson for you.
Today ask yourself the following:

·         In an attempt to seem more normal, are you hiding your greatness?

·         Do you try to make others feel better by putting your own self down?

If you do either of these, STOP.

Be you, be well, be YOU
Bertice Berry, PhD.


  1. I think it is wonderful that you have instilled a love of knowledge in your children. As a kid I was in an "enriched" group at school. Once a week they took a few of us out of class and we went to a special room with a special teacher and from what I remember mostly did logic problems (you knoe the one with the man and the sheep, the wolf and the cabbage trying to cross the river ). Lucky for me my best friend came with me so I never had to deal with teasing from other kids.
    I never saw the benefits from these weekly sessions until, as an adult I realized that I was using them everyday at work. When colleagues come to me with a problem my brain immediately switches to logic problem mode and I am taking the sheep and the wolf across the river. I have spent hours with my daughters engaging them in thinking games- life is a never ending learning experience. They will have lots of teachers in their lives, some good and some bad, but if they have a passion for learning they will seek it out no matter where they are in life. I do. That's how I came to find you...

  2. Dr. Berry, this post disturbed me when you said a teacher told your children they were trying to be too smart. I can almost guarantee a teacher would not dare say that to a white parent. You have articulated what is wrong it urban schools, low expectations and bad teachers who are allowed to stay because parents won't get rid of them.

    1. Thanks for commenting. I actually debated whether or not to include that section and in the end went back and added it. As you know this is a problem and it remains to be one for children of all ages, races and religions. I hate to admit it, but I was paying for that one. Afterwards, we left the privare school and went to a public one. Then they finished up at an amazing school in Savannah fro kids with learning differences. I have 5 adopted children, they are unique and wonderful; I have always stood up for them, but I had little time to fight folks who were out of purpose. We simply look for the ones who are in Purpose. Peace