Tuesday, October 04, 2005

My Son the Genius

I took last Friday off from work, and so had the pleasure of walking the twins to kindergarten. As we are en route, Joey says out of nowhere that he is a genius.

“Oh yeah, is that right, a genius?” says I.


“What makes you a genius?”

“Cause I answer all the questions.”

Ah yes, but you come to realize later in life that it is not just the ability to answer all the questions, but also the ability to ask novel, interesting, and important questions that you can then go on to answer. Plenty of people can do one of these two, but not both.

Anyway, I pick them up later in the day, and as we are walking, Joey says that now, even his friends are calling him genius.

“Who called you a genius, Joe?”

“My friend Daniel.”

“Why did he call you a genius?”

“Because I wrote the word F-A-R-M all by myself without the teacher.”

Billy started cracking up; it was clear even to him that something more should be required before you’re fast-tracked to the special and talented classes. But maybe he's onto something, and I regret not trying to use that strategy during my thesis defense - when asked a question I had no hope of answering correctly, I should have simply walked to the board and written out "F-A-R-M", and they'd of backed right off.

I’d heard that self-esteem has become a big focus of early education, a development that I am not all that enamored with, but this is going a little overboard.

But I trust that Doctor Hawes, the principle of the school, who by the way is a Doctor, possesses all of the skills necessary to shepard my kid’s early education because, after all, she is a Doctor. Did I mention that she’s a Doctor? If I failed to, it’s not because she doesn’t insist upon that title from her kindergarten charges, because she does. It proves the long-held observation – the likelihood that you insist upon being addressed with the title for receiving a doctorate (as opposed to an MD) is inversely proportional to the prestige of the field and the institution. You’ll never see a professor of physics at MIT making kindergarteners call him doctor.

She seems like a very capable principle, and should view the responsibilities she has in managing a substantial staff, not to mention relationships with parents and the local government, as a position worthy of more respect that can ever be conferred via any degree. I have to remind myself of that every time she introduces herself, after which I crack a string of jokes to the Wife of Hatcher. I’ve even told the kids to ask her if they can get their flu shots from her this year. God I love having kids in school.


Blogger Incredible Dirigible said...

When I was in college, I once addressed one of my profs as "Doctor", & he corrected me by saying, "It's not proper to address someone simply as 'Doctor'. I am 'Doctor Foley'." Geez, I thought, imagine if I'd called him "Mister Foley", or just "Mister".

On the flip side, when I worked at UPenn, I worked with a Dr. Gonzalez. He coached his young daughter's soccer team, & I'm pretty sure the kids on his team just called him "Mr. Gonzalez". Once his wife had to come pick him up at work, & she sent the little daughter in to get him. The little daughter asked, "Is Mr. Gonzalez there?" Strangely, my instinct was to correct her & say, 'he's DR. Gonzalez', but thankfully, I didn't.

Sigh. Dr. Foley. Good grief.

8:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hatcher, your post reminds me of one of my favorite lines about people (this commentor included) harboring that secret feeling that we are a whole lot smarter than everyone else comes from an old Jim Croce song "Working at the Carwash Blues", in which a guy laments that he's hit the pavement but couldn't find a better job because:
"They wouldn't listen to the fact that I was genius. The man said they've got all that they can use."

8:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only time one should be truly considered a doctor is when they are a Doctor of Style.

8:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe now that the kids are in school they can teach you how to spell some of the bigger words, like shepherd and principal.

8:45 AM  
Blogger Hatcher said...

Ah, yes, spelling. Not my strong suit. But did I mention that I have a Ph.D.?

8:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And George has a Presidency, he still can't pronounce nuclear correctly........maybe you can team up to help each other - your spelling and his pronunciation.

9:28 AM  
Blogger Professor Vic said...

Thanks to years of private school, Hatch used to be able to spell quite well. However, just a few years at a public institution (where he earned a Ph.D, did he mention that?) and it's all gone.

I'm convinced. Bring on vouchers!

9:48 AM  
Blogger Hatcher said...

Watch it, "hypocracy" boy, you've had reason to lament lack of spell-checking software. Which brings me to a separate point about criticizing spelling - presumably the software gurus who have developed spell-checking are not necessarily good spellers. The fact that they can program a machine to do it for you implies that spelling is not all that impressive as a skill. And given decent spell-checkers, devoting time to developing your own spelling abilities is woefully inefficient.

9:54 AM  
Blogger pbryon said...

Long live homonyms! But Hatcher appears homophobic...

11:32 AM  
Blogger Bayou Barrister said...

Undeniably, I must attibute the Superior (no pun intended) intellectual acumen of both mine and Hatcher's offspring to that of the gene pool to which are wed.

Why just the other day, I asked AJ if he liked his 1st grade teacher and he said, "She's o.k."

"Just o.k.? Why is she just o.k.?" I ask.

"We're all smarter than she is."

"What makes you think your smarter than she is?" I retort. (NOTE: I only ask these questions in spirit of Socratic learning method for I am already armed with the knowledge that any offspring of mine, is, at birth, smarter than any 3rd grade teacher, much less a 1st grade teacher.)

"Daddy, she doesn't know anything. We actually have to tell her the answers to everything."

See there, GENIUS.

1:47 PM  
Anonymous hansirr said...

Shouldn't there be an expiration date on titles? This coming from an offspring of a 10+year retired "Doctor" who still refers to himself as such as well as requires the grandchildren to use his title when addressing him in public.

Come on - he hasn't used any of the Ph.D crap for the past 20 years. Maybe there should be a retesting when you reach a certain age, similar to a driver's license.

7:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am mildly embarrassed to say I am a practicing attorney. When you graduate law school, they give you, believe or not, a doctorate degree.

Now, I have yet to meet a lawyer I would call doctor. The degree does come in handy when dealing with annoying PhD’s. They really get pissed when I make them call me "Dr. Evans".

4:24 AM  
Blogger Pulvarizer said...

Well, seeing as I don't have a Ph.D., just a lowly BA, I have nothing to add on this subject.

But, on another subject, leave it to a conservative to beautifully express, albeit for somewhat different reasons, why I, a proud liberal, think Dubba-yah is a lousy president.

6:26 AM  
Blogger Hatcher said...

As for a re-testing to retain your title, I cannot advocate that draconian course, because if subjected to it 1 day after my defense, I'd have been stripped of the title.

6:46 AM  
Anonymous J W said...

Ah yes to be smarter than a 1st grade teacher is something...but to actually tell your high school English teacher that you are smarter than she is, well only a future PhD would do that, eh Hatcher?

I don't know if any of you people are good spellers -- I just know that none of you is a good typist.

Finally, one has to ask: which of the twins is more like his dad -- the one who claims to be a genius, or the one who laughs at anyone who proclaims himself a genius?

6:32 AM  

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