Being Un-Abnormalized

I always have things I want to talk about–like my experiences with the Tangle Toy I just bought, or the fact that my boyfriend and I almost broke up on Saturday–and then I sit down to write, and something else takes over. So I want to talk about my philosophy class, and the way my professor invalidated and trivialized what I based a large portion of my value on last week.

So I’m taking this Education Philosophy course. It involves a lot of (really awful) dense readings. Last Tuesday my Professor started talking about a bifurcation on Davis’ genealogy–structuralism VS poststructuralism (it’s honestly not even worth explaining what that sentence means, but here’s a link to a description of the book if you’re interested).

She talked about the societal need to ‘normalize’  students. That we give a group of kids a test, and the average score in the room is deemed “normal,” the lower percentage of scores is deemed “at-risk,” and the higher percentage is deemed “advanced.” And then she basically shit on it (it being this classification) for ten minutes.

I wish I had a better way of saying that. Wish I could explain it in intricate, fluffy terms, but that’s what she did. She shit on the only thing that has ever made me feel worth anything my entire life: my intelligence.

I was classified as Gifted when I was eight. My sister was the Dancer, the Nice One, the Pretty One. And those things are all true of her. But I didn’t have those titles. I wasn’t nice. I didn’t dance. I’m not pretty. All I’ve ever had is my brain. So when I was told that my brain really was special, or different, or Worth Something–well, I latched on to it.

So I had a bit of a breakdown, after lecture. Because what she said, in a nut shell, told me that nothing about me was actually Different, or Special, or Worth Something.

I should clarify that I have never been the smartest person in a classroom. My best friend was Valedictorian and is a kind of smart that I can only hope to be. I spent every class for  six years aspiring to be her level of intelligent. So it’s not like my Professor walked into the room and completely crushed my soul.

It was more like she took this thing that I had as an Identifier for the past twelve years and set it on fire.

My sister is still the Nice One. The Pretty One. The Good Cook. The One who Works with Animals.

Now I’m not Gifted. I’m not Worth Something. There aren’t a lot of things I’ve ever wanted people to remember me as–if any, the only ones were Trustworthy, Loyal, Hardworking (oh man, my Hufflepuff is showing), and Intelligent.

So I’ve lost an Identifier. And I know that College is all about Finding Yourself–but this isn’t exactly what I imagined.

-HH

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