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Not all nerds are equal

Not all nerds are equal

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Published by Senthil Sukumar

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Published by: Senthil Sukumar on Dec 14, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Assignment No. 1by
Senthil Sukumar
Group No. G17Academic WritingCORE 006, T2 AY 09-10I declare that this Assignment is my original work and all information obtained from othersources has been cited accordingly. _______________________Signature and DateCourse Instructor: Elizabeth Rankin
In his essay “Celebrating Nerdiness”, Tom Rogers, a teacher at South Carolina High School,attempts to convince readers of the virtues of the nerd archetype. Although Rogers writes anentertaining piece about accepting difference, his attempts to make nerds seem special (or evensuperior) ultimately fail because he relies solely upon anecdotal evidence.In his opening, Rogers’s attempt to dispel the misconceptions associated with nerds makes itseem that his intended target audience are members of the general public; those who still cling tothe “... narrow-minded and thoughtless stereotypes” associated with nerds. Here, he mounts hisfirst and only defense against one of the misconceptions associated with nerds, namelysycophantism. He asserts that what is perceived as objective bootlicking is actually incontradiction with the social ineptness inherent in nerds. However, Rogers seems to be taking theeasy way out by simply explaining away the misconception that nerds are “suck-ups” with theconcept of non-conformism, and neglects the fact that there are other denominations of teenagestereotypes that would be labeled as non-conformist and yet are the furthest thing from beingnerdy or sycophantic. Rogers’s argument here lacks substance, and would have beenstrengthened if he had given more contextual reasons as to why nerds exhibit their particularbrand of anti-social behavior.Subsequently, Rogers’s arguments for the acceptance and celebration of the differences thatnerds bring to the teenage palette transform into an anecdotal discourse of positive reinforcementaimed squarely at nerds. Rogers himself admits that he became a high school teacher so that hecould personally tell young nerds that being a nerd was “something wonderful.” He usesexamples of famous intellectuals such as Tesla and Einstein to justify the wonderfulness of nerdsby equating “17-year-old versions of these men” with contemporary high school nerds. Here,Rogers presents a skewed and fallacious argument in an attempt to equate nerds with genius and
vice versa. By using words such as “idealistic” and “eccentric” to describe these famousindividuals, and asserting that these intellectual heavyweights would fall neatly into the moderndefinition of the nerd stereotype, he cleverly attempts to associate these characteristics with nerds.Rogers has clearly confused the qualities of nerds with intellectual capability, and seems tobelieve that both are one and the same. The use of the word “arrogant” to describe Newton isparticularly interesting, as Rogers seems to be implying that it is acceptable for nerds to bearrogant because in their case, it accompanies genius. When put into the context of Rogers’senumeration of nerd-like qualities, this example is particularly jarring and should have been leftout, as it in no way convinces readers to sympathize with nerds.In addition, Rogers has completely ignored many of today’s youths who do not fit the classicimage of nerds or do not share the defining attribute of genius. There are many youths who areintelligent yet move comfortably within social circles, and conversely, there are youths who maycouple average or below average academic performance with social ineptness. Rogers essentiallyattempts to positively reinforce the stereotype of nerds by equating them with attributes of personality and more explicitly, genius. This tactic is reminiscent of the perceived stereotype thatall blondes are dumb, when in actual fact blonde hair is in no way an indicator of intelligence.Apart from superficially equating genius with nerds, Rogers displays an inconsistent andcontradictory stance on the merits of exhibiting nerd-like qualities. On his sons, Rogers says thatthey were raised as nerds partly because he did not possess the “cleverness” to raise “cool” kids.Rogers’s placement of the word “cleverness” after his previous assertions that all nerds aregeniuses seems to imply a twinge of regret at his inability to be a “cool” parent himself. Rogersseems to be questioning his decision to raise his sons as nerds, and even goes so far as to say thathe did so because he was indulgent on his part and “... wanted nerds to talk to.” He compensates

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