Sunday, September 27, 2009

The difference between Stupid and Ignorant

People tend to use the words "stupid" and "ignorant" as though they're interchangeable. They're not. Time and time again, I've heard kids and adults call one another stupid, and, thus, continue labeling one another as stupid.

It's about time this stops. Because, when a kid gets told they're stupid, that labels them as someone that is stupid. When they get told they're stupid constantly, they begin to internalize that label and all of its connotations. They believe they're stupid and its cousins: worthless and no good. So, now, a definition lesson. This is what I've taught my juvenile detainees are the definitions of the words stupid and ignorant:

  1. Ignorant. Being ignorant means that you have a lack of knowledge about either a specific subject or in general. For example: I've never studied astrophysics. I am ignorant about astrophysics. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being ignorant.
  2. Stupid. Being stupid means that you lack intelligence or common sense, that you know you're ignorant about something and don't do a thing about it. Example: A student taking an algebra class who knows he doesn't know the information, but he doesn't study. There is a lot wrong with being stupid.
I don't care what the subject matter is - politics, sociology, your love life - if you're being stupid about it, then you need a wake up call. It is more than ok to simply lack information about something, but it is plain wrong to purposefully keep yourself in the dark. The only way anybody gets ahead in the world is by taking the initiative to better themselves, and the simplest way to do that is by doing a little brain work.

And please, stop calling one another stupid unless it is absolutely well-deserved. This term is a horrible word that carries awful connotations, and it can utterly destroy a kid's self-esteem. Learn what words mean, and you can give power to the right ones. Better yet, you can recognize an opportunity for some outreach. Help a kid out instead of putting him/her down for being wrong.

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

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