Raising Your Children To Be Nerds

Nerd CrossingLast year I published a blog post titled Nerds, Dorks, Geeks, and Cool Dudes. I’d encourage you to bounce over there and read/skim it before continuing as it will set the context for the rest of this post.

OK. For those that didn’t read it, my point was to distinguish between these various labels we toss around and slap on people. They all have different meanings, different connotations, and stir up different emotions. Personally, I’m proud to say that I am a dork.

From the day Eva was born, Kristina has been telling me that she wants her to be a nerd. We don’t necessarily want her to be the most popular kid in school or the prettiest. In fact, Kristina has already made my father – a pediodontist – promise that he’ll put braces on Eva when she’s 13 (whether or not she needs them). We want Eva to value learning, to question things around her, to take her studies seriously … but also have fun. For those who watch the NBC show, Parenthood, we want Eva to be Haddie Braverman. All that being said, we also realize that we can influence who Eva is going to be, but in the end, much of it is out of our control.

And…segue…

Why I’m Raising My Son To Be A Nerd

That was the title of an article I read on CNN.com last week from LZ Granderson, a senior writer and columnist for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com and a weekly columnist for CNN.com. Granderson is also “a 2010 nominee and the 2009 winner of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation award for online journalism and a 2010 and 2008 honoree of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association for column writing.” Most importantly, LZ is a father.

Please take a few minutes and head over to CNN.com to read Granderson’s piece, Why I’m raising my son to be a nerd. I’ll wait. Also, I just love that he took the time to film & post a video response. He clarifies a few points, responds to some comments directly, and even talks to us about what he – the writer – learned from the readers.

 

I loved the entire article, but the last paragraph sums it up best.

If we want to have any lasting influence on the way our kids approach education — the way future generations approach education — then we have to grab our pom-poms and paint our faces and celebrate intellectual curiosity with the same vigor we do their athletic achievements.

Granderson is challenging us – parents, teachers, society – to take responsibility for our children’s education. He’s encouraging us to “celebrate intellectual curiosity.” I just love that.

What Granderson wrote really hit home for me. As a parent, did it also resonate with you? Are you raising your children to be nerds (or dorks)?

Image: Flickr – jparise

DJ Waldow
@djwaldow

12 comments
covati
covati

Thanks for this post, DJ. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Nina isn't quite ready for much of my nerdiness, but as I learn more and more about running a company I keep seeing lessons that I want my daughter (and future kids) to learn.

My hope is that I can instill in my children the desire to learn, question assumptions, and just generally be inquisitive about the world around them and why it works the way it does.

On a side note, I'm not a jock at all, I just never got into sports all that much. And i know this colors my view of sports, so I'll admit that. But I am personally disappointed by the focus that many colleges and even high schools have on sports.  I think Molly had a great point, fitness is very important, but being an elite athlete is not.

I do see the value of building spirit and giving people something to get behind. And it is a fun distraction for busy and stressed students. But that's a poor excuse to divert so much money and effort into college sports programs. My personal belief is that it is a perversion of why these institutions exist.

Sue Anne Reed
Sue Anne Reed

I think the trick is to nurturing your child to be whatever their natural talents create for them and being okay with it no matter what it is. I have nephews that are natural-born jocks and then I have nephews that are natural-born dorks / nerds. I've tried to support them equally in whatever endeavor makes them happy. 

Molly Zimmer
Molly Zimmer

Yes! Yes! and Yes!  I am raising 3 very differently gifted children.  One loves being on stage, one loves computers and one loves food.  I support their adventurous nature about sports, school, religion and leisure as best I can (limited time and human resources mean we schedule lightly).  The overriding theme of our family, utilizing socialization and role modeling to prepare the kids for their adult lives, is find your passion and become a life-long learner about it.  Life-long fitness is important, being an elite athlete is not.  The best moments we have witnessed as parents all involved learning a new skill - hitting a baseball, learning to read, hitting the high note, realizing a favorite recipe can be hand made in the kitchen - so fun to watch as each child learns and grows.  Encouraging the kids to want to know more, and become a geek, nerd or specialist, is the true joy of parenthood! 

Wwaldow
Wwaldow

OK, I guess we did a hell of a job.......... you dork!

Sunny Hunt
Sunny Hunt

My 7 year old is attending his third week of Math Olympics at this very moment.

My hope is that he develops a real passion for learning, exploration and application.  If he retains his virginity until he's 20, that's just a bonus for me.

Tom Martin
Tom Martin

Absolutely and I'm succeeding! I spent much of last night with my 9 year old editing a video on his new Mac... the kid knows Final Cut better than most and now he's Mastering Garage Band... gotta think his nerdy love of video/audio production will serve him well when he's growing up/working in the real world.

Good stuff DJ -- thanks for posting.

DJ Waldow
DJ Waldow

Glad you are thinking about this early on, Adam. Nina is lucky to have such incredible parents.

DJ Waldow
DJ Waldow

Great point, Sue Anne. Thanks for adding!

DJ Waldow
DJ Waldow

That really makes me smile. I've read it 4x now. That you for sharing and for being a wonderful parent to your children. They are VERY lucky.

DJ Waldow
DJ Waldow

And a fine job you did, dad. Don't forget about those braces...

DJ Waldow
DJ Waldow

"If he retains his virginity until he's 20, that's just a bonus for me." Awesome. Having met your son (finally), I can say ... dude is smart! Thanks for being a great mom to your son, Sunny.

DJ Waldow
DJ Waldow

Love that Tom. Thanks for sharing. You are an awesome dad. Your son is lucky!