I told certain readers that I would be estimating the IQ of various people, such as Clark Ashton Smith and Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov..and I will do so, but more research is needed. For now, a simple post about teachers.
It has long been believed that school teachers are good judges of the intelligence of their students, especially if you averaged the IQ estimate made by every teacher you ever had.
Because the heritability of intelligence is thought to double from childhood to adulthood, the older I got, the smarter my teachers thought I was, with a few major exceptions.
In nursery school my teachers probably thought I was dumb because I was a major behavior problem. I would scream and yell when forced to attend school, and once there, would be sent to the corner. The other four year olds asked why I was sent there and I would scream at them not to talk about me. As a result it was recommended that I not attend a French immersion school, and was confined to monolingual education.
In the sixth grade, my teacher took me aside and said something like “the bad news is you’re failing…the good news is, I thinker you’re brighter than 90% of the class.” For some strange reason, he thought I was the best writer he had ever seen, and told the class he wished he could write as well as me. I probably was a good writer for an 11-year-old, but did not progress much since then, partly because I seldom read anything other than blogs. One day when all the students left the class he predicted “One day you’re going to return to this school and say to me, I’m a lot more successful than you are, and far more people know who I am than know who you are, but thank you for believing in me.”
Despite this praise, this teacher became unhinged when I joined the chess team and became the #1 chess player in the entire school, because he felt chess was such a prestigious game that only good students should be on the chess team, let alone number one. I didn’t deserve the title but refused to give it up. When better chess players challenged me, I would mysteriously vanish, or I would drag the game out so long that the lunch break would be over before they could defeat me. However when I represented our school in chess tournaments against other schools, my luck would run out.
In the 9th grade my English teacher worshiped the ground I walked on, giving me not only 100% on assignments, but in one case OVER 100% on a book report for George Orwell’s 1984 which I didn’t even read. However my science teacher thought I was stupid. Making matters worse, there were special resource classes where students could get extra help. I didn’t need any extra help so I stopped attending, causing harassment from one of my classmates who thought I had become uppity. One day this classmate confronted me in science class asking if I thought I was better than the resource students. This lead to a massive physical confrontation in the science class, and the resource teacher, who had went around the school praising both the other boy and I, was furious at both of us for damaging her reputation as a judge of character. I decided to change schools.
At the next school there was a female principal who told me I was one of the cleverest boys she had ever seen. She had probably seen thousands and thousands of boys in her long career, so she probably thought I was a one in a thousand intellect (IQ 147). My English teacher at this school told me I could really go places, and my chemistry teacher told me that intelligence is the ability to adapt.
The next year I went to an alternative high school filled with misfits and ne‘er–do–wells. I became best friends with a very black student with a tested IQ of only 70 and everywhere we went, store clerks would follow him around like he was a criminal. When we went to Subway, a clerk told him to smile for the camera before he robbed the place. I saw firsthand how real racism could be, but he also brought it on himself, changing his subway order so many times he was banned from going there.
At this alternative school, I had an English teacher who I immediately realized what a white-East Asian hybrid and she confirmed to me that she was. She was incredibly bright, even inventing a new word: etiquettical, which means related to good etiquette. She was wise: when a classmate and I got into a heated debate over which direction North was, she said, “not all battles are worth going to war over.” It’s a lesson I never forget.
“You’re bright!” she told me. “You’re VERY BRIGHT! But you’re not brilliant, you know.” I asked her how she knew whether I was bright, very bright or brilliant, and she said she could tell from the way I write. Although the only writing she had seen of mine was a short story inspired by a provocative Picture Arangement item on the ancient Wechsler–Bellevue Intelligence Scale.
The following year I attended yet another school where all the most brilliant and most stupid students in the school board were sent. My law teacher was a raging antisemite who would rant everyday about how much he hated Jewish humor. He hated me too. When I would make a point he said “No! FUCK!!!!” but whenever his favorite student (who had a freakishly huge head measured at 24.5 inches) would make a point he would yell “HELLO! THIS KIND OF THING MAKES SENSE!!!”
There was another girl in the class he hated too and she got into a heated debate with him over what a yellow traffic light means. She was saying it meant “slow down” while he insisted it meant “stop if you can do so safely.” Finally he turned to her and said “would you quit telling me the law you uneducated bitch.”
There was another student in the class who looked a bit gay, and everyday the law teacher would say to this student “My God you look gay, today”
Later my girlfriend at the time stopped attending the class because he had said terrible things about several students behind their back including me. What had he said, I wanted to know. She wouldn’t tell me.
“Trust me, you don’t want to know,” she said.
But I kept pestering her. “HE SAID YOU’RE A FUCKING IDIOT WHO SHOULDN’T BE IN HIS CLASS,” she finally screamed. “NOW DID YOU REALLY WANT TO KNOW THAT????!!!!”
It was hard to hear, but it’s good to know what people really think about you. For some mysterious reason, antisemites tend to think I’m stupid.