Bell Assignment 2

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Book smarts vs. Street smarts
SCOTT BERKUN
Posted on February 9th, 2010 in Philosophy, reader's choice

In a series of posts, called readers choice, I write on whatever topics readers submit. [Note: Polarizing questions are silly since rarely in life do you have to make such exclusive choices. Often you can find a way to obtain both, not either/or. For fun assume you've stolen my lunch money and refuse to give it back until I play along and pick a side. Also see: The false dichotomy of false dichotomies] There is no doubt in my mind street smarts kicks book smarts ass. To be street smart means you have situational awareness. You can assess the environment you are in, who is in it, and what the available angles are. Being on the street, or in the trenches, or whatever low to the ground metaphor you prefer, requires you learn to trust your own judgment about people and what matters. This skill, regardless of where you develop it, is of great value everywhere in life regardless of how far from the streets you are. Most important perhaps, being street smart comes from experience. It means you’ve learned how to take what has happened to you, good or bad, think about it, and learn to improve from it. The prime distinction between street smarts and book smarts is who is at the center of the knowledge. On the street, it’s you. In a book it’s you trying to absorb someone elses take on the world, and however amazing the writer is, you are at best one degree removed from the actual experience. Street smarts means you’ve put yourself at risk and survived. Or thrived. Or have scars. You’ve been tested and have a bank of courage to depend on when you are tested again. Being street smart can lead to book smarts as the street smart sense what works and what doesn’t, and adapt accordingly. Book smarts, as I’ve framed it, means someone who is good at following the rules. These are people who get straight A’s, sit in the front, and perhaps enjoy crossword puzzles. They like...
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