Special Update: Good luck with SATs, Year Sixers!
One of the most interesting piece of feedback that floated back from the unfortunate Year 8s who had to read my blog for homework was a certain bemusement about the word geek – specifically the cheap and cheerful declaration right at the top that “I’m a happy 16 year old geek”, as if it was some sort of statement.
It’s true that at one point there was certainly a conscious effort to reclaim the word geek, in a similar way to the gay community reclaiming, well, ‘gay’ and ‘queer’ as positive expressions of identity. Today, however, it’s more second nature than anything – driven largely by the IT industry (Microsoft Geek blogger?) where geeks reign supreme. I like to think that the traditional passion for learning has been taken from the stereotype of the past (bullied kid in the playground, loved to look at his shoes because they were easier to talk to than people) and wrapped in a delicious layer of self-confidence, served in a bright and breezy air.
But that raises an interesting question. Do the ‘old style’ geeks – or nerds – of the past still exist? Did they ever exist, or a bit of a myth delivered through the medium of the American Teen Movie (TM) ?
I ask the question partly in reaction against this slightly old BBC News article where teachers decry the culture of cool that supposedly exists in Britain’s classrooms. Woah, ur, culture of cool? “Far too many boys in particular – think it’s cool not to work hard at school”.
Well to the state the blindingly obvious, that’s nothing new. Although somehow I doubt that this group compromises the best and the brightest, just bursting to reveal their thoughts on Shakespeare but held back out of paranoid weakness. The supposed cause, though, of this phenomenon? “Relentless commercial targeting of children”.
Hang on a minute. I am Big Megacorp and I want to sell my Cool New Product X to children. So my grand scheme to shift these widgets off the shelves is… make kids not answer questions in lessons? Eh? How on earth is that supposed to help? Maybe if classrooms featured a little shop at the back, vying for attention, this would make sense, but so far even rampant commercialism hasn’t got that far.
I would argue that the relentless commercial targetters would actually rather prefer a nice class of geeks to sell stuff to. Think about it. On average, we’ll earn more, meaning more returns to whoever bags our brand loyalty in future. Geeks are also forever doing lots and lots of talking – blogging, for example – and we all know that word of mouth is the best marketing any product can have. The early adopters of iPods? Geeks. Those cool kids who are now not listening in class because they’ve got music glued to their ear are way behind the curve. First people to get broadband, now a vital tool in selling to everyone under the sun? Geeks!
Right, now that the length of the post really will have whittled down the geeks from the non-geeks here’s some funky Cult TV news – Christopher Eccleston to play The Prisoner in the new remake. How cool is that? Hopefully this will be just as successful the last, big name sci-fi series Eccleston helped to revive…
And talking of which, I have to say I thought The Girl in the Fireplace was the loveliest, most heartbreakingly wonderful episode of the new series so far. Steven Moffat cements his reputation as the new series’ best writer to me, having penned the two parter last year set in WW2 with the gas masked children. And not to mention he’s wonderfully funny in interviews. “People will complain that Madame du Pompadour’s actions aren’t canonical… everyone knows she never went round kissing aliens…” made me laugh out loud. (Ur, if you’re staring blankly, it’s a dig at a certain set of Doctor Who fans…)
I cried buckets at this weeks episode at the end. Although clearly the entire episode had been inspired by the novel The Time Travellers Wife (something which many people have commented on) – but moving none the less.
On the topic of reclaiming – I think geek has been well and truly reclaimed. It is not unusualy to hear people descibe them selves as such now, as a matter of pride; probably to the extent of replacing the slightly offensive "junkie" as in news junkie has now become "I’m a bit of a news geek". – Ah the joys of the ever evolving language.
I don’t think I can comment on the geek situation in the US because of the school I go to. My opinion is biased because half of the cool kids in my school would probably be geeks in other schools
Of course the traditional class of geek remains. You were fortunate enough to be in the form with the overall smartest students. You were in ‘P’ which must stand for privilege as they always had the best of everything, even having their own room to do exams in whilst other forms used the gym. Also you are older now, and so are all the other students you share your lessons with, most people have grown out of the bullying phase. But I know many ‘Geeks’ who have been given a hard and rough time just because they were smart.
To be honest I dont give a shite but im bored
Not only do the old-time geeks still exist, but we’re reading your blog…