How to Value Individuality and Create an Enstatic School
Chapter 7: Solitude is for Geeks: Science, Technology and Counting Up to One
Solitude is for Geeks:Science, Technology and Counting Up to One
I enjoy it when I am doing a test, it makes you feel happy in your own company which is nice— LYNDA (aged 12–13)
Introduction: No Geek Tragedy
In science and mathematics, along with related subjects such as technology and computing, there is a long tradition that is still just about alive in schools. The tradition is of focused individual work in solitude, in a way that connects children and young people directly to nature, the material world, and absent people. An echo of that tradition is the stereotype of the solitary, often lonely, people attracted to such subjects: ‘geeks’ and ‘nerds’. A ‘geek’ is ‘a person who is knowledgeable and obsessive about computers and related technology’ (SOED 2007), whilst a ‘nerd’ is a more general ‘insignificant … person who is boringly … studious’ (SOED 2007). Why start a chapter on science with such stereotypes? Well, it is because they echo a real tradition that stretches well beyond schooling. There are some equivalent traditions in other subject areas. In the study of literature, people may be described as ‘lost in a book’, religious groups may be seen as providing a home for the lonely, and historians can be accused of living in the past because they cannot cope with the modern world. But in science, the stereotype is particularly worth exploiting, as there emerged in the early 2000s the wonderfully...
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