How can smart people be so stupid?

This question has the topic of conversation this week in CEP 812. As we read Dr. James Gee’s book, The Anti-Education Era, we examined reasons humans are so terrible at solving complex problems of our time. There are so many things that contribute to why humans are so stupid. We don’t understand the limitations of our own memory, we fall into pitfalls of status and solidarity, and our institutions are frozen in thought just to name a few.  The following essay is my response to Gee’s arguments and why I believe humans are struggle so much at solving complex problems.

How can smart people be so stupid?


2 thoughts on “How can smart people be so stupid?

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Sheila! I love that you begin by reminding readers when we have acted in smart or innovative ways–framing the discussion in this way helps us realize the contrast between solving complex problems creatively and relying on our memory to answer questions for us. I also enjoyed your expansion on Gee’s thoughts on memory–this is something so crucial in education. Too often we teach students to memorize concepts and then regurgitate that information, rather than teaching students how to think and work in a creative or innovative manner. I wholeheartedly agree with your analysis as it relates to a classroom setting.


  2. I also connected with your example of memorizing math concepts. I have had students in the past that were very successful with their rote procedural knowledge of math, but when it came to a conceptual understanding they could not explain their problem solving. I think there is a place for memorization in math but the project based problem solving you describe is much more authentic and provides the sense of purpose and meaning that Gee describes as necessary for us to be smart. It also helps students be more adaptable in applying information to new problems. I enjoyed reading your response to Gee.


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