Children with high learning potential can find themselves the targets of bullying; taunted with names like “nerd”, “geek” or “weirdo”. In December, psychology lecturer Dr. Sonja Falck, made the controversial suggestion that calling someone a nerd or a geek should be considered a hate crime. She talked about people with a high IQ being part of a minority group who are often ignored or bullied by people who used terms like nerd, geek, egghead or brainiac. Dr. Falck felt that use of these terms should be considered a hate crime.
Potential Plus UK’s Ambassador Bobby Seagull weighed into the debate in a segment on Good Morning Britain, “Obviously you shouldn’t bully somebody because they’re different, but the reality is if we’re classing it as a hate crime to call someone a nerd or a geek, I think what it does is it trivialises actual hate crimes based on disability, race, gender.” (Bobby Seagull)
The guests and presenters discussed how name calling can be devastating for many high potential children; how even adults aren’t always equipped to deal with it and, about how “being different” through a love of academic subjects can leave you an outsider at school. Bobby then made the point that any term – such as “footballer” (football is a passion of his) – can be used to denigrate someone if used with intent to hurt. He also discussed being an ambassador for Potential Plus UK and how many people now embrace terms like “nerd” or “geek”.
Potential Plus UK has run a search on the term geek in our Facebook group, Parenting High Potential, and it is obvious that most of our families agree with Bobby about the idea of embracing these terms. They feel that, if children are properly supported, then it can help them to discover an identity that they are happy with and a tribe to which they can belong. They consider being a geek to be “cool”; even sometimes referring to themselves online as geeks or discussing affectionately their own geek (child or partner!).
The loveliest response reported about the term geek appeared in a conversation between siblings:
Sister Aged 9: I’m not one of the cool girls, the cool girls think I am lame.
Brother Aged 12: Don’t worry I’m not a cool boy but later on we will be considered Uber cool, because we are geeks and when you’re at university being a geek is the coolest thing you can be.
Bobby is also happy to call himself a geek. In fact, he feels so passionately about this, that since the programme he has changed his twitter handle to Bobby “proud geek” Seagull!
The whole Good Morning Britain segment on this debate can be viewed at: https://youtu.be/bErlrHGUc9g If you have helped a child embrace their “geekness” – do you have any tips to share with us? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org