Helping Gifted Teens Cope with Anti-Intellectualism

gtchat 03142017 AntiIntellectual


The teen years are hard … for everyone. It’s difficult to be a teen, but it’s also hard to parent and teach teens. When we consider bright, articulate, smart teens who have a passion for learning, we up the ante significantly. Having to deal with the effects of anti-intellectualism in of all places -school – can be devastating for many. It begins with name-calling and exclusion from social groups, but can escalate to more troubling actions.

What exactly is anti-intellectualism? Simply put, anti-intellectualism is hostility towards and mistrust of intellect, intellectuals and intellectual pursuits. (Wikipedia) It is the derision of education, philosophy, literature, art and science as impractical and contemptible.

Teens are particularly susceptible to the effects of anti-intellectualism. Peer groups are extremely important during these years and teens don’t want to be seen as geeks and nerds. Gifted teens don’t want to be stereotyped as intellectual and feel they’ll be unpopular and bullied. Many of them see athletes, artists, musicians favored by society and want to ‘fit in’.

gtchat 03142017 Tocqueville

Image courtesy of Ashwani Garg, MD via Twitter

 Anti-intellectualism can manifest in schools in many different ways such as placing sports above academics. It can lead to ridicule and bullying of gifted students and especially twice exceptional kids. The rise of high school dropout rates is one indicator of the increase in anti-intellectualism.

There are some coping strategies which gifted teens can use to combat anti-intellectualism. Gifted teens need to develop self-awareness about the nature of their own intellect; choose a personal path forward. Confronting anti-intellectualism can only succeed when done in a positive manner. At some point, teens need to understand the roots of anti-intellectualism; why others feel this way.

How can parents and teachers help gifted teens deal with anti-intellectualism? They need to mentor GT teens by providing them information on the causes of anti-intellectualism. Also, they can serve as role-models for gifted teens; responding to anti-intellectualism appropriately as well as inform GT students about ways to self-advocate in the face of anti-intellectualism.

The consequences of anti-intellectualism for the future of our society may be severe. Anti-intellectualism at its very root rejects critical thinking and is against anything considered elite. The very ideas that move a society forward are now suspect; we come to hate the things that could save us. Anti-intellectualism brings with it higher crime rates and incarcerations; lower literacy rates; less social mobility.

It’s important not to trivialize the signs of anti-intellectualism if we are to continue moving forward as a civilization. As parents and teachers, we must understand the effects it has on our brightest students and work to support them in their endeavors. The transcript of this chat may be found at our Storify page.


Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at 13.00 NZST/11.00 AEST/Midnight UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered        by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at:



Making It Safe to Be Smart

Anti-Intellectualism and the “Dumbing Down” of America

Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (1966) (Amazon)

The Age of American Unreason (Amazon)

Anti-intellectualism Is Killing America

The Cult of Ignorance in the US: Anti-Intellectualism & the Dumbing Down of America 

American Idyll: Academic Antielitism as Cultural Critique (Amazon)

Why Do US High Schools Typically have an Anti-Intellectual Atmosphere?

Education’s Anti-Intellectual Problem (pdf)

Anti-intellectualism in Schooling

Review of: Anti-Intellectualism in American Life

Dumbing Down America: The War on Our Nation’s Brightest Young Minds (Amazon)

Is the US Education Bar Set Too Low For All Kids?

Lisa (Simpson) and American Anti-intellectualism (pdf)

Christchurch has Ingrained Anti-Intellectualism & Fear of Innovation & the Unknown

Discrimination against Excellence

Anti-Intellectualism in Education (1955 Preview Only)

Sprite’s Site: Dystopia

Photo courtesy of Pixabay  CC0 Public Domain

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.


Posted on March 16, 2017, in Critical Thinking, Education, gifted and talented, gifted education, parenting, Teens and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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