The Curse of Brains

| Tuesday, June 8
I never knew being "too smart" was actually a downfall in the world of employment, especially when it comes to molding the minds of the future. Now, I know that places like McD's don't want to hire people with a lot of higher education, because those people are generally way over-qualified for minimum wage jobs and would leave as soon as something better came along. But apparently my nerdiness has become my biggest impediment in getting the job I truly want.

I really, truly want to teach somewhere between the ages of 6 and 9. That's grades 1-3 in the US. Those are the ages when you see so much potential and growth in kids. It's the time when they're still relatively innocent and have a thirst for knowledge. It's when kids ask a million and one questions and expect you to answer all of them. Kids at that age haven't developed any horrible adolescent attitude problems yet. They think the teacher is an immortal being of great knowledge and power. Basically, they haven't begun to suck as humans at this point. 
Sadly, though, I've basically found out that the reason I've not gotten the jobs I've been interviewing for (my in-laws are both administrators in the school district and get inside knowledge) is that other principals think that "with my great content knowledge," also known as I actually have a fully-functional nerd-brain, I am too smart to teach primary grades. WTF, people?! This makes me wonder what the IQ of the average 1st grade teacher is around here. From my experience, teaching those grades are not intellectually taxing, but they require miles more creativity than teaching 6th grade does. To me, that means just as much brain as any other grade! They all think I'd be a wonderful, great, stupendous, *insert other superlative here* teacher in 4th or 5th grade where they want people who actually know the content of science and social studies, but knowing that stuff isn't important in a classroom full of 7 year-olds who ask questions all the time about the world around them... 
Whatever. If that's the way they feel about it, then I should look at it as they're losing out, not me. On the plus side, it's now looking like I'll be shifting into a mostly science-teaching position in 6th grade if I stay at the middle school next year. Now that's something I can get excited about.  


Ambiguous Geek said...

Bah. I can't stand when that happens. It's almost like being smart becomes a bad thing, and your education climbs into the level of a waste of time.

It seems like it's always a catch 22 when it comes to your education and the workforce. I wonder if they do that to us on purpose?

Melissa said...

I totally understand. I'm sorry about your frustration but glad you get to TRY SCIENCE. Also, Dr. Sheldon Cooper is my fave!

TabithaVenasse said...

I remember when I was told that I was too smart to get a job at McDonalds... and Starbucks... and every store in the Eaton Centre. Yup. I felt dumb, despite the fact they were insinuating my intelligence was far above theirs. It angered me because I was in desperate need of a job, and frankly, being in College, I would have happily stuck those jobs out for at least a few years.

Stephany said...

I interned in a first-grade class for a semester. And I can't believe the work and dedication one has to put in for this grade! I mean, every grade requires work/dedication but you really have to be creative and SMART to teach kids to read, write sentences, and do math. The kids grow SO MUCH during the primary grades, moreso than any other grade level, I think.

It sucks that you can't teach the grades you want to teach because you're "too smart." I think that's just dumb. I hope you one day get to teach the grades you want.

Annabelle said...

'd think that teaching younger grades would require a lot more social/emotional intelligence, knowledge of developmental psychology, etc. Not things that are easy to come by.

I think in this economy people are scared of over-qualified workers, particularly as things start to bounce back... It's exactly what you said, that they're expecting you to leave at the drop of a hat. I guess you can only do what you've BEEN doing, which is to prove that your heart is really in it. Good luck!

Neurotic Workaholic said...

Like you said, you'd think the administrators would want someone with a lot of higher education, because it would definitely be an asset to have that when working with kids at that age. And it is interesting how you described how their attitudes towards school is different, because that would definitely be a different experience from working with 6th graders.

Emily Jane said...

I saw that science shirt on ThinkGeek last week and it's TOTALLY going on my birthday list!! I get so frustrated when being "too educated" is a bad thing. Right now at work we are hiring for a receptionist and there's a girl that applied who I went to school with years ago, who I know would be PERFECT - and she has way more experience than just reception, but has AMAZING skills and just wants to work somewhere she can move up and at an organization that helps the community. But she's "too educated" and I had to basically BEG them to give her an interview because half the interviewing staff didn't want to touch her. :(

Erin said...

I'm working on getting my teaching certificate as we speak, and am planning on teaching elementary, though I haven't decided what grade yet. I hope I don't run into the problems you're having, especially since I started out intending to teach high school!

(All of the sudden my OpenID credentials cannot be verified for some reason, so if you'd like to visit my blog, it's at

Eleni said...

What stupid principals (with such poor teaching principles). You sound very much like my mom who used to teach elementary school (3rd and then 1st grade)--she loved the kids in the younger grades. She especially liked first grade because that's when they really learn to read, and she found it just so amazing to watch that development. And yes, even first graders can ask challenging questions--my mom's students once asked her why WWII started.

Even though the usual subject matter in grades 1-3 is easier than that in middle school, having good, smart teachers for the younger grades is crucial for building a strong foundation of learning for the kids (did that sound too cheesy?). Something's not right in your school system. My mom was a smart Ivy League grad with a masters in education, and they were happy to have her in first grade. Maybe some time you'll be in a position where you can make them give you a job in grades 1-3 by having an option outside the school system, where either they give you the grade you want or you leave for the neighboring town.

One last note: First graders are not all perfectly innocent. There was one six-year-old in my mom's class who could lie with a straight face, and he'd steal other kids' stuff and put it in his underwear where he knew the teacher couldn't get it. And another kid who was always saying things to make other kids cry when the teacher wasn't looking. But still, I would rather deal with that than the bad kids in middle school.

Angela said...

Urgh, that does suck. I've never gotten that, being "too smart" for a job. I mean, really, how is that even possible?! I can definitely say that I wish some companies would hire people who are "too smart" so I wouldn't have to put up with dumbasses!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, getting pigeon-holed like that sucks! I'm kind of worried that I might get passed over for "normal" teaching jobs (aka not with high needs, at-risk kids) because of my motto is that if I can teach in a jail, I can teach anywhere! I just hope that people doing the hiring feel the same way!

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