Synopses & Reviews
A lively, thought-provoking book that zeros in on the timely issue of how anti-intellectualism is bad for our children and even worse for America.
Why are our children so terrified to be called "nerds"? And what is the cost of this rising tide of anti-intellectualism to both our children and our nation? In Nerds, family psychotherapist and psychology professor David Anderegg examines why science and engineering have become socially poisonous disciplines, why adults wink at the derision of "nerdy" kids, and what we can do to prepare our children to succeed in an increasingly high-tech world.
Nerds takes a measured look at how we think about and why we should rethink "nerds," examining such topics as: - our anxiety about intense interest in things mechanical or technological;
- the pathologizing of "nerdy" behavior with diagnoses such as Asperger syndrome;
- the cycle of anti-nerd prejudice that took place after the Columbine incident;
- why nerds are almost exclusively an American phenomenon;
- the archetypal struggles of nerds and jocks in American popular culture and history;
- the conformity of adolescents and why adolescent stereotypes linger into adulthood long after we should know better; and nerd cultural markers, particularly science fiction.
Using education research, psychological theory, and interviews with nerdy and non-nerdy kids alike, Anderegg argues that we stand in dire need of turning around the big dumb ship of American society to prepare rising generations to compete in the global marketplace.
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"In this intriguing treatise, child therapist and psychology professor Anderegg takes a wry and well-rounded look at the legacy of everyone's (least) favorite schoolyard epithet, getting deep into the history of an idea as well as the nuts and bolts of childhood "stereotype acquisition." Beginning with a "Field Guide to Nerds" ("or Why Nerds are So Gay"), Anderegg considers typical nerd traits (and includes a "Nerd Test" copied from "Deluxe NERD Glasses" package copy), parses out the subtle but important differences between "nerd" (emphasizing appearance) and "geek" (emphasizing intelligence), looks at the cultural history and rising profile of American anti-intellectualism, from Ichabod Crane and Ralph Waldo Emerson to Seinfeld
and Beauty and the Geek
, as well as more recent developments in nerd-related medical diagnoses like autism and Asperger's. Knowledgeable, charming and self-deprecating throughout, Anderegg is at his best when discussing the specific cases of children he's worked with, but readers should be happy to tag along as he occasionally wanders off point (contemplating, say, the Freudian implications of his subject). For educators, therapists and others interested in child psychology, this makes an insightful, if perhaps overstuffed, resource." -- Publishers Weekly
"An enlightening and highly entertaining look at a world that both shuns nerds and desperately needs more of them."
"A spirited and thoughtful introduction to this culture war: the jocks or 'pops' (popular kids) vs. the nerds."
-The Boston Globe
"Anderegg tackles all the big questions: Are geeks different than nerds? Does Bill Gates really have Asperger's syndrome? ...this is a serious book with more science that you might expect."
"Thoughtful and warmly sympathetic."
"Anderegg's clear-eyed look at a damaging cultural truism does nerds and jocks-all Americans, really-a service." (The Washington Post).
Thick glasses, socially awkward, a math whiz with a pocket protector- everyone knows what a nerd is. But where did this stereotype come from? Children aren't born knowing what a "nerd" or "geek" is, so why do they know by the age of five or six that they don't want to be one? In this revised and updated paperback edition of his thought-provoking book, family psychotherapist and psychology professor David Anderegg reveals how the systematic disparagement of "nerds" in our culture is bad for our children and even worse for America. In Nerds, Anderegg examines why science and engineering have become socially poisonous disciplines, why adults wink at the derision of "nerdy" kids, and what the cost of this rising tide of anti- intellectualism is to both our children and our nation. Drawing upon education research, psychological theory, and his own interviews with nerdy and non-nerdy kids alike, Anderegg argues that in order to prepare rising generations to compete in the global marketplace, we need to revisit how we think about "nerds."
About the Author
David Anderegg, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology at Bennington College in Vermont and has maintained a private practice of psychotherapy in Lenox, Massachusetts, for the past seventeen years. Andereggs’ op-eds have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Miami Herald, and Newsday, and he has been quoted as an expert in his field in The New Yorker, USA Weekend, The Wall Street Journal, and Psychology Today, among others. He lives in a small town in Vermont with his wife.