We’re All Nerds

NERDS-NERDS-EVERYWHEREBy Aubrey Murtha – I freaking love learning.

I love it so much that Aidan, my little sister, has recently taken to calling me a “nerd.”

Nerd? What about scholar or researcher?
Why can’t she refer to me as learned?

How about intellectual or maybe even liberal arts enthusiast?

Shoot. Evidently, she is correct. I am a nerd. Not in the cute, quirky sense of the word. I don’t wear glasses or read comic books or parade about in my flashy suspenders showing off my high fashion pocket protector (I promise you that I don’t have one of those).

Contrary to what you may think, I don’t spend entire weekends in the library either. My passion for learning seems to manifest itself in ways that stray from anxiety about grades or excessive hours invested in studying. Instead, I find that when I am really interested in a subject, I think about it all the time.

For example, I am studying modernism in U.S. literature in one of my classes. As I have recently learned, the famous Gertrude Stein once said, “A rose is a rose is a rose.” I have no idea what that even means, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it for a few days.  Her sentences seem so circular and confusing, yet profoundly poetic and deeply philosophical in ways that I could never achieve with my own petty prose. I want to hate her for writing essays and novels that are so incredibly difficult to dissect, yet I cannot help but praise her for it.

It’s a strange paradox, really. I can’t get Gertrude out of my brain. The woman is a genius in her own right. See? Now I am going off about her. Cough, cough, nerd, cough.

Anyway, I think that this nerdy-ness that I am describing is an essential part of being a teacher at the high school or college level. You have to be wickedly passionate about your academic area of expertise. How else is an instructor supposed to drum up enthusiasm from his or her students?

We’ve all had tremendous teachers who lived and breathed their subject. Mine was my A.P. Literature teacher back at DSHA High School.  I remember him telling us that he would spend summer evenings reciting Shakespearean sonnets to “Buddy the Chocolate Lab” on their night time walks together. These are the people that spark your interest in a topic or can engage your imaginations in ways that you never thought possible.

I want to be this sort of person for my students. I guess step one is to embrace my inner nerd. I suppose the first step would be to admit my little problem. So…

Hi everyone. I am Aubrey Murtha, and I am a nerd.

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