There are many different kinds of smarts. Some people are good at art. Some people are physically brilliant (aka athletes).
I am a very intelligent person. Not to brag. Seriously. I think well. I am very good at reasoning. Figuring things out. That is how I am smart. It has served me well, first in school and now in the real world.
I am not, however, a good memorizer. At. All. I don’t remember facts.
Little things. Like, you know, names. Pssssssh, details.
Or dates. Or titles. Or trivia. Or countries. Or states.
Or math facts.
Even at my engineering job, basic, rote calculations that we did all the time I often didn’t remember. Others would go, oh, it’s another x problem, and just do it. I would go, oh, it’s another x problem, flip to the right spot in the book, and then just do it. It sometimes annoyed my superiors because pages of basic calculations took longer than they maybe should have, because I’d have to look steps up instead of having them memorized. But on the other hand, give me something new I’d never seen, and I’d pick it up much faster than normal.
But yeah, those math facts? Equations? Processes? Definitely don’t necessarily stay right at the front of my brain. Unless I’ve done them, by hand, a lot.
I was reminded of this today at work. I was doing homework help at the tutoring center, bouncing between three girls at vastly different levels of math.
The lowest one I was fine with. Basic algebra. I love algebra. I do it for fun. It’s all figuring stuff out.
The second one was doing something I had never seen. To a tutor who works on memorization of math facts, that would have been deadly. If they couldn’t recall it (because they’d never seen it), the wouldn’t have had much recourse except to try to teach themself the technique, which could have been a slow process. I, however, just grabbed the students’ book, flipped back, and less than a minute later returned it to her knowing how to do her homework well enough to explain different problems in detail. For that kind of student, my kind of thinking is great.
The third one was preparing for an IB test. Which means a large chunk of fairly advanced math. We were doing complex probabilities, statistics, differential calculus, integral calculus, and a bunch of other stuff I can’t even remember.
And every question was on a different topic.
Most of the topics I couldn’t just pull up the answer. Some of them I hadn’t seen in 6 years. Even those I’d seen more recently….I just don’t memorize that stuff. I look it up quickly and I’m good to go.
But when every 5 minutes it’s a new problem in a new branch of mathematics…well…that minute to look it up and refresh how to do it sure adds up.
I may be smart in my own way. But I’ll admit that today I was a wee bit jealous of people would can just remember their shit!