The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Being Outed as a Geek

I am a geek. And I am proud of it. My geekiness has seen many shifts over the years, but it has always been there. When I was in fourth grade, my best friend and I took ownership of an insult hurled at us by unkind classmates and started a club called the Super Nerds. There were four or five of us in it, and we didn’t really do much other than work on building a fort in my best friend’s back yard–a fort that was ever being built but never finished.

As I got older, I continued to embrace my geekiness and nerdhood but eventually shifted from calling myself a nerd to calling myself a geek. Several months ago, I read an article about a recently-crowned Miss America winner who started a firestorm of controversy by calling herself a history geek. Folks who were more of the stereotypical geek-set were full of nerd-rage at such a declaration. After all, how could a woman who was considered to be the epitome of beauty and grace have the gall to call herself a geek? Isn’t geekiness about wearing thick glasses, snorting when you laugh, and being interested in computers and role-playing games?

No, it isn’t. A good internet friend of mine, who I hope to meet someday, runs a blog dedicated to “Geekery, Girliness, and Goofing Off.” (The blog is called EPBOT and is linked on the side of my blog.) While I am decidedly not a girl, I love Jen’s blog anyway, and I love the wide variety of geekery she discusses and shares. I don’t remember if it was through her or someone else that I discovered this fabulous poster:

Scott Johnson has captured it perfectly. It isn’t a question of whether or not you are a geek. It is a question of what kind of geek you are. I tend to consider myself a book geek, but I am also a sci-fi geek, and many other kinds of geek. (For those who are friends with me on Facebook, you probably recognise the above image–it is my profile page banner image.) If you visit Scott’s flickr page, you can see a much higher resolution version of this image, as well as individual images for each of the fifty-six geeks. Someday I will have the official poster version of this picture hanging in my classroom.

I’ve talked about my geekiness with my class from time to time, but today I was officially outed. For the past several weeks, I have been using a particular playlist on my Google Play account to provide a light instrumental music background while students work on independent literacy tasks. I had not told anyone in the class what they were actually listening to, though, until today, when this song came on:

As it began, four of the boys in my class looked up all at once with a look of recognition and then one of them came to me and said, “Mr. Valencic! I know this song! It is the theme from Doctor Who!” Being the sci-fi geek that I am, I clarified that it is not actually the them but rather the Eleventh Doctor’s theme. (But even that is not quite accurate, as he has multiple themes.) The boys all excited began to tell me how much they enjoy watching the show “whenever they can” and so I asked them how they felt about Matt Smith. None of them seemed particularly keen on him, and were happy when I told them that David Tennant, the Tenth Doctor, is my favourite. I showed them the lock screen image on my phone, which is the Tenth Doctor with Rose Tyler, and then I showed them my phone’s wallpaper, which they quickly identified as the inside of the TARDIS. They all thought it was quite funny when I explained that, after all, my phone is bigger on the inside. (Thank you, Matt Mira at Nerdist, for the idea!)

Later in the day, the topic of geekiness arose, and I reminded the students that the reason I wanted to teach fourth grade is because fourth graders are weird and geeky and awesome. I don’t think everyone believes me, but I do hope that those who do will hold that thought dear as they navigate a world that will, from time to time, try to make them feel like their interests and geekiness is a bad thing. Besides, we all know that the geek shall inherit the earth!

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