Note: This is not meant to be so much a rant as a criticism of modern educational institutions, though the title rings true. When I see someone calling themselves an honors student or saying they’re in all honors classes, I usually understand it to be an ego boost or an exercise in elitism, although a few times I’ve seen it used as a way of telling people “I’m not an idiot” which I’ll expand upon in this article.
Modern schools are a poor way of judging intelligence. As Sir Ken Robinson states numerous times, every system of public education came into being to meet the needs of industrialism. Schools were created to find very specific attributes in people. While these attributes aren’t completely obsolete today, they’re becoming less relevant as the world changes.
Attaining high grades mean you have those very specific attributes that were so important in the early 1900’s, but are not as important today. Things like punctuality and critical thinking skills are important, but many education systems, especially public ones, don’t effectively teach the skills that are most necessary today.
Intelligence, which is traditionally associated with good grades, is too broad a term to be associated just with a system of education. Some people are intelligent artists, painting landscapes or portraits that evoke an emotion in their viewer. Some people are intelligent musicians, able to produce hit after hit. Some people are intelligent mathematicians, and can construct proofs with ease. “Intelligence” should refer to the specific talents of people, and not just the skills education deems important.
My former math teacher told our class a really interesting story about a kid who was one of the most brilliant mathematicians that the teacher had ever seen. He was a very average student, but was really interested in math. He formed complex formulas on his own without any outside influences that had to have taken a very sharp eye for math. Eventually he went on to get a Ph. D. in mathematics. So despite his brilliance, he was only an average student, probably not making many honors lists in his time.
Peoples’ skills are too immensely diverse to evaluate by modern school systems, where only some specific skills are rewarded while other “useless” skills go unnoticed or, worse, actively put down.
Plus, I really could care less if you’re an honors student if you’re a genuinely interesting person or can make me laugh my ass off.
So congratulations, honors student, you have excelled in a specific institution that lends itself to quantitative analysis more so than other institutions and just so happens to be compulsory. If you want to show me you're not an idiot, I'd suggest another route.