Our friends recently met their 15-year-old daughter’s teacher at the semi-annual parent-teacher conference. The daughter attends a religious Zionist girls’ high school, whose matriculation scores regularly rank it among the top three schools in the country.
The teacher told them, “Your daughter is smart, but you don’t have to worry. She’s not so smart that she’ll have a problem getting a shidduch.”
This is wrong on so many levels. The teacher is employed by a school, yet she places a low value on women’s intelligence, and by extension, education for girls. She assumes that most men feel the same way. And my friends are not looking for a son-in-law for their ninth-grader.
The teacher’s statement reflects another common attitude toward intelligence that has nothing to do with sexism: It’s just not good for children to be too smart. So when coming across a highly intelligent child some people feel they must minimize that trait, or make a comment about the child’s social skills. It’s as if they hope to prevent the negative consequences of being so smart, which include not finding anyone to marry and becoming a maladjusted adult.