There’s a great anecdote one often hears from professional dancers: As a kid, I could never sit still, they’ll say. My teacher wanted to put me on Ritalin, but my parents put me in dance class.
I think we ought to tell a similar story for a different kind of troubled adolescent, the kind more burdened by angst than by ADD. You know the type: sullen, apathetic, bored. Perhaps she’s dressed all in black. Perhaps he’s failing geometry. This child’s teacher wants to put the rebel in detention. I say, Put the kid in physics class.
Despite the stereotype of the lovable nerd being embraced by popular culture in TV shows like The Big Bang Theory and on T-shirts like “Talk nerdy to me,” the truth is that physics is the rebel’s subject. It’s for those who reject all authority, even that of our most basic assumptions, those who know in their bones that the world is not what it seems and who refuse to take the common, easy route of living unquestioningly on the surface.