Book Smart vs. Street Smart

Some people constantly think, talk and ask about being either book smart or street smart… Primarily, a partial change in the two previously used expressions should be made, coming up with two different ones: “academic smartness” and “life experience”. That would, on the one hand, soften the “book part” and turn it into a whole combination of educational acquisition, and on the other hand, lift the word “street” to a more decent and proper level.

A simple book smart person can, in some cases, find difficulties using his intelligence on the floor; so when it comes to playing his cards, he might get stuck and face his so-called opposite: the street smart. In contrast, a simple street smart person would probably find himself trapped among billions of other people possessing degrees, enlarging their culture and promoting themselves on the social level. This is when the great distinction should take place.

In nowadays world, book smarts have the “visa” to the highly regarded and admired positions. But if they’re not as street smart as their task requires them to be, this dream won’t last for long; they’ll finally wake up and face what life really is. This leads us to assume that street smarts - normally - don’t have this social “visa” within their hands, but within their minds. More to the point, book smarts can hardly possess the street smartness and vice versa. But great is the person who succeeds to combine these two qualities because they’re complements and not substitutes. It’s more than important to know that what truly discerns people has less to do with their “literal intelligence” and more to do with their ability to manage, handle and make the best out of it.

Finally, unwise is the one who believes to be perfectly merging the two intelligences, but foolish enough is the one who pretends to be the both, while he never proved anything.


Paul M. Klimos