The Culture of Dumb

Daily Prompt: (Your thing) for Dummies


I would never label anyone as dumb or a dummy. The term is abusive. The very idea of it makes my head spin.

As a certified Equine Canada coach (Level 1), Bronze certified trainer in the natural horsemanship methods of Chris Irwin, and a recent practitioner of Facilitated Equine Experiential Learning there’s one thing I know for sure ~ treating students as reasonably intelligent beings (or at least giving them the benefit of the doubt) and then being flexible enough to teach each one in a way that gives them the best opportunity to learn is, in my opinion, the best way to go.

Why am I so hung up about the culture of dumb?

My late maternal grandfather was a troubled soul and terrible misogynist. He also had a propensity for declaring that all women are dumb, and reminded my grandmother, my mother and, by extension (though I saw him maybe five times in my entire life) me, of this fact on a regular basis.

Naturally this became a canker in the family psyche and the source of much unhappiness and ruinous despair.

My granny, a petite and demure (but feisty) woman of Scottish heritage and from a good family, struggled under his awful tyranny for 27 years. Just before she left him (in 1961 at age 45) she took a beauty course. Grandpa let her because, he reasoned, it would mean that he, a labourer who never held down a job for very long, wouldn’t have to work so hard if she had a steady income.

After graduation granny escaped with her life (she needed police protection for a while), moving back to Alberta and setting up shop in the area where she was raised after her family emigrated from Scotland. Over time she recovered enough from the abuse to be able to build a thriving beauty business. At age 78 she died with a nicer paid-for home, a newer paid-for car and more money in her bank account than my pitiful grandfather was ever able to accumulate.

He died a pauper in northern Montana.

As for his daughter, my mother, despite impossible odds she somehow managed to turn her passion for singing into an international operatic career. A miracle of achievement if ever there was one. Few are aware of the uphill battle she fought to reach the heights of her career with the “culture of dumb” resonating so cruelly in the background.

I admire both of these strong women and the example they have set as I engage in my own mid-life wrestling match with the familial culture of dumb.

So, don’t ask me to educate anyone as if they’re a dummy. I will find a way to teach a person what they need to know in the way they need to learn, and know, it.

In the words of Forrest Gump … “That’s all I have to say about that.”

Thanks for visiting,


©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015

9 thoughts on “The Culture of Dumb

  1. You have an amazing “strong, smart women” heritage. I agree, I’m not comfortable with today’s title, either, but don’t have the background you do that makes it completely objectionable. It’s still not pretty, though, and I’m glad you spoke up.

  2. A tribute to strength and intelligence. We focus much too often on academic intelligence instead of emotional intelligence. The latter serves a higher purpose for making us all successful human beings and also serves as the means to pursue and achieve in our life’s passion. Sounds like you inherited both from your grandmother and mother!

    1. Thank you. … My academic intelligence was overwhelmed by the emotional challenges of my youth. Was smart enough but just could not find the focus to apply it. The culture of dumb looming in the background did not help. Therapy put me on the right track and helped me to see myself more clearly. Now it’s time to take what I’ve learned and move boldly into the future. 😊

      1. I’m right with you! My childhood was one where all of my intelligences were encouraged. Sadly, during the course of my long first marriage, it was psychologically beaten out of me. Between good therapy and the ending of the union, I am also on the right track. I feel smarter everyday! 🙂

  3. Entirely understand your battle. Congratulations on the completion of your FEEL certification. We look at ourselves in a shattered mirror. Looking in at you I’m peering through clear glass so the perspective is different. You’re rocking it, my friend … you will get there, the pieces will come together. Hugs. 🙂

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