“I firmly believe that we can recognize and value every kind of mind without diminishing the value of others.”
~ Scott Barry Kaufman
Intelligence is not just an IQ score
I sat down to write this article on Teacher’s Day. For me, it is actually a day to celebrate each student, who is unique and intelligent. Sadly, common thinking does not regard each one as unique or intelligent, and focuses only on getting everyone to be the same, and then applauding those who are academically bright. And if someone does not improve (read: get better marks) them, we further label them and push them to the sidelines — Yeh kuch nahi banega/banegi… not a doctor, not an engineer. Sigh! But not true.
We all want to be considered smart; we all want to be smart. Terence Tao is the most intelligent guy in the world. He has an Intelligence Quotient (IQ) of 230! Ummm… what does that mean? Well, Terence is a prodigy, that is, he is gifted with an unusually high intelligence, which is rare.
Terence’s intelligence has been measured by an IQ test, which seeks to measure a person’s problem-solving and reasoning abilities.The IQ test largely focuses on our cognitive or mental ability, in other words, for those who are “good with words and logic”, the typical IQ test works well. To be considered as someone with high intelligence, one generally has to have a score of 160 or above. Everyone is not Terence, obviously, but that does not mean that those who do not score more than 160 on the IQ test are not intelligent. The reality is that everyone is intelligent!
What is intelligence?
But, what really is intelligence? A dictionary definition will say that it is “the capacity to acquire and apply knowledge.” According to another source, “Intelligence includes the ability to benefit from past experience, act purposefully, solve problems, and adapt to new situations.” If that is the definition of intelligence, then all of us are undoubtedly intelligent. We are all capable of learning. We are capable of responding to a situation that we come face to face with. We are all capable of being creative.
Richard Nesbit, professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, says, “An IQ score doesn’t measure your practical intelligence,” by which he refers to “knowing how to make things work.” He further says, “It doesn’t measure your creativity. It doesn’t measure your curiosity.” Neither does the IQ test measure a person’s emotional readiness. And these are all important aspects of our personalities and lives.
Intelligence is of different kinds
It was Howard Gardner, a professor of education at Harvard University, who took a broader view of intelligence and said that it is not just confined to the mental domain. He indicated that intelligence is of nine different kinds, as shown below:
While our education system largely emphasizes logical-mathematical and linguistic intelligences through the curriculum, we also have opportunities to develop the other aspects of ourselves. Some of us are good at art, while others are good at music or dance and others love nature. Some get on well with others, while others are quiet. Yet, each one of us does not fall into one single category, but has some of all these aspects within us. It takes all kinds and all combinations to make the world.
Nasreen Hashambhoy is a Counsellor, Life Coach and a Facilitator of training programmes for schools and corporates. Through a combination of coaching, counselling and facilitation techniques based on cognitive science and positive psychology, she helps clients achieve their true potential. She is the author of the series Values In Action published by Better Yourself Books.