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JD’S TAKE: What is human intelligence?

July 17, 2017

Intelligence is the abstract ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. Despite the esoteric and complex nature of the human intellect, most of the population believes that a human’s intelligence can be boiled down to one number: an IQ score. If you score above 120, you are considered “gifted”. If you score around 100, you are “average”. If you score below 80, you are labeled as “cognitively impaired”.

It’s almost terrifying to think that a person can be given a negative label based on how he or she performs on a 90-minute test. The truth is that IQ tests are antiquated. In 1983, a psychologist by the name of Howard Gardner realized how useless IQ tests were and elected to change the game.

Gardner appreciated how complex a human’s intelligence is. Instead of assessing it with a series of logic puzzles and vocabulary words, Gardner differentiated “general” intelligence into eight different intelligences: visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, musical-rhythmic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic.

The fundamental concept behind the theory of multiple intelligences is that every human being has a unique genius. Even though this idea is well established in the scientific community, educators seem to be slow to catch on. Students will often be labeled as “intellectually slow” by teachers before they have the chance to explore their aptitude in all of Gardner’s intelligences.

With that having been said, it’s hard to blame teachers for this shortcoming. Teachers must teach at least twenty kids at a given time, which makes it impossible to give their students the true customization that each individual student requires.

If your child is having difficulties in school, it is likely because he or she is not suited for traditional teaching methods. Your child may need to implement different strategies that best suit his or her strengths.

We are all brilliant in our own way – we just need the opportunity to explore how.


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