“When I was at school they asked me what I would be as an adult. And I said, ‘Happy!’ I was told that I didn’t understand the question and I answered that they didn’t understand life”, said once John Lennon. In the light of this reflection, we can not help thinking that perhaps we adults do not understand many things.
Being smart does not mean getting an outstanding grade in math or physics. Neither is enough getting excellent in grammar or remembering all historical dates. This simply means be a diligent student. However, many parents and teachers still believe that intelligence is reduced to the simple logic and rationality, and believe that a child who gets bad grades will not be successful in life, because is not enough intelligent and capable. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb trees, this will pass all his life thinking of being useless.
How did it happen the derailment of intelligence tests?
Everything started way back in 1905, when Alfred Binet created his famous intelligence test. That test would answer to a specific need: the French government wanted to establish compulsory education for children between 6 and 14 years old, but since at that time the levels were rather odd, a test was necessary to evaluate the performance in tasks that required comprehension, arithmetic ability and mastery of the vocabulary.
Binet created a test to differentiate students whose abilities allow them to adapt to the normal school system by those who were in need of a boost. Later, in Britain, the psychologist Cyril Burt introduced the first updates of this test and used them to demonstrate that intelligence was hereditary. In the United States, Lewis Terman made him well so that these tests demonstrate the supremacy of whites and wealthier classes above the rest.
But the idea of Binet was not just this. In fact, this psychologist recognized that his test was not able to evaluate the different types of intelligence, and that he had simply gathered a number of problems and tasks that the children had to solve relatively easy in several academic courses. However, the die was cast.
Henry Goddard, another of the American psychologists promoters of the intelligence tests, used them to support the theory that the rich and successful people biologically inherited intelligence, which was transmitted from generation to generation. So, intelligence has become a factor of exclusion and stigmatization of people.
Unfortunately, even today many professionals and parents still think in these terms. They are all people who believe that intelligence is a fixed capacity that is inherited, and relate only with the ability to solve logical problems. But intelligence is much more than this, and it is essential that all those who have the education of children in their hands know it.
But what is really intelligence?
Being smart is not getting a good grade in math or physics. This simply means to be a diligent student.
In contrast, an intelligent child is the one that is able to find different solutions and select the best alternative to solve a problem. The gifted children are not those that make mathematical calculations faster than others, but those that finds creative solutions to problems of everyday life.
An intelligent child is the one that is fixed in detail, without losing the global perspective. He’s one who always asks questions and wants to go beyond the appearance of things. He’s also one that breaks things to see how they are made, although after is not able to reassemble them.
In fact, the intelligent child is not who’s never wrong, but makes mistakes and learn from them, draws conclusions that will serve him in the future. He’s flexible enough to adapt to changes, even if they are not always positive.
A clever child is not who collects complicated words to amaze everyone, but one that thinks outside the box, with pictures, music or any other means of expressing his ideas.
The intelligent child is not following the rules without making mistakes, but who brings new challenges and is not afraid to leave his comfort zone.
The intelligent child is able to get in the shoes of others, knows how to communicate his emotions and perceive those of the others. He also knows when it’s time tos ay “no”, and assumes responsibility for his actions. This child knows how to listen and is sensitive.
He’s an intelligent child, even if at school does not get the best grades. Because life is the most important school, the most demanding and the most complicated. And to pass its exams are not enough computing power, memory and reading comprehension, but other skills that are not usually taught in schools, such as analytical thinking, flexibility, the ability to adapt to changes and control emotions …
Intelligence is not a vote, is a skill that develops every day and should serve to improve ourselves as individuals and find happiness. Many children have that kind of intelligence, we should not sacrifice it on the altar of logic.