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Revisiting Intelligence and Intelligence Testing in an Interdependent World

December 1, 2018

I just finished reading Medium blogger Piyush Kamal’s post titled “Revisiting The Yardstick Of Measuring Intelligence” with a subtitle “…And Why There Should Be An Urgency To Redefine It.” 

After recounting the history of intelligence testing, Mr. Kamal notes that our culture has changed dramatically since the tests were conceived and, consequently, their utility has disappeared. Why? Because IQ tests measure an individual’s ability to think discursively an age when teams are more important than individuals and creativity is more important than what we now define as “intellectual ability”. His perspective his summarized in these paragraphs:

We often forget that IQ tests are just an indicative measure of our ability to think logically about straightforward problems. No doubt that it’s an important part of intelligence, however, IQ tests don’t measure creativity, because creativity isn’t straightforward…

The idea that education should increase intellectual independence is a very narrow view of learning.It ignores the fact that knowledge depends on others…

Learning, therefore, isn’t just about developing new knowledge and skills. It’s also about learning to collaborate with others, recognizing what knowledge we have to offer and what gaps we must rely on others to help us fill.

While all of this is seemingly self evident and not at all debatable, many of our public schools continue to use IQ tests as the primary determinant for identifying students as “gifted and talented” thereby simultaneously identifying a larger group of students as UN-gifted and UN-talented. As Mr. Kamal notes in several examples, it is often the so-called UN-gifted students who thrive outside of school and provide the creative spark needed to advance technologically.

Will Mr. Kamal’s notion that teamwork and creativity are important attributes for students to learn in school? Only when policy makers embrace the ideas of Dewey over those of Terman et al… Only when we refuse to use standardized tests as the primary metric for defining individual and school success… and only when those UN-gifted and UN-talented students raise their collective voices to influence policy makers and “thought leaders”.

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