11/06/08 What is intelligence, anyway?
Many of us can remember having to take the SAT. Since 1934 when James Conant, the president of Harvard at the time began administering the test to scholarship applicants, taking the test has become increasingly standard procedure for a person moving from high school to college. But what does the Scholastic Aptitude Test really measure?
We discussed this question in class and came up with the following: LANGUAGE AND NUMBERS.
Effective? Comprehensive? Fair? We didnâ€™t think so either. All the test tells me is that if I score between a certain range I can balance my checkbook correctly and read a newspaper article really quickly. Lyle Davidson shared that itâ€™s really nothing more than a test to see who will pass their first year of college. I sure wish it had been presented as such instead of a test to see â€œwhoâ€™s smartest.â€ I wouldâ€™ve spent a lot less time worrying.
Unfortunately, because the SAT is still the standard measuring tool we are led to believe that the educators who have the last word must believe that the wisdom of priests and rabbis, the intuition of psychologists and the sheer genius of Mozart are not examples of intelligence.
In the 1980s a man by the name of Howard Gardner came forward with some new ideas on what â€œintelligenceâ€ really is. He presented the concept of â€œMultiple Intelligences,â€ saying that different areas of the brain support different types of expression, cultural differences and necessary awareness. For example, different cultures require individual and acute behavioral skills to survive in a specific location and environment.
We brainstormed what these â€œmultiple intelligencesâ€ might be.
Here is the list we came up with:
- Language and Numbers (not only to be fair, but because they are important, too.)
- Spatial intelligence (2D and 3D awareness)
We decided that the list could be titled â€œSpatial Intelligencesâ€.
As can be expected when you have a group of future educators talking about education there were many unsatisfied voices. Their statements could be passed off as hopeless complaints, but I think that would be a huge mistake. In the simplest of terms, itâ€™s important that more of the focus in education be placed on spatial intelligences. NEC has already made the change to not requiring applicants to submit an SAT score. In my opinion, that was a smart move.
Iâ€™ll leave you with this:
Because we are individuals whose intelligences are clearly made up of more than just languages and numbers, should we not be approached as such by our educators?