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Why the way we measure intelligence is wrong.  

I wanted to start off by saying that I am not a low achiever. I’ve seen some similar posts about the educational system that go on about how awful it all is and unfair and all that happened was a kid didn’t do too great at school and that’s fine.  But that’s not really what I’m here to talk about.

I want to talk about the way we measure and validate intelligence and the importance of recognising it outside of an educational environment.

I want to start of by complimenting you as you are reading this, because my dear YOU are intelligent.

Now, if you are one of those high achieving kids that always gets great results, or if you are reading this with your PhD or MA or what ever qualification like ‘yeh duh’ I urge you to keep reading.

Equally if you are sat there thinking ‘No I’m not, I never went to uni, I never got ‘x’ qualification, I was never very good at this’ then stop thinking and keep reading.

Because I’m about to tell you something ground breaking… Okay it’s perhaps not that ground breaking but I feel like it’s something people need to hear.

Your intelligence cannot be measured by your ability to complete a test and adhere to academic standards. Someone can’t hand you it on a piece of paper, even if it were covered in a galaxy’s worth of gold stars. Intelligence isn’t measurable.

Sure you can measure skill level, memory capacity, even problem solving to an extent. But you can’t MEASURE intelligence.

For one it’s an abstract concept. Which I wont get into too much because I’ll just bore your brains out, but it basically means that it’s not something physical. It’s not something you can see or feel or detect with any of your senses. It’s not something you can count or question or MEASURE.

But coming away from that, and looking at our currently methods for measuring what we determined as intelligence. We tend to value those subjects that are deemed academic more so than those which might be deemed skill based, physical, creative, etc. Because the way we measure intelligence is based almost completely around our ability to memorise information for the purpose of regurgitating it onto a piece of paper at the end of the year.

I’m not saying that your ability to memorise things isn’t a great trait, or that you extensive knowledge on biology or mathmatics isn’t a sign of your intelligence. It might well be! But the way we choose to determined the difference between a child that is intelligent or bright and those who are considered not is essentially flawed because we fail to value intelligence in all its forms.

Taking for example a field that is close to my heart, creativity. The creative field is often shamed and looked down upon by those in the scientific or ‘more academic fields’ for being pointless, without worth and its participants less intelligent than those who are completing degrees in science, mathmatics, history, etc.

But let’s just take a moment to consider the fact that there is a distinct possibility that there is more than one form of intelligence and that this might mean that you can be both utterly hopeless at one subject and totally amazing at another.

Intelligence like with most things, is a spectrum, or rather a series of spectrums. Assuming firstly that we all sit on all of these spectrums. We can then assume that like with all things we may not rank highly in all. We may be 3/10 for science but maybe we are 9/10 for art or social skills, or sports, or chess, or anything! Not just the things we teach in school or the things we deem worthy of consideration.

The fact that you are a human being with a brain and the ability to learn and change and grow means that you sit in all of these spectrums. Even if you wouldn’t consider yourself as ranking highly on all of them that doesn’t mean you are unintelligent because you are here and you are able to grow and learn and achieve if you want to achieve.

Intelligence isn’t measurable because it doesn’t exist. It’s simply a ranking system imposed on us in order to create a system to divide the population into measurable sets of standards.


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