Intelligence is thought by many people to be a fixed number that tells how smart a person is or is not. However, that thought is wrong in two ways: it is not a fixed number, and it measures how well a person will do in school. It is used as a predictor of possible success. It can enlighten us as to how a person thinks, recalls information, and solves problems.
My first experience with IQ tests was when I was in the fifth grade and was tested for placement in the first gifted program in the St. Louis schools. I was shocked when I was selected for the program. Neither of my parents had a high school education. Yet, my teachers saw possibility in me as I did my schoolwork and recommended me for the testing. I, too, used such testing to identify many students in my classes during my teaching career. They are reliable if one uses them correctly.
It wasn’t long into my career that I realized that IQ tests showed us a big discrepancy. My psychometrist and I noted that children who were being recommended for placement in a Special Education program scored much higher on performance IQ than those tested for gifted placement. The more we thought about it, the more clearly it appeared that part of that difference might be caused by the way educators teach these children. If a child is academically a quick learner, we place him in more rigorous book-driven education. However, if he is not academically inclined, we place him in hands-on learning experiences. We play games and find exciting ways and means of helping him to succeed. Thus, he performed much better on performance IQ tasks than those who were entrenched in book-heavy curriculum.
In a way, we had stunted the IQ of those verbal students by not exposing them to the fun and games. Yet, most of the parents of the gifted students pointed out that their child’s ability to assemble puzzles at an early age made them aware of his advanced mental abilities in the first place.
Thus, you can now better understand why my corporation, A.B.R.A.I.N. (Applied Brain Research Alters Instructional Needs), was created in the first place. It has been my mission to change the way we teach children in school. Educators have argued over and over about methods which come and go; however, if we just apply the information we have learned in the past thirty years about how the human brain works, students will benefit. My career has been based upon believing this possibility, and I have not been disappointed.
I do find myself wondering now about the use of the bell curve in setting percentiles. In this modern day, we are seeing the emergence of the “J-curve” rather than the norm curve. Everything seems to be on a fast track. Much of this change is due to the ability of technology to process at ever-increasing speeds. We talk about a change in the thinking skills of children today. Is it true? Has the expectation of testing and finding a norm in the bell shape become an anomaly? I don’t have the answer, but minds are sure working and processing in different ways than it seemed in the past.
Oh well, enough of my musings. Let me say this: IQ is not fixed! Don’t ever sell yourself or your child short by limiting possibility based upon one score!