Is IQ Overrated? A time to rethink the definition of Intelligence

The word intelligence is most often related to images of math and science or IQ tests and complicated algorithms. We usually recognize on one kind of smart while devaluing other types of intelligence, whereas in reality no one type of intelligence is better than the other. Recent events provoked by the Covid-19 has really pushed us to question the relevance of the type of education promoted in educational spaces. But let’s ask ourselves this question, what if you are not academically smart at mathematics, but brilliant at languages, music or some other vocational skills which came to you naturally, would that make you unintelligent? This resonates with Einstein’s quote- that is you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will go through its life feeling stupid for not being able to climb a tress like a monkey. So, it is very important to know what type of intelligence you have in order to maximize your inherent advantages and highlight an area where you need an extra push to succeed.

What is Intelligence?

In their book on intelligence, professors Resing and Drenth define intelligence as; "The whole of cognitive or intellectual abilities required to obtain knowledge, and to use that knowledge in a good way to solve problems that have a well described goal and structure."

IQ isn’t the sole component of intelligence infact, IQ simply indicates how well you are doing on reasoning within a context of logic in comparison to others. Compared with 50 Einsteins you would have a very low IQ, compared with 50 children in the second grade you would have a much higher IQ. So you may consider yourself very smart in your class, office or community but less smart against another group of persons. Note that intelligence determines the overall personality and specialization of a person whereas IQ concentrates only on study. Also relevant to achieving success is Emotional Intelligence (EQ) whose teaching is usually neglected in schools, this goes a long way in creating imbalance in how we understand ourselves and understand others, which could positively or negatively affect social interactions that defines our cultural fabric.

9 Types of Intelligence

Understanding what type of intelligence, we have and using that intelligence to solve problems indicates how smart or clever you are. Harvard psychologist Howard

addressed in his 1983 book, “Frames of the Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences.” Here, Gardener explains that people do not have a set intellectual capacity, but rather many kinds of intelligence. The following narrative from Sprouts school carries on the 9 types of Intelligence with examples to help us identify what type of intelligence we possess and how it could be instrumental to our society.

Let’s consider the problem of the council of Newtown, who wants to build a bridge over the dangerous railroad tracks. But there is strong opposition from some citizens who don't like change. Despite the demonstrations, the council agrees to go ahead and then hires a team of 9 experts from Smarts & Co. to get the job done.

Let’s introduce each one of them:

Miss Picture Smart- Visual Intelligence played a lot of hide and seek when she was young. And she loved puzzles. She has lots of imagination and ideas about shapes. Her job in the project is to create the plans, make the designs and build a prototype.

Mr. Nature Smart- Naturalist Intelligence loves trees and he has great ideas of how to minimize the impact of a bridge on the environment. He started thinking of these issues ever since the first time he went summer camping with dad. He developed a passion for all living beings.

Mrs. Number Smart- Logical Intelligence is a nerd. She always was. In the playground, she was already calculating the sand buckets needed to build the biggest castle. In high-school, she was the Chess-master and everyone was so proud her. She will calculate the costs, study workers safety issues and estimate the raw materials needed. Her concerns are the budget, resources and risks.

Mrs. People Smart- Interpersonal Intelligence arranges a town meeting and goes out to invite all the citizens to come. She was always good with people. As a kid, she spent most of the time outside with her neighbours. As a teenager, her mom explained to her that most people mean well, even if they have trouble showing their feelings. Today, everyone loves her and she does a great job convincing everyone, even the most outspoken opponents.

Miss Word Smart- Linguistic Intelligence has been keeping a diary since she was young. In math class, she wrote poems and during field trips she didn't talk to others but instead studied the travel guide. For the big town hall meeting, she writes a convincing speech, filled with hard facts, big feelings and good metaphors.

Ever since he was young, Jimmy Life Smart- Existential Intelligence knew how to talk and entertain. Today he shows his skills on the stage. He starts his speech with a personal story about his cat that once got lost on the train tracks. Then he delivers all the arguments with so much passion, that all citizens can only agree with the plan.

Now, as construction starts, Mr. Body Smart- Kinesthetic Intelligence gets ready to get things done. Even the children are inspired by his power and want to help. During the breaks, he plays football with his team, which is fun and teaches him balance skills he later can use high up in the sky.

Madame Self Smart- Intra-personal Intelligence knows a lot about feelings: our fears, joys and angers. She learned this from her own past where she started to reflect on herself. But she also reads a lot about feelings and talks to her friends about their emotions. During the construction, she is the positive force, motivates those that feel down, and solves tensions that can come up when we collaborate.

While everyone is busy finishing the bridge, Mrs. Music Smart- Musical Intelligence writes a song for the grand opening. She has loved music ever since she started playing piano. Later she moved on to Hip Hop and Jazz-Dance. At the opening ceremony of the bridge, she and her band perform the song.

Before I end, let me drop this quote “When next you catch yourself feeling too intelligent because of your educational accomplishment,  degrees or certifications, remember the school only gave a few of these, not all- and while none is above any in the spectrum of intelligence, we can only gain superior awareness and benefits from the application of all the intelligence we possess and not just a few” Henry Makolle, Teach Connect. 

That said can you identify what type of Intelligence you have?

It is now clear that logical intelligence isn’t the only type of intelligence and we cannot only dwell on one type of intelligence to create an impact. It is either we are collaborating with others like the experts did for the bridge construction or we are constantly expanding our knowledge and building on our weaknesses to match up to the other types of intelligence which are not inborn to build stronger and cohesive communities.

Raissa Linwa 
Communication Officer
Teach Connect 

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