Redefining Intelligence

It is always common in our culture when the word “intelligence” is mentioned, to quickly equate it with one’s academic performance in school. The “A” students are always regarded as the intelligent or smart ones. And by such interpretation, anyone with low academic performance is technically regarded as one lacking intelligence.

The truth of the matter is that school’s concept of intelligence is essentially flawed. Consequently, it has both limiting and delimiting effects in that it renders powerless and useless the unique capabilities of those whose intelligence do not play out in accordance with such concept.

And just so you do not think I am making this argument out of a biased mind, I was an “A” student myself while on campus. I made a CGPA of 4.68 making me a first class material and the best graduating student in my department.

So you see, I am not of this opinion because I fared poorly in school. The truth just needed to be told.

__You are a Genius.

There are many lies they tell us in school. Lies that end up frustrating and short circuiting our ability to evolve in more meaningful ways. Lies that stampede our natural growth and development. Lies that practically degenuises us.

Personally I have identified over 10 of such lies they tell us in school. And I hope to make a book out of it sooner than later.

One of my favourite quotes was made by a man called Buckminster Fuller. It says, “Everyone is born a genuis, but the process of life degenuises them.”

When I consider the implication of this statement, it appears that the one common process that degenuises us is what we are taught in school. Let’s not get it twisted, school has contributed and is still contributing immensely to the world.

However, it is evident that the system of education we adopt is not a holistic one. We employ a system that favors one kind of intelligence over others. A system that makes losers out of those who do not perform well as students in particular core subjects.

Everyone is a genius. And that includes you. The problem is not with whether you are a genuis or not as it is with what the system has taught us to believe is a genius. The system teaches us to believe that a genuis is one who makes straight “A’s” in school. One who maintains excellent academic records throughout school life.

Is that what a genuis is?

I don’t like going too far these days to sight examples. But allow me to remind you that many of the founding fathers of modern science like Albert Einstein and Henry Ford never did well in school. In fact, Albert Einstein was once referred to as a “retard” by his class teacher. Yet he’s the same person who set the world towards a new course by his phenomenal invention of the theory of relativity.

What does this tell us? It tells us that our definition of genuis and concept of inteliigence needs an urgent readjustment.

If I should define genuis in the context of this new reality, it will be this; “Genuis is the ability to excel at something.” A genuis is not necessarily good at everything. But s/he is naturally good at something. In fact, a genuis usually has a special ability in one area while being pretty average in other areas.

Now by this new definition, help me answer this two questions:

Is there something you are good at? I’m sure there is.

Now answer this next one,

Are you a genuis? Your guess is as good as mine.

The problem with school is that rather than help us find our own genuis, it forces us to accept the genuis it feels we should be.

__The 7 Intelligences.

Early last year, as I was reflecting over the concept of intelligence, I stumbled on a book that talked about “Frames of mind: the theory of multiple intelligences.” The book was published in 1983 by Howard Gardener, a professor at the Havard Graduate School of education.

He identified 7 types of intelligences that plays out at different degrees in different individuals. I will just highlight them and their key traits.

1. Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence

They are basically word-oriented folks. They naturally enjoy reading, writing, and storytelling. Folks with this intelligence are more likely to pursue a career in the field of law, medicine, literary art, and journalism.

2. Logical-Mathematical Intelligence

They are numerically inclined. They naturally love dealing with numbers, figures, patterns, strategy games and experiments. They are more likely to tread the path of engineering, applied sciences, banking, and accounting.

3. Body-Kinesthetic Intelligence

They are practical people. They love relating with things physically rather than theoretically. They are more likely to pursue a career as athletes, dancers, actors and craftspeople.

4. Spatial Intelligence

They are visually-oriented. They see and appreciate pictures, images, and colors more than anything else. They gravitate more towards careers like interior decoration, event management, fashion designing, architecture, and graphics designing.

5. Musical Intelligence

They are musically inclined. They naturally drift towards anything musical; rhythms, pitch, melody and timbre. For them, everything is about the beats and lyrics. They are likely to find careers in the musical performing arts more interesting than anything else.

6. Interpersonal Intelligence

They are excellent communicators, displaying a high level of sensitivity to other people’s moods, feelings, temperaments and motivations. They tend to go into careers as sales managers, speakers, preachers, politicians, teachers and social activists.

7. Intrapersonal Intelligence

They are the self-driven type. They enjoy the inner world of their own thoughts and feelings. These are the self-starters. Usually they take on the role of therapists, consultants, entrepreneurs, and CEOs.

There are 3 important revelations Howard made through his proposition of a multiple intelligence.

First, his work revealed that there is more than one intelligence. And the school system apparently does not recognize all of them.

Second, the intelligence that’s dominant in a person determines largely his/her learning style. In this manner, most students perform poorly in school because the school system does not put their learning style into consideration while teaching. Typically, this culture forces the students to adopt a learning style that slows down their learning pace making them appear less smart than their counterparts.

For instance, while a Verbal-Linguistic intelligent person may learn a concept faster by simply reading about it, a Body-Kinesthetic intelligent person learns faster by application or practice. The former goes intellectual the latter goes practical.

Lastly, Howard’s concept of multiple intelligence reveals more than anything else the reason being an “A” student in school doesn’t guarantee and translate into success in the real world.

__The Success Intelligence.

It is obvious from the foregoing that if we bank on the kind of Intelligence that school focuses on, to define success in the real world, we will set ourselves up for one of the most traumatic experiences.

Of all the intelligences identified by Howard, intrapersonal intelligence stands out. It is the one intelligence that flows into how other intelligences are maximized. Remember, we all have these intelligences but at varying degrees, with one being more predominant than the rest.

Intrapersonal intelligence is what it takes to thrive in the real world. And this is the reason most students tagged brilliant in school do not always end up accomplishing any phenomenal feat in the real world.

This one intelligence often referred to as emotional intelligence is what one needs in order to master his or her own genuis. The more introspective and internally motivated you become is what decides how fast and how much the unique intelligence you have will emerge and bless the world.

This is the intelligence that school is supposed to pay more attention in helping students develop. Unfortunately, this is not the case. They rather put us in a mold that shuts down completely the activation of the one intelligence required to provoke the genuis in us to emerge. Yet they call us stupid when we fail to keep up the pace.

The key that liberates few of the majority that are victims of this menace is self-education. It means taking responsibility for yourself to do what school has failed to do.

Until this happens, the genuis in you remains locked up. Will you take charge? It is often a hard decision to make but one that certainly worths it in the end.

Just bear in mind that you are super smart.

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