Monday, October 15, 2007

Different Ways To Learn

Sometimes I wonder if there's any real such thing as intelligence or is it just our imagination?

Some of you may have witnessed someone with a "learning disability" have great difficulty in school. Eventually they take some psychological tests and they're told they have a "learning disability." Along with that, they're usually told how they have to learn. For some, they need to draw what they're learning. Some need to explain what they're learning to someone else. Or they need something else. When they find that something else, they're fine and can do quite well in school.

I have witnessed many examples of people who, by our public "education" system aren't very smart, and have low chance of success. But they found that they learn differently. Once they found out how they need to learn, and put their new learning techniques into practice, they become much more successful, and by our public "education" systems' standards, smart.

After seeing enough cases I have to wonder if there's any such thing as absolute intelligence, but rather different kinds of intelligences, and different learning styles. If you think you're stupid and incompetent you're probably not. You just haven't figured out how you learn. If you know someone who appears stupid and incompetent, they may well not be. They might have yet to learn how they learn.

You may have noticed I put "learning disability" in quotes. "Learning disability" implies that they're disabled; ie: unable to do something. I'd rather call it "learning differentability." They just learn in a different way than what the public "education" system thinks everyone should learn. You'll also noticed I put "education" in quotes. But that's for another post.

At this point you may think I have confused intelligence with school smarts. Right now the best measure of intelligence we have is the IQ test. IQ tests were originally developed to predict academic success in children. If you've taken enough IQ tests then you know they're just testing you in a small set of skills. You can improve upon those skills. Sometimes you see a problem solving question that you already know the answer to so you don't need to use any mental horsepower to solve it. This artificially boosts your test score. The more you practice those types of problems, the better you are at solving them. But your mental horsepower hasn't necessarily changed.

So IQ tests don't actually test your inherent mental horsepower, but your ability to solve certain types of problems. They're meant to predict academic success in a given teaching/learning model. However, it is noteworthy that many people with learning differentabilities have exceedingly high IQs. But I have no actual statistics to back that up. Just the availability heuristic.

Anyway, my point/theory is that there are multiple types of intelligences/learning models, not just one as generally imagined by the mass populace.

1 comment:

Esther Carney said...

Ha, I failed an IQ test. Well they never told me that I failed, just ignored me in class from that week onwards, and kept looking at me in a funny way.
I have a lousy sense of direction. One day I was sitting in junior school and they told us we had to go to the senior school for an IQ test.
I went to the toilet and when I came back my classmates had left already. I had some trouble locating the place (which was only a few hundred yards up the road), and when I got there they were all scribbling away madly. Well I would have started scribbling too, only I didn't have a pencil. Then, on the front of the IQ test booklet, there was a section where I had to write my date of birth. Well I had never ever written my date of birth before and wasn't sure if I was zero in the year I was born or one. It took me awhile to figure that out. When I got to the questions, I found they were all really quite simple and easy, but I didn't get to do many of them before they told us the time was up.

Anyway nowadays they talk about social quotient (SQ) being more important for success in life than IQ. Now if they'd measure my SQ I probably would have done a whole lot worse.

Despite all this I manage to hold down a job.