Intelligence: A Product Of Social Construction
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Intelligence: A Product of Social Construction
Since the development of the intelligence quotient, schools in every part of the world have been using the IQ test to categorize millions of students into three groups. These three groups, which are the gifted, the average, and the retarded, are falsifications that perpetuate in our world culture and cause many gifted students to be deemed retarded and vice a versa. Why then is the IQ test so heavily relied on in our school systems? For schools the answer is simple, an I.Q. test is a reliable predictor of a students later performance in academics. This answer is relatively true, but where the I.Q. test falls extremely short is with testing the multiple intelligences of the human brain. The intelligence quotient test, developed by Alfred Binet, was created to evaluate ones intelligence with a test that would yield a numerical value that could be compared with a collective average to determine ones level of intelligence. However, the questions of an I.Q. test, or even the SATs for that matter, are testing only the verbal-mathematical forms of intelligence. The human brain is extremely complicated and advanced, and to assume that the indicators of intelligence are only found in logical and linguistic intelligences is a poor assumption at best. A more comprehensive test, which can test all seven types of intelligence, should be implemented into the educational system to ensure every student an education tailored to their strongest abilities.
In every elementary school in America third graders are forced to take a test that will greatly impact their academic careers. The G.A.T.E. program, which stands for gifted and talented education, is designed to separate the gifted children from the average and below average kids. However, the G.A.T.E. test is comprised of questions the children do not have the answers for. In other words, the kids are being tested on their innate knowledge of the world and their ability to creatively solve problems they have never encountered. Some might believe there is no flaw in testing a childs natural intelligence. The test is given to each student and each student is given the same amount of time to complete a test of identical questions. But what educators fail to account for is the social bias of the test and the socio-economical backgrounds of the students taking the test. It is a fact that children from white middle and upper classes do better on these and other standardized tests because the test creators are of the white middle and upper classes. With this in mind, how then is it fair to give a student in Compton the same test that is given to a student in Beverly Hills? The answer is obvious, it is not fair. However, if a test on life in the ghetto and Ebonics was given to children in Beverly Hills, it is safe to assume nearly all the children would fail. This example illustrates that by changing the culture for which the test is written the previously gifted kids fall to the ranks of retards while the ghetto kids advance to the state of genius. To better evaluate the intelligence potential of any student from any background, the I.Q. tests given should cover a broader range of topics, so that a musical genius is not mistakenly placed in a class for the mentally challenged.
A renowned professor of education and psychology at Harvard University, Howard Gardner has radically changed the way we look at intelligence. In 1983 Gardner published the first of two books that theorize that there are multiple intelligences. Gardner believes “that human cognitive competence is better described in terms of a set of abilities, talents, or mental skills, which we call “intelligence” (378). Gardners theory dismisses the idea that intelligence is a single attribute of the mind and suggests that there are different types of intelligences that account for different human abilities such as playing an instrument or hitting a tennis ball. Through his studies, Gardner has identified seven distinct forms of intelligence, which include musical, bodily-kinesthetic, logical-mathematical, linguistic, spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal intelligences. These different categories of intelligence should be the basis for future intelligence tests because they more accurately calculate the intelligence of an individual.
However, many people do not see how a professional baseball player, like Tony Gwin, can be a genius in his respective field. To analyze this problem we will break down the process of hitting a ball thrown by a professional pitcher. First, the distance from the mound to the plate is 90 feet. A fastball going 100 mph travels 90 feet in one second or less, which is all the time the hitter has to react. When the hitter sees the pitcher begin his pitch the brain begins sending messages to the muscles in the body. When the ball leaves the pitchers hand the hitter