Intelligence isn’t limited to IQ

Valerie Teegardin

Hot-cold, up-down, left-right, there’s already enough dichotomies in society; smart-stupid shouldn’t be one of them.

Yet that’s exactly how the education system views intelligence, like it’s some black and white concept in which you’re either smart, or you’re not.

What better way to figure out which category one falls in than to force everyone to take the exact same exams that test the exact same scope of intelligence and evaluate the scores using the exact same letter grade standards?

The way levels of intelligence are determined in America is so inaccurate of what intellect actually entails it’s almost comical.

Frankly, the only thing that grades measure is a student’s ability to submit to the standardized curriculum, brown-nose and cheat.

Take Christopher Langan, for example. He got an academic full ride to Reed College but he lost the whole scholarship because his financial aid failed to be renewed on time.

Instead of clearing this misunderstanding up with the administration by explaining what happened and fighting to get the scholarship reinstated, Langan let the situation go unattended.

The following semester, Langan withdrew from the college right before finals week, riddling his once-flawless transcripts with a harsh streak of F’s.

Despite his brilliant
IQ score, this guy is not the brightest crayon in the coloring box, in my opinion.

Believing IQ parallels levels of intellect, Langan is seen to be smart in the eyes of the education system, but what good does that do if he can’t survive outside classroom walls?

The way I see it, the smaller the range of skills being tested in students, the greater their chances are of flunking in other equally important, yet grossly undervalued areas of intelligence.

Unfortunately for Langan, he never learned to be proficient in other branches of intellect, which was untimely the mark of death for his dropped scholarship.

One such varying branch is social intelligence, an area of competence measured by the ability to interact, internalize social cues and communicate with others.

In other words, possessing social intellect means an individual has “street smarts,” a 360-degree turn away from the traditional IQ skills derived from standardized curriculum.

This is something I’m personally grateful for, because without diverse forms of intellect, society would be royally screwed.

Everyone would become versions of Langan, with the traditionally sought-after book smarts, but not the social skills critical for applying that kind of knowledge in real life.

These multiple layers and variations of proficiency are so complex, it’s irrefutable that intelligence simply cannot be defined by a single test score.

Valerie Teegardin can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @vteegardin.