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All the ways to be smart

In the words of children’s author Davina Bell “Every hour of every day, we’re smart in our own special way.” Her book ‘All The Ways to Be Smart’ is a favourite in our household and identifies some of the less celebrated ways people show their intelligence.

Unfortunately schools rely on standardised testing and don’t often leave room to celebrate each child’s unique skills & interests. These kinds of tests have their place and can be helpful in identifying children who are struggling (or gifted) as a way to offer extra support. But there are SO many issues with them.

In the early 1900s, intelligence tests were developed and claimed to offer unbiased measurement of a person’s intellectual ability. The first of these tests was developed is what we know as the modern (Stanford Binet) IQ test. Ironically, Alfred Binet thought that IQ tests were inadequate measures for intelligence, pointing to the test’s inability to properly measure creativity or emotional intelligence.

These kinds of tests will never properly measure intelligence. This is because intelligence is subjective. What may be considered intelligent in one environment, might not in others. When reflecting on academic testing and school grades, I often remember this quote: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

There is a wealth of evidence to suggest that our culture and environments shape our development, thinking & our ‘intelligence’. It is so important that we help our children understand that academic success is just ONE way to be clever. They are all clever in their own special ways and this is something that should be nurtured, celebrated and praised.

What's a different or unusual way your child has shown you how intelligent they are?

References: Heath 1998; Chen, Mo & Honomichi 2004; Carraher, Carraher & Shieemann 1998

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