Educators and psychologists have long debated what intelligence really is and how it should be measured. If the concept of intelligence is changed, curriculum changes at schools must also change, and testing for mastery of curriculum must also be reconsidered. This has far-reaching implications for a world that uses testing for promotions and job opportunities.
Charles Spearman developed an early theory of intelligence in the beginning of the twentieth century. He called it the “general intelligence factor,” abbreviated the “g-factor.” Spearman “noted that all tests of mental ability are positively correlated. Spearman discovered that people who discovered that people who score high on Intelligence Quotient (IQ) or mental ability tests usually scored higher on other types of tests, and that people who scored lower generally had lower scores on other tests.” The concept of g has positive correlation with high academic and social success. It also has a negative correlation with high school dropout, crime, unplanned pregnancy and other social negative factors. Studies that have indicated lower g is associated with certain ethnic groups have been highly controversial. Decades after it was developed, academics began to criticize and challenge Spearman’s concept of intelligence. Among them were Jay Gould and Howard Gardner. Gardner developed his theory of multiple intelligences. Gardner taught at Harvard, as did Jay Gould. He proposed his model in 1983, and suggested that there are eight different intelligences. He has since proposed a ninth intelligence. Gardner argued that our current educational model focused only on those children who showed intelligence in the logistical intelligence, such as math and science, or the linguistic intelligence, such as words and reading. He proposed that the other intelligences, which include sports, arts, people skills, entrepreneurs, naturalists, architects, designers and many others bring much needed gifts and talents to our world and enrich our lives. However, the intelligence of these individuals is not recognized by our educational system and therefore their talents are not encouraged. These individuals may be labeled as ADHD or learning disabled. It is through these labels that these individuals are possibly programmed to the social failure that was noted in the correlations seen by Spearman.
Most educators and psychologists today lean towards Gardner’s theory. This theory reflects the more diversified atmosphere and understanding of the world we live in and the appreciation we have grown to discover for the multiple talents of the individuals in it. A study conducted in 2000 suggested that Spearman’s theory was the more correct of the two however. It was published in Science Magazine and discussed the possible finding of the specific part of the brain linked to intelligence. According to an article published in BBC News, the part of the brain is the front lateral cortex. BBC News stated that “these findings seem to support the 1904 theory of psychologist Charles Spearman, who argued that people used a particular part of the brain when performing complex tasks.” This contradicts Gardner’s theory that different intelligences come from different parts of the brain like different parts of an engine. However, more research is of course needed to fully understand the theory of intelligence.
It is difficult to say or determine what intelligence truly is. The most gift student in textbook physics often shows no physical abilities on a football field. The ability to watch a football pass and determine at what point the body needs to run, jump and catch can only be a type of intelligence in action. The mind is obviously working out a physics problem and applying it to the body in kinetics. To not acknowledge this as a form of intelligence and instead label this student as a “dumb jock” when he struggles on a math test is a disservice to all of society. Psychologists and educators need to work together to find ways to apply what his mind and body already knows and build bridges or dendrites from that area to the other areas of his mind. By doing this, both the individual and society will benefit tremendously.