Tests only tell half the story. Or, more exactly, one quarter of the story.
The typical school curriculum uses text book reading, comprehension questions and written tests to teach and evaluate learning. Assessment and standardized tests require proficiency in those same skills of reading, writing and logic, to score well. Those skills are really two main abilities: linguistic, (language skill,) and logical, (mathematic, skill.) There are actually eight different ways to be smart
The Many Ways to Be Smart
Standardized tests only measure ¼ of the ways to be smart. What about the other ¾?
Somebody once asked me if the whole idea of multiple intelligences, there being more than one way to be smart, was just a cop-out, a pat on the back sort of thing to make people with lower IQ’s feel better about themselves. It most definitely is not. The people who insist on that view are the people who make a living selling IQ and standardized achievement tests.
If there was only one way to be smart, the only successful people would be those who score well on IQ tests.
Kokoroe EdTech via Compfight
What is “smart”? What does it mean to have intelligence? Webster’s dictionary calls it “capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding, and similar forms of mental activity” So, if intelligence is a capacity for learning, why do we limit it to just people who are good at learning using language and logical skills? Why do we consider someone who has a very high capacity for understanding the people around them as somehow less intelligent than someone who has a high capacity for learning math equations? They both have a high capacity for learning.
Samantha is a gifted musician. Since age 9 she has been playing concert piano. In school, she tends to reverse her letters and has trouble reading. So, she is sent to remedial classes and has an Individual Education Plan (IEP) because she is considered “learning disabled.”
Terrance plays baseball. A lot. He plays very well for a 14 year old. So well in fact, he plays on the high school varsity team, instead of junior varsity like his peers. Terrance also struggles with writing. He absolutely hates to write, his handwriting is poor and he’ll do anything to get out of writing a report. Like Samantha, he has an IEP and goes to a special ed. writing class twice a week.
Jenna is gift academically. She’s in junior high, but reads college level books. She spends so much time reading, she doesn’t spend much time with friends. She has a hard time getting along with kids her age, strenuously avoids any kind of physical activity, and doesn’t participate in extracurricular events. Jenna does NOT go to special needs classes for help with her athletic dis-ability, she doesn’t get any training in how to get along with others and no one insists she make the effort to join any band, theater, journalism, or other activities.
Could someone please tell me why Jenna is gifted while Samantha and Terrance are sent to special needs classes? Why do we only test for reading and writing ability? I can hear someone saying “well, we need to be able to read and write, no matter what we do in life.” True, but as adults do we all read and write at the same level as our peers? Adults are allowed to specialize, to shine, with our unique talents and abilities. No one asks if we can diagram a sentence or explain Pythagoras’ theory. No one cares; unless you’re an English or math teacher, that is. In which case, if you don’t know how to diagram a sentence or explain Pythagoras’ theory, email me, we need to talk
Every Child Deserves to be Valued
The theory of multiple intelligences is more than just the idea there is more than one way to be smart. It is also a call to value those different intelligences, to respect them as all equally important and worthwhile. If we meet a court judge who is extremely empathetic, able to mediate problems with wisdom, tact and diplomacy, we call them gifted. A child in the classroom, who is more interested in showing compassion to a hurting friend than she is in finishing her 15th row of math problems, is called a problem. We recognize and appreciate the different forms of intelligence in adults, but discount them in children.
There would be more exceptional adults if their unique gifts and ways of being smart were encouraged and built up in their school years instead of being disparaged or ignored. So many children, with wonderful, unique ways of seeing and relating to the world, are growing up believing they are at best dumb, at worst, learning disabled because they scored in the 25th percentile on some standardized test. They turn out to be unmotivated adults with low self-esteem and little sense of their own value. The exceptional intelligence they were born with lies dormant under the weight of poor test scores.
What if we could identify those other ways of being smart? What if we could nurture them in our children, give them opportunities to practice those skills along with reading, writing and arithmetic? Dr. Howard Gardner formulated the theory of Multiple Intelligence in the early 1970’s. Click here for the 8 ways to be smart he has identified with some clues to identifying them: Multiple Intelligences Made Easy