Children learn very early in their schooling how to determine intelligence: grades. But is intelligence really this black and white?
This post is inspired by a conversation I had with three good friends from my highschool. As we were having dinner, we started to talk about the relationship between the general beliefs society, how the media affects those beliefs, and the crucial lesson that is almost completely lost in the educational system: how to think critically.
Society’s beliefs are made up of so many factors, but the general consensus is apparent to everyone in the population: bad grades = stupid
With regards to schooling, this consensus has driven us to severely undermine the potential of students based on their performance in school. We are told at a young age that if we work hard, we will get a good education, which will then lead us to a good job. This is something many youth don’t believe, and they have reason not to. Post-secondary degrees no longer guarantee jobs, but students aren’t being presented with appealing alternatives. This is to say that young adults that don’t get a post-secondary education, be it by choice or because of poor grades, are being viewed as “failures” by society.
I think this view is mostly because of the interpretation of good grades as intelligence. This is so false a notion I cannot even fathom how much I hate this mode of thinking. BLARGH. There are seven types of intelligences:
Your grades do NOT measure your intelligence! The only intelligence that gets measured in the common classroom is logical-mathematical. Every other intelligence gets shunned within classroom walls or is only implicitly acknowledged. Classes that are available to students which focus on the other intelligences tend to be undermined. Our society doesn’t value “skills that aren’t in the standard curriculum” (frenchfirecracker) and this is stunting the potential of many students. As a result, intelligent people are thinking that they are not intelligent because their strength lies in intelligences that aren’t reflected in their school grades.
When I was going through highschool, university was the most realistic option. My parents were (are) both working and I had good grades. I had not even considered any alternatives to a university education. I wasn’t aware there were any alternatives—like apprenticeship and vocational studies—as I completed my application forms to McMaster University and the University of Waterloo. In highschool, there was this constant unspoken pressure that if you wished to pursue a career that wasn’t in science, math, or business, you would have a hard time getting a job.
I knew many students who weren’t getting good grades but were so, so good at things outside of the classroom. These students were often the ones that grew up hating school and learning.
Education is a process of living and not a preparation for future living. – John Dewey
The youth of today are being saturated by so many mediums of knowledge: television, the internet, books, video games, etc. There is just so much access to new things to learn from, be the information vocational (career-related) or not. It’s no wonder students get bored in school. Why would anyone be interested in knowing the various mechanisms a benzene ring can undergo under acidic conditions when they can instead be learning about something that truly interests them from random websites on the internet? Our students are not getting “dumber” nor is ADHD an epidemic among them. It’s just that the things they are learning in school and the way in which it is presented to them is just so boring when compared to things they can learn about on their own, that they would choose to learn about.
What can be done about this lack of interest amidst an oversaturated life of knowledge? I’m not really sure. One thing I do know is that encouraging students to think outside of the box is the best way to prepare them for any sort of future. The educational system doesn’t stress critical and creative thinking enough, at least not for my taste.
School shouldn’t be all about getting the right answer. In the bigger picture of life, there isn’t always a correct answer. What should be more emphasized is the process of getting to that answer by thinking creatively and critically.
This post was inspired by this video by the RSA (an enlightenment organisation committed to finding innovative practical solutions to today’s social challenges) on Changing Education Paradigms. Please take a look and let me know what you think! Is the way our schools are structured enough to prepare our youth for the future? What should change? What needs to change?