NATURE OR NURTURE

Cite evidences from personal experience that would support one or both ideas that intelligence inherited or shaped by environmental factors?

Intelligence is inherited.  

For this topic I would not go far to look for an example. I will cite my own family as a case and use Howard Gardner’s M.I. theory.  My parents being educators value schooling and learning a lot.  As their children, we all learned to value this as well.  However, I have observed that even though my sibling and I all grew in the same nurturing environment, ate the same food, took the same brand of vitamins, exposed to the same activities, we all grew with different strengths, interests and intelligences. If Intelligence is purely acquired and shaped by the environment, I believe that we would have developed all the same intelligences since we all have been exposed to the same things as we grew up. But this is not the case. I often hear relatives say that my brother’s mathematical abilities (Logical-mathematical Intelligence) can be traced back from my father’s side of the family.  In contrast, I find myself lost in numbers although I consider myself as naturalistic and visual-spatial. My sister’s singing and dancing abilities (Musical and Bodily Kinesthetic Intelligence) were inherited from my mother.  Now, my niece at 7 years of age has started to show same kinesthetic Intelligence as a ballet dancer already. According to Damien Gayle’s article, up to 40% of a child’s intelligence is passed down from the parents.

As an analogy, a seed’s potential to produce is imbedded in its genetic make up.  Like a seed, we all posses certain intelligence or intelligences that are eventually expressed with the help of the environment. But no matter how stimulating the environment may be, if the trait (intelligence)  is not there in the first place, it will never be expressed.

Intelligence is shaped by the environment.  I can personally attest that the environment significantly shapes one’s intelligence.  During my college years at the university, I fortunately have found friends who were industrious in studying academics and clinical work.  Their intelligence coupled with their commitment to succeed have made them A students.  I honestly consider myself  as an average learner back then but because of my exposure to their work ethics, study habits and time management, I have learned to level up my own ways to keep up with them. I was encouraged and internally motivated  by what I saw and experienced.  On the other hand, I also have seen people who did not do well not because they lack the talent, skill and intelligence but because they have learned to hang around unproductive associates that eventually lead them to acquiring poor work ethics and study habits.

Going back to my seed analogy earlier,  I would say that even though the seed possesses a good genetic make up that will allow it to produce well if it is devoid of a good soil that will provide its needed nutrition, water  and sunlight, it will never reach its maximum potential in expressing its best traits.  Same goes with intelligence. Even the most intelligent person can become dull, unmotivated without constant intellectual stimuli that will engage and encourage the learner.  Our daily experiences significantly nurture the development of our intelligence.

 

Weaknesses of standard test (Binet and Stanford, etc.) as determinants for qualification for employment / admission into schools?

Standard intelligence tests such as the Stanford and Binet test alone does not give a complete picture of one’s intellectual ability.  Much of the standard tests only measure or lean towards academic knowledge which may be beneficial for assessing scholastic performance for  school admissions purposes only .  Intelligence is a very complex subject matter.  One has to go beyond what people know in academics. As David Perkins says it is a dynamic combination of a person’s neurological system, accumulation of expertise and ability to reflect and come up with strategies to solve problems.

For example, how do you measure creativity, leadership, interpersonal and intrapersonal skills and abilities that highly affect one’s potential to succeed in life other than academics.  I would like to think, and many will agree with me, that intelligence is relevant to one’s situation, career or work demand.  An intelligent farmer may not have the language fluency and technical writing ability of a lawyer but definitely has the knowledge and deep understanding of the science of his industry.  He has the right instincts, skills and capabilities that allow him to assess his environment. He is  able to craft strategies in his field that make him productive and successful. If we are to use Howard Gardner’s definition of intelligence, standard IQ tests would definitely miss a large part of different people’s intelligences.

Can you suggest alternative ways that would be qualify as a “more fair” or “more valid” basis for assessment of intelligence?

I suggest that aside from the regular standard IQ tests, one’s intelligence, capabilities and skills should be measured as required by the job. You see, in sports for example, being able to understand and identify sports terminologies, rules and strategies do not make you automatically a good player in the field.  It requires one to know and to physically perform and mentally understand and coordinate actions that are in tune with your team’s game plan. As the test of the pie is in the eating, I believe that the nature of the job should be able to define the kind of multiple intelligence the person has to posses that will make him worthy to qualify for it.

What ways do our notions about intelligence affect the way we teach and/ or learn? Having thus considered different views of intelligence, how do you think intelligence should be defined (i.e., how would you refine the definition of intelligence)? 

The way we understand intelligence affects the way we approach our students.  In many schools, so much weight is given to cognitive abilities like it is all that matters.  Academics have almost become the sole measure of the learner’s future successes. I think that  this is an old school of thought and many things,  like intelligence, have far evolved in time. Today’s generation of learners have developed and have become more complex as they possess multiple talents and skills. Howard Gardner was able to help us define this various intelligences and their learning styles. It is necessary that we use our creativity as teachers to be able to appeal to our students and strive relevance and significance in their lives.

For me, intelligence is not just about academic abilities. It is a combination of cognitive, affective , reflective abilities that allow the individual to adapt and excel in the demands of his work, organization and industry  through the changing times.

Sources:

Thank your parents if you’re smart: Up to 40% of a child’s intelligence is inherited, researchers claim
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2293861/Thank-parents-youre-smart-Up-40-childs-intelligence-inherited-researchers-claim.html

Carol Brainbridge. Creating Gifted Children – Nature or Nurture?

http://giftedkids.about.com/od/gifted101/qt/nature_nurture.htm