Are we getting smarter?
April 20, 1998
This forum's introduction
Questions answered in this forum:
Why do we still look at IQ scores? Is technology the cause of rising IQ scores? Has environmental or health factors increased IQ scores? Do current IQ tests reflect the idea of multiple intelligences? How does a person's race or socioeconomic background affect his or her IQ scores? Should student testing be changed to reflect the times? Viewer Comments
March 18, 1998
New findings unscramble the mystery of dyslexia.
August 27, 1997
A Gergen Dialogue with Howard Gardner, author of "Extraordinary Minds."
June 13, 1997
Does science prove the existence of woman's intuition?
November 26, 1996
Stephen Jay Gould talks about evolution.
Browse the NewsHour's coverage of law.
American Psychological Association
An online IQ test.
David Eliaser of Concord, CA, asks:
Have I.Q. tests been modified to better reflect multiple intelligences (Howard Gardner et al.)? Does the rise in I.Q. reflect a more accurate measurement on intellectual functioning or a change in function? If the latter is true, how should school curricula be modified to reflect the changing intellectual profile?
Prof. Ulric Neisser of Cornell University responds:
No, the standard tests have not been modified to include Gardner's "multiple intelligences." In some cases no one would know how to measure them (What would be a good test of "intrapersonal intelligence?), in other cases there is disagreement with Gardner as to what should count as an "intelligence" anyway (Bodily movement skills? Musical talent?)
I myself think that the Flynn IQ gains reflect real changes in certain cognitive skills - changes that have occurred even though these skills are rarely taught in the schools. (In fact the tests that depend most directly on school learning - vocabulary, general information, etc.- show small gains or no gains at all.) So if the new skills are developing so well all by themselves, maybe schools should just keep on doing what they are doing now!
Prof. Alice Honig of Syracuse University responds:
Dr. Gardner has done a great service for parents and teachers. He has made specifically clear that there is not only a general level of intellectual abstraction ability and problem solving ability, but that different folks have different specific domains in which they excel in their abilities to learn, to act and to reflect. Some folks are superb at language skills; some at math skills, spatial skills, artistic arrangments and color and aesthetics skills, some at chess, some at music, some at ice-skating and using the body with incredible grace with movement in space . If Gardner's rubric helps us appreciate and respect and nurture each kind of intelligence, Bravo! A heartbreaking example for me is when a local newspaper asked for New Years' resolutions one year. One 10 year old wrote in that he promised never to doodle any more in class. His parents and teachers disapproved so much. Of course, that child could, with encouragement and good teaching, have grown up possibly to become another Hirschfield (maybe!) or a fine newspaper cartoonist! How narrowly we sometimes construe the gifts of children! How important it is that we reflect on each child's gifts. A parent will call and say "Dr. Honig my kid is driving me crazy!. He climbs on the tallest furniture . He is a wild kid.. I am going crazy." Yet, another child is fearful and cannot negotiate the slide in the playground well even at 4 years. We must open parents' and caregivers' eyes to the multiple gifts that children have..some with their bodies, their artistic or musical perceptions and abilities..some with their writing and speaking eloquence... and some who can clamber up on every perilous piece of furniture before they are 18 months! Keep them safe ..yes! but celebrate the diversity of gifts ..YES!
Let us not forget social intelligence. Many a child may not be brilliant at reading, writing and 'rithmatic... But that child can make every body in the class feel specially recognized, greeted, cared about, empathized with if a knee is scraped or feelings are wounded. We need more interpersonal intelligence at our bargaining tables to ensure world peace! Former President Carter has such skills. President Clinton's work all through the night to get the Northern Ireland agreement shows extraordinary quantities of those interpersonal skills, and, of course, Martin Luther King had not only verbal eloquence gifts of intellect but those peacemaking skills also.
Next: Do IQ tests account for differences in socioeconomic background, racial or gender?