How Intelligent are you? (Part 2)

In many cases,  definitions of intelligence given in encyclopaedia  either contributed by an individual psychologists or quoted from earlier definitions given by a psychologist, commonly agreed that intelligence is “The ability to use memory, knowledge, experience, understanding, reasoning, imagination and judgement in order to solve problems and adapt to new situations” (AllWords Dictionary, 2006) – A Collection of Definitions of Intelligence (Shane Legg & Marcus Hutter, 2007).

None of the definitions mentioned that intelligence is a fixed amount or it can be measured through paper and pencil test so it can be expressed in a numerical grade! Ironically, most of our society  believe this and have come to take it for granted. The source is at the heart of education system that has fed public opinion through the idea of academic ability and the systems used in schools and college entrance examinations.

People do not know or might not want to know that at the beginning, Alfred Binet, one of the creators of IQ test, intended the test to identify children with special needs so they could get their appropriate forms of schooling. He never intended it to identify degrees of intelligence. Binet noted that the scale he created “does not permit the measure of intelligence, because intellectual qualities are not suppressible and therefore cannot be measured as liner surfaces are measured”- (IQ Test: Where does It Come From and What Does It Measure?

The nature of intelligence has always been a matter of controversy, especially among the many professional specialists who spend their lives thinking about it. Havard psychologist Howard Gardner has argued to claim that human have not one but multiple intelligences. They are linguistic, musical, mathematical, spatial, kinaesthetic, interpersonal, and intra personal. He argues that these types of intelligence are more or less independent of each other, some might be “dominant” while others are “dormant”. He says that we all have different strengths in different intelligences and that education should treat them equally to enable children receive opportunities to develop their individual abilities. (Frames of Mind – Howard Gardner, 1983).

There is no quantifiable evidence to prove intelligence. There may be. But the clear fact of everyday experiences is that human intelligence is diverse and multifaceted – it can be seen from the richness and complexity of human culture and achievement. Human ability is everywhere. We “think” about our experiences in many ways.

According to Ken Robinson in his book “The Element, How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything” – 2009, says that human intelligence seems to have at least three main features; diverse, dynamic and distinctive. And let’s call it the 3-D of human intelligence.

Diverse. It is clear that intelligence is not limited to the ability to do verbal and mathematical tasks. These skills are important, but they are simply just ONE WAY in which intelligence expresses itself. Think about the world in all the ways that we experience it, including all the different ways we use our senses. We think in sound. We think in movement. We think visually. Look at how the dancers dance, how the singers sing, how the musicians play their musical instruments, how athletes perform, how painters paint, and many other professions  that involve using multiple forms of intelligence. If we don’t embrace the fact that we think about the world in a wide variety of ways, we severely limit our chances of finding the person that we were meant to be.

Dynamic. The human brain is intensely interactive. Every task we perform involves multiple parts of it. It finds new connections every time we learn new things. Intelligence is not a single linear line that has a clear end. It keeps developing over time through interactions and collaborations or any other forms that enable it to connect and construct knowledge and understanding.

Distinctive. Every person’s intelligence is  as unique as a fingerprint. There might be ten, or hundred different forms of intelligence, but each of us uses these forms in different ways. It involves a different combination of dominant and dormant intelligences. Even twins use their intelligences differently from one another. No two people will do the same things, share all of the same passions, or accomplish the same amount in their lives.

“How intelligent are you?” – What do you think about the question I put as a title of this article? Should the question be “How are you intelligent?” Can you differentiate these two questions after knowing that intelligence is diverse, dynamic and distinctive? Is it clear the differences between both?

Think about it will have a tremendous impact on how you perceive intelligence.

Jakarta, March 15th, 2014



-(AllWords Dictionary, 2006) – A Collection of Definitions of Intelligence (Shane Legg & Marcus Hutter, 2007).

– (IQ Test: Where does It Come From and What Does It Measure?

– (Frames of Mind – Howard Gardner, 1983).

– “The Element, How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything” Ken Robinson- 2009

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