Isn’t it time we re-evaluated our idea of intelligence?

Isn’t it time we re-evaluated our idea of intelligence?

TED, as you probably know, is a global set of conferences owned by the private non-profit Sapling Foundation, under the slogan “ideas worth spreading” (Thanks Wikipedia).

The conferences, which are uploaded onto its Youtube Channel never fail to be thought-provoking and challenging of commonly held perceptions of the world. It was here on TED’s Youtube Channel that I stumbled across a lecture called “Do Schools Kill Creativity”.

The talk, given by oh-so eloquent education expert Sir Ken Robinson, put forward the provocative argument that, through our current system of education, “We are educating people out of their creativity”.

Robinson explained that every education system in the world has the same hierarchy of subjects; Maths and Languages are at the top, Humanities subjects in the middle, and the Arts at the bottom. This system came about as a way to serve the needs of industrialism in terms of producing the best possible workers.

In this, the hierarchy is rooted in the idea that the most useful subjects needed for work are at the top. As a result, those subjects that are considered to be less useful, and therefore less important, fall by the wayside. Essentially education systems worldwide are not helping children to grow into their creativity, but instead to grow out of it.

This thought is a horrifying one. Our whole planet is operating under a system where, from the off, we are not seen as individuals whose talents, whether they be in dancing or in mathematics, have equal worth and merit. From our very birth we are conditioned into believing that we have to sacrifice our creative passions in order to get a job.

But here lies the problem. We as a society, are undergoing a constant process of academic inflation. A few years ago getting a degree meant getting a job. Now, with more and more people getting degrees, they no longer provide that same guarantee. Now, you need a Masters or a PhD.

Which is why things need to change. The current education system through which society is organised is tired and anachronistic, with its origins in the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century.

It is high time we had another of a different kind – a revolution in education. Like the way we have mined the planet of its resources, through our current system of education we have mined our brains of all of their academic nutrients.

What we have forgotten in the process is that our academic intelligence is not the only source of goodness; it is not the only commodity worth having. Our minds are rich in creativity; they are fertile vistas of imagination.

In a time where it is no longer possible to have the getting-a-degree-to-get-a-job philosophy, it is therefore crucial that we look to reorganizing our education system so that it stops stigmatizing the arts and starts opening up possibilities for more jobs in the creative fields.

And in light of recent work in cognitive neuroscience suggesting a connection between ADHD and creativity, this subject couldn’t be more relevant. Intelligence isn’t something that can be quantified. There are too many different ways in which someone can be intelligent.Some people may think through numbers and equations, but some think best when they are dancing and moving.

It is imperative that we re-shape our current educational system so that every type of intelligence is valued and no child’s talents are left undiscovered. No one type of intelligence should be considered to be absolute, instead we should celebrate and facilitate their coexistence.

So, with that in mind, I’m off to learn some Spanish, and then dance some Salsa.

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