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Ok, my missing post on intelligence...

I'm kind of obsessed with the idea of intelligence.

Have been for as long as I can remember, probably from when I was first told I'd score high on a IQ test (as part of assessment through school to try and figure out what my "issues" were, seeing I was taught myself to read and write before going to school, but I really wasn't doing that well in school, was very easily distracted and distracting to other children, threw tantrums, stormed out and generally made life hell for my teachers and my parents...

Back then I scored 135, I was considered to be gifted.
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As and adult I've been obsessed with proving to myself (and others) that I am intelligent, despite not being "successful" in a wealth and fame sense. I'm not a surgeon, or a great artist, or any kind of groundbreaking inventor or anything... Being considered intelligent is important to me, and I'm constantly testing myself. I am sitting here cringing as I write this, and maybe I won't post this this time either. It's not socially acceptable to discuss intelligence lest you hand someone else and inferiority complex on a platter.

The Bell Curve tells us only a very small percentage of people can be above average intelligent. To get around this, we of course, all agree there are many kinds of intelligence, and intelligence and commonsense are not synonymous. In our society we at once want to put "intelligent people" on a pedastal and we want to cut them down, so they don't feel they're better than the rest of the population.

The thing is, I don't think most intelligent people actually believe they're better than the rest of the population. There are a few egomaniacs out there who do, of course, mostly they suffer from low self-esteem, which isn't helped by having other people constantly telling them they aren't better than anyone else.

Secretly, I think many parents scan their babies faces for a glimmer of something that will say, this child has something more than other children. I know I do. There, I've said it! I do want my children to be somehow special in a way that others can appreciate - intelligence is the key to that. I want my children to be special to other people because they are special to me. This is also, I believe, the key to people feeling the need to put forward their children's achievements - it's pride in your child, it's a way of saying, look how wonderful my child is, because parents - in the vast majority - DO feel their own offspring are extraordinary, and when another parent voices that THEIR child is extraordinary, there is this deep seeded need in us to equalise, because really, honestly no one can love a child as much as the child's own parents and yet each of us parents feels other should love our child as much as we do, LOL...

But back to me...

So, as an adult, I've taken IQ tests online. I don't take the kind of IQ tests you find on "Take this test and find your perfect match" sites, but seek out tests run by Universities, for research and that kind of thing. Yes, I KNOW they aren't taken under controlled conditions, and I know they cannot be validated, but they can reveal a pretty close approximation to the real thing, if you are honest and just do the test straightforwardly.

Ok, so I've done a number of these tests over the years since having the kids, and I always get between 125-129, so below what I got as a kid.

The latest test I did was through an institute in the US which has developed what it believes to be the best (read: most accurate for what it is) online IQ test. I did have to pay a nominal fee for the results, which I know people will think is dodgy, but the fee was explained as being an insurance against people cheating themselves and the institute to better their results etc. and to help finance further research into IQ.

Ok, so I got 125, as before. The difference this time was that the test results not only broke up the tests areas into verbal, spatial etc. but also in verbal knowledge and performance. That is raw understanding versus reaction time and performance on the test. In the verbal I scored 138.8, and in performance I scored 106 - which backs up what I was told as a child. Namely, my vision impedes my performance on these tests.

Now I can't tell you why, I've been trying to think this over for a long while now, but this has somehow calmed me. It has helped me accept that I'm somehow not a fraud just because my life isn't extraordinary. It has also gone some way to helping me allow myself to acknowledge that I am intelligent, more intelligent than average, and that isn't a thing to be shy about or embarrassed over.

I still look for signs of intelligence in my kids, and I see them. In the past I have been shy to tell others about them because I felt like people would just assume I was crapping on, making stuff up or being obnoxious.

You know what though. I don't want my kids to by shy about get certain concepts quickly, or being able to retain information, or having a talent that not everyone has in abundance. I don't want them to feel this need to prove themselves that I continue to struggle with. There is plenty of room in this Universe for all the very intelligent people out there - in all their forms; mental, physical, emotional and psychological. I love to talk about how smashing my kids are, and I love to hear about how smashing other people's kids are. I believe each parent in every anecdote they tell about their kids to show just how brilliant they are!

What gets me is when people feel the need to say, "That's not special, it's common" or "She's thinks her kids are so great, better than other people's kids" (you know, in that tone that says, they're not really)... Well, *news flash* people, everyone thinks they're own child is extraordinary, this is the mechanism that would have us jump into traffic to save our kids... When someone says their child is brilliant, they're not saying your child isn't. Yes, there is that Bell Curve, but we need many, many Bell Curves to cover all the different ways people can be extraordinary. No form of extraordinariness is more valuable than another, so there is no need to feel put down, or to try and bring down other people.

This is where my previous post about talking comes in. I knew from the start my boys were extraordinary (in fact, I knew they would be before they were even conceived!)... But one didn't speak until very late. I also know this has no bearing on intelligence. Therefore when I say another one of my children spoke from very early on, I'm not saying he was more intelligent than his brother. I am, however, still very interest in why some children speak very early and others don't, what motivates some children in this way, and others not?

As well as this, I was mulling over why when one parents shares their children's achievements, other parents chafe at the bit to come back with their own tales of brilliance in their children (not least of all, ME)... These things fascinate me. I don't think it's about competing in it's truest sense, it's more about parents bursting with pride about their own child, and wanting to share the love, LOL.

Gosh, see this is why I didn't post my last post on this topic... It became long an rambly and circular, just like this one...

Needless to say (but I will anyway), this is a topic I dwell on a lot. My self-esteem has long pivoted on my intelligence (hell, I'm not a supermodel, and I'm not the most charming person out there either, so this is what I've got to make me special, LOL), but it has also been my biggest esteem buster because I've long been afraid that maybe the thing I base my self-esteem on is just a mirage... Like I said before, I don't want my children growing up with this "issue", so I'm trying to work through it...

Comments

Leah said…
I really enjoyed this post :)

I also tests really well but it hasn't paid off in areas you'd traditionally recognise as ones where intelligence would be a benefit. At least you have completed higher learning saying you are a smarty pants, after my excellent VCE result I haven't been able to hang in at Uni (yet!).

Steve is also pretty switched on, tho his IQ is slightly lower than mine ;) But I think that's because the kind of maths tested for in an IQ test is well within the scope of my brain's special competency, as I think intuitively for "real world" maths where he does that slower, but he also has a greater natural ability for more theoretical maths. In "how things work" and physical intelligence he would wipe the floor with me, he is especially gifted in skillful physical stuff. My low intelligence here completely baffles and infuriates him as I break things and do stuff 'wrong' and ask silly questions :) And then when it comes to verbal and emotional intelligence, well he's a Neanderthal LOL

So with this "high intelligence" in different arenas you have to admit we are primed to mate and produce brilliant offspring :D

I think she will be pretty similar to us, smart enough that she knows she's smart and other kids in school know she's smart, but not smart enough for it to particularly affect her life path. So far her special competency seems to be for drawing which is not unusual in our family, and I also think she has a good handle on the numbers.

I've had regular "my child is singularly brilliant" balloon popping from the get go because her similar aged but slightly older cousin is pretty ace at that stuff we take as signs of intelligence in children. She may well be smarter! Which I have to admit is something I would need to take time to assimilate LOL

My relationship to smartness is a bit different than what you describe yours as. I was expected to achieve some stuff I haven't because of it but I think that was a much later expectation long after my relationship to my intelligence had formed. I think my parents brought me up to take pleasure in using my mind as well as the label of being smart ... like I knew I was "good" at reading when at an age where skill levels vary greater, but primarily reading was about enjoying a book, so being good at it was kind of secondary. I was always being taught stuff at home and had maths stuff really integrated whenever it was possible - basically they would have been fabulous "natural learning" parents as it never felt stilted or like I was being tested, and I only recognise in retrospect how they were doing it deliberately. I hope I do that for Audrey, I think I do. Luckily she has them as well!

I like hearing about other kid's special achievement or abilities, because I find differences and similarities interesting I guess. I do think sometimes parents extrapolate from it too much. I think that intelligence is less of a determining factor in people's journeys than some other traits such as having a passion, an opportunity, perseverance or dedication, among others.

I also wonder if the average IQ has changed and 100 no longer represents average? I think early childhood is so important for building neural pathways for skills that are IQ tested. So I wonder how children benefit being brought up by parents who have experienced formal learning and a higher quality or richness of life in general. Many of the people I know seem switched on to me.

Anyway, a good subject to think about :)
HipbubbyMama said…
Interesting! See my IQ is around the 113-15 mark, so i feel completely awed by people such as yourself Sif! Although my intelligence is *slightly* above average,(I thought average was anything between 100-110?) I've struggled my whole life with being "average" at everything. Except maths which I'm downright dismal at! My inability to do even simple maths is what brings my score right down-perhaps that's just me making excuses though! I am not an intellectual; many of my family are, and I've always felt inferior. I think I take more after my mum's side though, who are a mix of great business people and artists. I haven't really flourished though,perhaps until now when i finally know what my career path is to be due to my own sense of inherent inferiority.

Fark this is turning into a bloody therapy session so I'll stop my self pitying rambings right there :D

Oh wrt my kids-they ARE brilliant!! Liam will be a gifted mathemetician and communicator-a rare combination, meaning like my dad he will be good in administrative roles also. Sienna will be an artist of some kind-she will stomp down anyone who gets in her path to fame and glory!! :)
Sif said…
Leah, yes, I often wonder if the average of 100 isn´t outdated as well, but then I think also that like minded people tend to hang together - for stimulus, rofl - as so it´s just that I´m sorrounded by above average intelligent people and their offspring...

Gosh, I really hoping I´m a little bit like your parents with the natural learning thing! I hope I´m able to pass on the enjoy of doing something over the achievement of doing something!

Jayne, LOL, you´re well above average, and I can see your intelligence in your 'works'. I can´t wait to see what all our kids end up doing with their lives - I´m thinking there are going to be a number of artistic types! I can also completely see how Liam would be like your dad wrt maths and communications!
Stitch Sista said…
LOL Sif...I am a little bit obsessed myself! Although I oscillate b/w thinking I'm really stupid and then sometimes 'getting' something and thinking why doesn't anyone else 'get this'?

My biggest issue with anything is perserverence and dedication/discipline. Intelligence alone hasn't done much for me, just made me lazy and basically under achieve...so even though I too LOVE when I can pick something out my kids have done and reassure myself "oh they really ARE brilliant", at the same time I don't want to make a fuss over that and am focussing much more on effort.

Which is funny b/c we used to get marks for effort on our reports and I never paid much attention them, but I've seen time and time again that a dedicated somewhat intelligent person will achieve over and above an undisciplined above average intelligent person...if that makes sense.

Also musing on this and the intelligence of children, I *do* wonder the effects of attachment parents in facilitating brilliance b/c the child's resources aren't spent coping with emotional abandonement etc and they therefore may be able to spend more time taking in knowledge. Now this isn't something I've read...just thinking outloud.

FWIW I scored 127 on a freebie test and I think I have scored a little higher previously (years ago) but not while fak yk...pmsl.

It's a nice number but it doesn't really make me feel smart...to me the greatest measure of intelligence is striving to know more, be more, show more compassion, constantly grow as a person and never take for granted what you may have previously believed...

(Oh and a quick brag while we're here...my 14 mo old is taking herself to the potty for wees and poos ON HER OWN UNPROMPTED, UNASSISTED...OK so maybe it doesn't make her a genius, but in mama's eyes it's GOLD!)
casso said…
You know I think intelligence is a huge burden. Especially with how we all define 'success'. I have been tested a *lot* but I don't think anyone needs to know my score. Because intelligence is really only worth being measured for other people's purposes, never for the interests of the person being tested.

Look around you - in society measures of 'success' such as wealth (of which you have written previously) and fame are found in people like Eddie Maguire and Richard Branson and Russell Crowe (just three randoms that spring to mind). Now I would not call any of these people intelligent. Yet they are 'successful'.

Intelligence precludes traditional definitions of success in a way, because if you are intelligent you analyse. If you analyse you investigate. If you analyse you come up with ideas. But those ideas then need investigating. I find that intelligence is therefore a merry-go-round of action/inaction if that makes sense. Most intelligent people I know are still living in share houses because they are too busy dealing with other things to focus on getting their 'life' stuff together.

The 'my kid is great' stuff - well that doesn't really interest me cos it seems like basic darwinism to me. ;o) Must adore and revere my child above all others (but of course it's easy to do that with Harry cos she is so suprerior...LOL!!!!!!) .

Will write a longer post soon but just about to go and have some dinner. This topic also fascinates me! :o)

Love Cass
Sif said…
Oh, oh, oh!!! I don't know about Russell Crowe, and though I REALLY DON"T LIKE Eddie Magurie, I have actually don't doubt he'd do well on an IQ test (arrogance and intelligence aren't mutually exclusive, though they're not as prevelent as many would like to think, imo), BUT Richard Branson, now he IS intelligent... I actually suspect many entrepreneurs (sp?) are, but I know RB is intelligent - ok, so he himself doesn't believe in IQ tests and has a fairly low opinion of the academics who come up with them, but truly, he has an interpersonal intelligence that is really quite awesome, imo. But there you go, it's not an intelligence that is measured on IQ tests...

Yes, ITA on the Darwinian nature of the "my kid is great" stuff :)!
Bin said…
Your blog is always so thought provoking, in a good way :)

I don't think I've ever done an IQ test, not that I recall anyway. I've never had to do one and I think I'm a bit scared it might come out really low and prove me as a fraud...

Am I the only one who doesn't think my kid is a genius? I do wonder sometimes and wonder if there is something wrong with me that I really think he's pretty average. Of course I also don't think there's anything wrong with that and am perfectly happy for him to be pretty average. I mean I know he has his talents too, like with sport, but I think everybody has talent somewhere or another... Interesting...
Sif said…
LOL, maybe you are??? I don't think being average is bad, in soooooo many ways I'm pretty average myself, and so are my kids - which I suppose fit in with the idea of talents (which might be another expression of intelligence)... I have a talent for writing, expressing myself in writing (not necessarily in person, lol)... I'm not at all physically talented, or socially talented, or artistically talented. I have no musical talent, or mathematical talent.

So, yeah, there is nothing wrong with average, but I suppose I'm saying there is also nothing wrong with being above average in different ways, and yet many people feel they need to find something wrong with being above average because they equate above average with superior, and so in relation feel inferiour. Above average doesn't mean more valuable. Just as average doest me less valuable.
Stitch Sista said…
See now I just feel like a twit putting my IQ score b/c honestly I do think it means *nothing* to me, but it proves my point Sif that many of us are as obsessed with proving our intelligence. Now to me if I was intelligent in a way I wanted to be, then I wouldn't have to prove it to anyone yk...(it's a life's work that one...)

Anyway Belinda just wanted to come back and say my comments re: the kids were somewhat tongue in cheek. There are some things that I think Finn for example is definitely above average, but OMG do I ever wish that kid could JUMP. I mean he is 3 years old and can't jump?? lol. B/c yk sport can be a big thing in determining popularity etc at school, and I worry that he'll be like me and always picked last for team sports...

So anyway I do definitely agree that we all have something special we can do/offer.

I think the bottom line of wanting to build up our kids is just like good PR. We want our kids to do well, and we want others to see them doing well, b/c we equate that with a better chance at being a 'success' at life. And we all want our kids to be a success. Now how you define success is up to you, but for me, bottomline, I honestly do not care what my kids do as long as they are happy.
casso said…
Sorry, just to come back in and write some more on this. A lot of what is wrong with IQ tests is that they are given to us as children in order to define where we sit in an environment comprised of tests (ie: school).

So if you do really well on THIS test then you are expected to do really well on lots of other kinds of tests. But then we grow up. And move into a different environment where there are NO tests! And those of us who did well on tests now find we have no way of measuring whether we're doing 'well' or not and those of us who resisted and disliked tests are rejoicing we no longer have them. I imagine that for this reason the importance of 'emotional intelligence' or social ability comes to the fore as a factor to discern between the two groups.

I just find school such a false environment for deciding who will be 'successful' or not. Mainly because it is so removed from how the rest of society operates. For example the intense praise driven "support" (in inverted commas because I don't believe it is supportive in any way) of school definitely doesn't exist in the workforce.

IQ is just one way of deciding who is streamed how for the relief of teachers (who need it! the system demands WAAAYYYY too much of teachers). And there has been so much work refuting IQ tests and what they represent that I really think that work has to be taken into consideration in this discussion, it can't just be dismissed out of hand because we want to focus on how important IQ is to our sense of self. If our sense of self is defined by a flawed process, then how can we decide what our 'self' is? It's a process of externalisation that isn't healthy for anyone because it negates so much and belittles the focus as well (ie: if you ARE intelligent then getting a high IQ score doesn't prove much except that you are good at IQ tests, just as much as getting a low score just proves that you are bad at THAT TEST, not that you are not 'intelligent').

Ok this still isn't focusing my point in any way! Hmmm...it woul dbe a much better discussion to have in person I think. Oh - without children around! :o) So you can talk without interruptions of "Mama! Mama!" every three seconds. :o)

And just as a last point I do think this preoccupation of proving intelligence is momre prevalent amongst arts-based groups. I feel that scientce-based groups of people just feel more confident in their 'intelligence' because society believes that the sciences is a valid end point for 'intelligent' people.

Ok, enough blathering from me. Interesting to see how people repsond to this. Nice to have a reason to use my brain again! :o)

Love Cass
Sif said…
First, Rach, if you´re a twit, then I´m a twit and Jayne´s a twit - And Jayne, I am NOT saying you're a twit, because I don't think *I'm* a twit at all...

Cass, I totally agree that IQ tests do not reflect the truth about IQ, other than that people who do well on IQ tests can do well on those kinds of test. IQ tests measure a certain kind of intelligence, but I do believe that measure more than just the ability to do THAT test. Otherwise people would only do well on particular tests, and not on IQ tests generally.

What IQ tests show is the ability to think in PARTICULAR ways, and to be able to do so through PARTICULAR modes, at a PARTICULAR range of speed. While that is a fairly narrow set of variables, they are still valid variables, imo.

Of course, this is my opinion because I happen to do well on these kinds of tests. I might not feel this way if I didn't do well. I might not even feel this way if I did do well, but I was concerned about how not doing well impacts on others self-esteem. Of course, that is me saying it doesn't concern me how others feel when they don't do well, but that's because if I didn't do well, I would simply believe that IQ test weren't testing the area in which I'm brilliant, ys?

I realise that how intelligent I am or am not shouldn't really matter. The reality is, it matters to me, and the whole concept of what intelligence is and how it is measured and why it is measured, intrigues me because it has so deeply affected my life, I guess.

I know AK would have a lot to say about this. I would probably be a person he would use as an example of how detrimental testing and praise is on children. I was so often punished for just being who I am. Then my parents discovered that about 1/3 of my brain is missing and I should have been a vegetable, so then they believe I'm fairly exceptional, but instead of just being happy they hold this exceptionality over my head as a benchmark to reach for...

In a way, this has meant I haven't used my disadvantage (being legally blind) as a crutch (though in some cases I have, for example when it comes to go into the workforce, LOL), but it also means I'm fairly obsessed with the idea of being exceptional. Even if I was very much "average" on all kinds of tests, and in life in general (which for the most part I am, actually), I will still always be exceptional simply because, according to science, I shouldn't be able to walk or talk at all...

It's funny though, just generally speaking, that discussion on intelligence IS so thought provoking, an IS such a topic of contention, and interest to people; whether you believe in the power of IQ testing or you believe it's a big con set to divide the population into neat little strata.

I think that says something basic about the human condition - this need to discuss and have a position on the intelligence debate - this is what differentiates us from the chimps, LOL... I find it all very stimulating!!!
Stitch Sista said…
lol Sif, just to be clear...I don't think either you or Jayne are twits either...just that *I* am, because I have worked at trying to transcend that need to prove myself - but obviously fail dismally...

Good discussion...
Sif said…
LOL, I knew you didn't mean we were twits :). And on the transcending... You and me both! It's a process, we're trying to undo over thirty years (gods, I hope I didn't just age you) of conditioning...
casso said…
Oh dear Rach and Jayne and Sif - just because I didn't tell everyone my score doesn't mean I hold hudgment over those o fyou who did!! :o) Wow, truly not. I hope Sif knows I'm telling the truth here, although you haven't met me irl I am hoping you know me well enough to at least know that. ;o)

And as for IQ test...well, we'll just agree to disagree on that deal. I just don't think those are particularly valid parameters on which to measure someone's intelligence.

I also agree that if your parents swung between thinking you weren't smart to thinking you were exceptional that the pressures of that would be detrimental to producing a sense of self removed from that definition. Jeepers, it would have to be nearly impossible! :o) That paerntal conditioning is just so strong. I'm hoping like hell that I'm not going to screw Harry over too.

Love Cass
Sif said…
Cass, I certainly didn't feel in any way judged by you. Telling other people your IQ score when you don't believe in the value of an IQ score really wouldn't make much sense, so I didn't think anything of you not telling your score, LOL...
HipbubbyMama said…
rofl I told my IQ score to demonstrate how lowly it is and how insanely, boringly average I am!!! I think I'm intelligent, but not in an obvious, intellectual way. If I was worried about being judged on it I wouldn't have posted it :D

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