Where does IQ matter?

Where does IQ matter?

The world has learnt more about the human brain in the last 25 years than in all history. Developments in neuroscience are challenging the way we lead, engage with, and communicate with other human beings, and this is becoming increasingly important as the world becomes a more complex and interconnected place.

In the modern Australian classroom, even a basic understanding of neuroscience can shed light on how students learn, remember, and process information, enabling teachers to tailor their methods to diverse learning needs.

In particular, an understanding of IQ can help educators recognise that intelligence is multifaceted, going beyond traditional measures to include emotional, social, and practical intelligences. By integrating these insights into their practice, teachers can foster a more dynamic and supportive learning environment, potentially improving students’ learning outcomes and addressing individual student needs more effectively.

David Perkins – Professor Emeritus at Harvard Graduate School of Education – is one educator who has long studied the nature of thinking and intelligence. As co-director of Project Zero – a research project investigating human symbolic capacities and their development – Professor Perkins has sought how to better understand and nurture human potentials, such as learning, thinking, ethics, intelligence and creativity.

Where does IQ matter, and what else steps in?

Professor Perkins points out that while IQ correlates with performance, such as business success, and academic achievement, the correlation is often limited. This, he says, prompts educators to consider other facets of intelligence and their impact on learning and development.

“It’s a contributing factor, alongside dispositions, background, invested effort, deep knowledge and experience in the field or undertaking in question. It’s not the pivotal make-or-break factor; no measure I know about is,” Professor Perkins told The Educator.

“Perhaps the most dramatic single gap in what IQ tells us concerns open-mindedness and fairness in thinking.”

Professor Perkins said IQ and other measures of cognitive ability have practically no relationship to open-mindedness and fairness.

“People in general often behave in closed-minded ways, as is all too apparent in today’s world, and people high in cognitive ability turn out to be just as often closed-minded as those lower in cognitive ability, investing their ‘smarts’ in, for instance, more elaborate arguments on their favoured side of a matter,” he said.

“As to cultivating dispositions – including open-mindedness – culture is key. Educators should strive to create a culture of thoughtfulness in classrooms, a culture that expects and honours exploration, even-handed argument, innovation, and similar mindsets.”

Professor Perkins said such a culture “should figure somewhat in just about everything that goes on.”

“This includes the nature of discussions, the orientation of assignments, the ways topics are approached, how understandings of concepts are built, the degree of collaboration among learners on learning and examining topics.”