Monday, December 6, 2010

How do YOU measure intelligence? (The “Tin-foil Standard” is my choice.)

So we all know there are kinds of intelligence. There is the traditional IQ test, but of course, everyone keeps talking about alternate measures of these things, since IQ alone doesn’t seem to be a big predictor of success and other relevant factors. I was reminded of this particularly recently as I was reading Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers (more on that to come!). Gladwell talks a lot about the discrepancy between IQ and success and has some very interesting things to say on the topic which I’ll come back to. But, in thinking about these things, it seems to me that there are a number of things to look for:

a) Interpersonal intelligence (“emotional” intelligence and so forth).

b) Creative intelligence (ability to use things for unexpected purposes).

c) Patience and work ethic (ability and willingness to take the time and care to do something right).

d) Intuition (a sensitivity to subtle things in the environment, whether that’s people or things) that allows for insights that others miss.

All these things are all important, and helping ourselves and our children develop our capacities in all these directions seems like a very worthy goal for parents. But sometimes, too, we want to have a sense of what kind of raw material we’re working with. When it comes to sheer, instinctive genius, I like to focus on the (seasonally appropriate) “tin foil standard.” It only works with very small children, but it clearly shows when there is greatness to come. The basic premises are these:

a) All children like candy

b) Many forms of candy come in tin foil

So….the smarter the child, the younger and more readily s/he recognizes that tin foil is something to be sought after and prized and, eventually consumed (though, hopefully, AFTER the removal of the foil itself). So what if tin foil is pretty and shiny and babies always try to eat things? If your baby tries to suck on a piece of tin foil at a very young age, s/he clearly has genius potential.

So: What’s the youngest age at which you’ve seen a kid go for a Twix bar? Or what’s your gold standard for intelligence? (Inquiring Mom wants to know…..)

Is this one precocious? Not sure yet.....

1 comment:

  1. Love it- and how he carefully weighs his options...butterfinger or peppermint patty. He has the peanut buttery one in his grasp- I knew my Godson was my kindred spirit!

    Note- Isaac discovered a foil wrapped chocolate in his stocking and proceeded to pop the entire thing in his mouth without unwrapping. Intelligent, perhaps...impatient, absolutely!