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Intelligence: Born or Made ?

Hellen Sweeny

We all want our kids to be smart and successful. We want them to excel in school and we strive to prepare them for the future. Our society values intelligence but many times in expense of other factors that form a child’s personality. Intelligence is a gift but can definitely be developed, advanced and cultivated.

Intelligence has been traditionally measured by IQ (intelligence Quotient), a number that is meant to determine how smart we are by determining our memory and analytical skills. Joseph Renzulli, one of the nation's leading experts on gifted education says that in the old days: "it was 129 you're out, 130 you're in". That was the crucial number where psychologists used to separate the “gifted” from the “non-gifted” children.

What has changed since then? Well, quite a lot! Lewis Terman, the Stanford professor who devised one of the most popular IQ tests concluded that: "Personality factors are extremely important determiners of achievement…” These personality factors include overall social and emotional confidence, combined with a drive to achieve. And this, combined with mathematical and artistic skills is something that can be developed.

Howard Gardner of Harvard University developed a concept of multiple intelligences in the early 1980s that has been influential in modern psychology ever since.

Joseph Renzulli, director of the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, is known for his controversial "three-ring" circle of giftedness: ability, creativity and task commitment. All of which stress external behaviors more than just innate giftedness.

For the above reasons and countless others, we deduce that we should not concentrate our efforts only in one area of development, be it mathematical, emotional, musical etc. We should strive to give our kids a complete all-round education that will enrich their lives and prepare them for a bright future.

A new term used to describe the new world of psychological discovery is called Emotional Intelligence. Renowned author, speaker and trainer Nicole MacKenzie, says: “Emotional Intelligence (often referred to as EI or sometimes EQ) is by far the single strongest indicator of future success”. In her astonishing book “Parenting rule #1: Mom has fun” guides us step by step to achieve true happiness and avoid the parenting pitfalls of emotional reaction and punishment.

Martha Stevens, a mother of five had similar goals. Her children are grown up now and have their own families but she wants to share with us all her secrets which come down to … “Educating the HEART”!

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