sigh … okay, I go again
I think there is a divide between those who were discriminated against and bullied and abused for being weird or “immature” or other things like that but were able to succeed academically and those who weren’t able to succeed academically and faced discrimination and bullying and abuse for being “stupid”.
For the first person, when they’re being constantly knocked down by some jerks, being able to say “well, I’m smarter than you” is really empowering and liberating. And I’m not advocating for taking that away from anyone who has it now, I’m not.
But where do the other kids go? The ones who can’t say “at least I’m smarter than you” because by every traditional definition of “smart”, they’re not. Their bullies are the smart ones.
In my experience, telling a kid who is not succeeding in school, that “well really you are smart. you’re a good artist and thinker and all these things”, doesn’t help. Because the kid knows, they feel like they’re being placated. Okay, you say I’m smart, but I know I’m not what really smart is. I can’t do what being really smart means. Sure, I’m good at those things but I’m still not like the kids who are really smart.
And that’s why I’m arguing that, going forward, if we continue to define intelligence by these specific, narrow things, people are going to get hurt by being told “you’re smart” with no other qualifier. The kids who can’t succeed in an academic environment, who are surrounded by this traditional idea of intelligence, aren’t going to believe you when you tell them they are, because in every other way they’re being told they aren’t. They’re going to lose out.
And the “smart” kids may be even worse off. Because what if one day they lose the skills that defined them as smart, or their other struggles suddenly outpace their intelligence? They really lose out, cause in one fell swoop they lose the thing that defined their worth.
So what I’m saying is, in the future, if we tell kids from the get-go, “intelligence isn’t something you are, it’s something you apply. to anything. and everyone has the ability to apply it to different things, because each of our brains have different blueprints, and no one thing is better than the other, and no one thing takes more or less intelligence,” then we’re going to be much better off.
Don’t get rid of the concept of intelligence, just get rid of how we conceptualize it. It’s not a trait, it’s a universal tool, applicable in different ways by different people.