Standardizing smart

Emily Siff, Staff Writer

IQ tests, grades, standardized testing, and more, people have built constructs to tell us whether or not we meet the standards. The funny thing that people seem to forget when spouting their IQ is that we created this standard. It is inherently limited, if not flawed, because it measures a specific skill set under specific conditions decided on by a specific group of people. And, as these tests always remind us, no one is perfect.

Sometimes we broaden our horizons and say, ‘Well, there are two types of smart: school smart and street smart,’ but it’s not often we go beyond this allegedly expanded, but still seriously narrow, definition. It seems more like ‘school smart’ implies you naturally do well in the educational system and ‘street smart’ implies you can resourcefully or intuitively handle things that life throws at you.

But if you’re street smart, shouldn’t you be able to figure out a way to work with the system in order to come across as school smart?

And if you’re school smart and apparently able to retain, organize, and apply all that information that’s dropped on students on a daily basis, shouldn’t you also be able to apply that knowledge and understanding to life ouScreen Shot 2015-02-22 at 2.43.26 PMtside the classroom? The differentiation is beginning to blur a little here. It would probably take someone extremely smart to fit every single person into the category of either ‘school smart,’ ‘street smart,’ or ‘not smart’ and convincingly support and justify this.

Here’s the radical theory: intelligence as we know it either doesn’t exist or is irrelevant. It is the factors that lead people to claim someone is ‘smart’ that are usually the more relevant traits.

If you can adapt to any environment, whether it is school or a foreign country, you’re smart. If you can’t, whatever. It’s not your
thing. If there is something you love, if you have a passion that you are pursuing, you’re smart. If you see things that other people don’t see (and I can guarantee that we all see something on a daily basis that everyone else missed), you’re smart. If you ask questions, you’re smart. If you know when to listen, you’re smart. If you have no idea who you are and just feel like you’re running through life in a sort of half-confused daze, you’re smart for continuing to run. The best times to persevere are when you have absolutely no idea why you’re persevering in the first place –and choose to do it anyway.

To rap this up, we can’t just define an entire person as smart or stupid because they lack specific traits. Instead of looking at what each individual does not have (because, let’s face it: we all don’t have something), we should start looking at what each individual does possess. When you look at what’s there, not what’s lacking, every person seems, and is, in fact, very smart. So if your physics grade last week was a little lower than you were hoping, remember that it is really just a test, not a measure of your intellect.

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