Are you intelligent?

This word is misused as much as education. Intelligence’s real meaning is being able to think and surprisingly enough education has exactly the same meaning. The common and mistaken belief is that intelligence is measured by a test and education consists of going to school and accepting and remembering what we have been taught, whether we want to or not.

The fact is that intelligence is the ability to work things out for ourselves from the moment we are born and the same is true of education. We come into the world knowing nothing, a huge advantage. We have a survival kit that enables us to pick up a language (or two or three), suck for food, cry when we need help and walk within the first few years. All parents have to do is pay attention by talking to us and feeding us.

All children are avid to learn. They alone know what interests them most. Therefore the richer the environment into which they have been born the sooner they will find out what interests them most. The best advice anyone could give to parents is to encourage them to do what they like best, and they all have preferences. Children want to get their own way and rightly so. They are small in a world of giants. They fight for their independence. They need help but the sooner they don’t need it the better. All the time they are adjusting to their family and the world around them.

I dislike the phrase ‘bringing up children’. They bring themselves up if they are allowed to. Of necessity since they are surrounded by dangers of which they know nothing, it is imperative that parents make certain rules to keep them safe and to help them to consider other people.

Observing parents who listen to their small children are astonished at how fast they learn. Here is an example of a small boy asking his mother for a drink.

“Mum, I want a drink. Will you make it jackwarm?” His mother was puzzled for a moment, then she realised what he said “Oh; you mean lukewarm.” The small boy had two friends called Jack and Luke.

Lukewarm was a new word for him. He couldn’t quite remember but he knew the first part was a boy’s name. This is a wonderful example of a child thinking logically. Making connections between very differet things is a sign of high intellegence. We were not surprised when he sailed through school and ended up with a degree in Oxford.

All too often adults laugh at a child making a ‘mistake’ and try to correct them. Stephen Pinker opines that this is a bad strategy, and I think he is right. It could be the beginning of shaking a child’s sense of self-confidence.