Intelligence is a funny old thing. Respected, revered, tested and used to put children into artificial groups in school. If you put the word intelligence into any search engine, you’ll get over 140,000,000 entries. Your IQ is a badge of honour and it might even get you on TV. For all the interest in the word though, it’s amazing how often it’s misunderstood. Take the question, "How intelligent are you?". It’s one of the most meaningless questions you can ask. At 6? According to whom? Doing what?
It’s wrong to think that someone is either intelligent or not. Intelligence is something that can be developed and grown and indeed, the fantastic work of Carol Dweck on how you develop a Growth Mindset is key to this debate. It’s a framework we use often in our courses for children, encouraging them all of the time to embrace the words "not yet". "I can’t do Maths", we hear 7-year-olds say. Our response is always the same. “You can’t do Maths yet…”
Instead of asking how intelligent someone is, try changing the word order and asking them, "How are you intelligent?" It immediately reframes the entire issue.
Intelligence comes in many forms: social, emotional, musical, academic, spatial, visual, interpersonal. I could go on. The real journey for your children to take as early as they can is to explore the full spectrum of their types of intelligence. By doing so, they give themselves the best chance of building a life full of passion and purpose and making a real difference.
Children are brilliantly and amazingly unique and they all have different types of intelligence. In my business, we try to help them develop their interests and their passions no matter what they are. The more you can help your child understand that intelligence comes in many forms, the more confident they will become in expressing and celebrating their own unique abilities.
So, the next time anyone asks, "How intelligent are they?", please give them my number and warn them that they are about to get a lesson in why those words are in a very dangerous and damaging order.
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