A recent news article says researchers believe that your problem solving skills aren’t really related to how “intelligent” you are. In fact, in a different study, even an eight-week-old puppy was able to solve a complicated puzzle.
Many children are very smart, and are able to quickly find solutions to difficult problems.
Childhood is the best time for us to learn about our world, so schools – and society– should let us try to solve more problems.
Ko Long-kiu, Maryknoll Fathers’ School
From the editor
Thank you for your letter, Long-kiu.
“Intelligence” tests are always a tricky thing. For example, in one study that showed wolves are smarter than dogs the two species had to pull the top off a plastic container to get to a treat. Eight of the 10 wolves managed it, but only one of 20 dogs that were tested managed to open the box.
But does that really mean wolves are smarter?
Maybe because life is more relaxed for dogs who are pets, they have left behind the need to get food at all costs. It might be more fair to see if wolves could be trained to herd sheep, the way border collies do, or if they could be trained to remember a certain number of words.
The same questions arise when we try to measure human intelligence. Early IQ tests were found to be cultural specific, full of things that Westerners related to easily, but were not as obvious to other cultures. And conversely things that were no-brainers in other cultures were not as obvious to Westerners.
The next thing we have to consider is what kind of intelligence we are looking for. Someone able to solve complex maths problems might not be, for instance, well suited for working at a busy construction site. So do we favour pure intelligence or “street smarts”?
Just like dogs, as we advance we spend less time worrying about where our food will come from and more time worrying about how to live the best life. It’s not just parents that are involved in this focus of intelligence, but our society is too. If you look at the way Hong Kong is built, there are few opportunities for deadly vehicle accidents. So people who drive in Hong Kong are able to glance at their phones, and even text and get away with it. In a place without these safety features, drivers would be more aware of what is going on around them and more cautious.
It’s a very interesting topic, and team YP would like to know what other readers think about it.