Intelligence and it's affect on culture is one of the scientific "unspeakables". It's just not politically correct to acknowledge the scale of smart to less-than-smart even though most people know that the I.Q. scale mean is 100--meaning that half the population is above this mark and half below.
I.Q. understanding is vital to me personally because my high-functioning autistic son is on the receiving end of different I.Q. analysis. The results mean everything for his classroom placement, curriculum choices and life-course. He has been pegged as everything from mentally retarded to above average depending on the testing situation and the assessment tool used. Guess where my husband and I view may son? Guess where the school puts him?
My mom sent me a series in the Wall Street Journal about I.Q. and future individual and societal impact of giftedness. Several great points were made including:
- Why must all kids go to college when only about 10-25% max of college students will benefit from this education?
- Why aren't the skilled trades more emphasized when a skilled worker can own his or her own business, make over one hundred thousand a year and have the satisfaction of creation?
- Why do employers look for a degree in jobs that don't need it? I wondered this myself when a friend told me that his construction company won't hire a foreman unless he has a college degree. My question was why?
- Why is so little invested in the gifted?
- Why aren't the gifted challenged more to show their areas of weakness introducing humility into their education? (This humility came for me in spades in chiropractic college. Biochemistry--the subject and the barely intelligible Egyptian teacher who taught it--nearly undid my future. I got a gentle-woman's "C" and was happy to receive it, thank you very much.)
- Why isn't the notion of obligation to those less intelligence-endowed introduced to gifted students? I'm not sure about this needing to be sanctioned. The Honor's Society in High School, the School Senate, and college elite social groups tend to emphasize community service. Well, at least mine did.
Family friends did just this with their daughter who had struggled through High School. She went to college, cried many tears of frustration and finally shared her dream of owning a hair salon. Guess what? They put her in beauty school and the rest is success history. They were wise enough to allow her to follow a path to success not to frustration.
When ten percent have I.Q.s above 125, which is generally considered the cut-off for success as a doctor, lawyer, CEO, engineer, etc., and 90% don't, two things must happen:
One, the 90% shouldn't be shamed for finding alternative educational opportunities. These alternatives (two year trade schools, trade certifications, etc.) should be encouraged. Employers should look for certifications instead of degrees. One of the benefits of the industrial revolution is that an average person got to participate in the creation of something great. Maybe a guy couldn't make a whole car, but he could turn a wrench and have the satisfaction of participating in creating something important and exciting. To me, home building (framing, foundation, dry-wallers, etc.) falls into this category. These people always whistle while they work. It's fun creating something and using a skill to do it.
Two, the 10% should be challenged far more and invested in heavily. I know a guy with an IQ easily over 160 who runs a metal-works plant. His boss is lucky to have such genius working for him for so little. Society, however, is missing out. He had a full-ride to a college out of high school, screwed up and got lost for a few years. Guys like him need to be found, educated and put to work applying their gifts. I'm not sure how this could be done, but I do wonder why a college willing to educate this man at one point, wouldn't give him another shot when he gets his act together.
I.Q. needs to come out of the cultural closet. America risks too much wasted talent, if it stays in there.