Getting Personal: My Notions of Intelligence and Learning

30 Sep

Human intelligence has been one of the most debated topics in psychology. Until now, experts haven’t come up with conclusive answers to whether intelligence is innate or shaped by the environment. They also continue to argue about the ability of standardized tests to measure intelligence. This topic can be quite confusing, but having a firm grasp of the nature of human intelligence can greatly affect our perceptions about learning.

Having a Gift with Words



As a verbal learner, I’ve always been good at expressing my thoughts and ideas (both through speaking and writing). I even won several essay contests when I was still in high school. I vividly remember my high school teacher telling me that I have a gift with words. Back then, I knew that there was some truth to what he said. Everyone in my family writes pretty well, so it probably does “run in the blood.”


However, I eventually realized that intelligence is not just about genetics. I had the opportunity to enroll in several psychology courses, so I learned more about different studies proving that a person’s immediate environment also affects his or her intellectual potential.


Having acquired new knowledge about human intelligence, I tried to reassess whether my writing skills is merely a “gift” or the result of both genetics and the different learning environments I was exposed to. I remembered how I spent most of my time reading books instead of watching TV and how my mother often encouraged me to keep a journal of my own.


I began to realize how important my exposure to stimulating learning environments (I was fortunate enough to attend good schools and buy all the books I wanted) was, as well as the tons of writing practice I’ve had. Without these things, I guess I wouldn’t be as articulate as I am now.


Learning Environments and Gene Expression



For me, genetics and the environment both play a significant role in shaping human intelligence. While I have a fairly decent IQ score, I don’t think I would be that good in writing. No matter how gifted a person might seem, he won’t be able to realize his full potential if he isn’t exposed to stimulating learning environments. A person’s immediate environment can determine how his genes are expressed, just like one discovers his talent in music after repeatedly trying to play the guitar.


I guess the same thing goes for people with learning disabilities. Society judges a person’s intelligence based on how high one’s IQ score is. But if a person with learning disabilities enters a learning environment that understands his needs, there’s a big chance that he will succeed in a variety of intellectually challenging tasks. Given the right kind of education, he might even perform better than someone who clearly meets the society’s standards of intelligence.


There’s No Room for Arrogance



When it comes to learning, it’s important to understand that one’s IQ score does not entirely determine his ability to perform well in school. Numerous factors come into play—motivation, metacognition, and affect. Also, I believe that a person’s notions of intelligence can greatly affect the way he approaches learning.


For example, I have a fairly decent IQ score. But I know that I wouldn’t succeed academically if I get complacent and forget the importance of working hard towards my learning goals. Being arrogant (also what I call the “I’m smart, why bother?” attitude) just because you were able to score high in an IQ test will do you no good. No matter how innately intelligent you might seem, you have to work as hard as others if you really want to succeed in school and life in general.


One Response to “Getting Personal: My Notions of Intelligence and Learning”

  1. monetteabalos September 30, 2012 at 12:18 pm #

    Well stated classmate!

    IQ and EQ should be present to succeed in life.

    God bless.


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