Saturday, 4 October 2014

MOOC: What Future for Education? Activity 2.1

This post is the for the required activity 2.1 in Coursera's massive online open course (MOOC) 'What Future for Education?' from London University's Institute of
What Future for Education MOOC

What you already know about intelligence. How do you know if someone is intelligent or not?
When someone mentions 'intelligence', often I assume they are using it to refer to someone's potential ability in academic. My ideas about intelligence have been greatly influenced by Carol Dweck's book Mindset, where she sets out her ideas about competency being based on practice and effort rather than innate ability. 
Nonetheless, there is still the idea that some people have a greater ability to learn than others, and classroom observations would initially support this theory. However, through my years of teaching I have come to realise it is perhaps better to think of the situation as some learners being better prepared for learning, rather than able or intelligent. This preparation could come from previous knowledge, understandings and skills and may be greatly affected by the opportunities and exposures they have had as a child. For example, a child who was read bed-time stories every night before they started school may be more likely to read independently and therefore have a larger vocabulary and interest in reading than a child who experienced no such stories.
In judging if a person is intelligent or not there are particular tests that might give an indication such as those that measure IQ, or the one used in my previous school, the CAT4 which claims to have "been developed to support schools in understanding pupils’ developed abilities and likely academic potential. Results from CAT4 can help in intervention, monitoring progress and setting targets for future attainment." However, I have seen the danger in such tests as students are immediately labelled as 'gifted', 'average', or even 'hopeless' in the context of particular departments' expectations for them. Therefore, I would prefer to refrain from making judgments on the intelligence of any given individual.

Do you consider yourself to be intelligent? Why? What is your evidence for this?
I consider myself to have the potential to learn anything I set my mind to, although some things will be more difficult for me. For example, anything in the realm of Maths or Physics is likely to be extremely challenging - perhaps to the point where I give up - as I have no recent background in either of these, and the number of complex concepts I would have to master in order to move forward would be high. Also, despite my fascination with the greater universe, I have limited motivation for really getting to grips with the obscure theories behind astrophysics or the like. I would have little to no knowledge of the key terms associated with these fields and would feel intimidated and unsure if asked questions on subjects related to this. 
By contrast, if I am given an unfamiliar piece of literature, I will probably feel confident in commenting upon it as I have been practising this skill since my schooldays, and can use the jargon of this area with ease. 
The idea of 'intelligence' would need to be clearly defined in a given context for me to be able to comment on whether or not the term fits me, although I suspect my tertiary-level 'Western' education and the fact I likely match the context in which these tests were produced would both put me at an advantage against others without these features in their background.

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