SMNR03 - Freshman Seminar - Professor Chocos

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Zizhen Lian
February 5, 2011
First Year Seminar – Homework #3
People never stop thinking the definition and the importance of intelligence.
People even think about it before the word “intelligence” come out. Nowadays, many
scientists and philosophers are still studying about intelligence. Some of them think
intelligence is something can be measured by a specific factor; some of them think
intelligence is not something can be tested, but the comprehensive ability of a person.
Howard Gardner is also one of them. His theory leads people to think of what makes
people intelligent.
Gardner believes that traditional intelligence tests which tests mostly of the ability
of answering logical questions cannot be a standard of human cognitive competence.
They are “only an indifferent predictor of performance in a profession after school” as he
says in his article. In my life, there are so much more than many times that I was praised
as a smart kid. In home, when I completed my homework perfectly, like answering the
question about reaction happened when ethanol and acetic acid are mixed and heated, I
was praised as a smart kid. More similar as standard the answer is, smarter I was praised.
In school, when my teacher talks about my English score, they always say “Since you can
do well in science classes, you are a smart kid. Why don’t you use your intelligence to
study English?” These examples are all about the stereotype of intelligence and smart in
general sense. People think intelligence means how smart a person is and can be
measured by how well he does in school, especially the science part. However, that
understanding is the most wrong understanding of intelligence.
Gardner also believes that the real intelligence should be measured by the
problem solving abilities. In real life, we sometimes face some situation that textbook
never tells us. For example, I faced a situation that half of the telephone stops working
after I did some change in the telephone and internet system. That situation is very
complex. There are almost twenty lines in a box, some of them are for internet and some
of them are for telephones, some of them need connect to others and some of them divide
to two at the end. The textbook never tells people how to face this kind of situation, so
people need resolve it with the knowledge outside the book. Actually, I did use a
knowledge I learnt from textbook. It is a scientific research method called controlling
variables method. This method makes the result easy to analyze through reducing number
of variables in an experiment. So, I just tried to figure out the use of one line and check
whether it worked then did the same thing to next line until I found the one had problem.
In this case, I feel myself smart even nobody found and praised me, because I resolved a
problem, not the problem in test or textbook, a real problem. So, as what Gardner’s
theory tells people, the problem resolving abilities are the real intelligence.
The real intelligences are not given. It’s not the score shows on test, not even how
“smart” a person is. It is how do people face a problem and how can they resolve it. The
praise form others are not equal with intelligence, but the proud made by yourself.
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