Friday, April 17, 2009

Raise the Nation's IQ?

This article from Nicholas Kristoff at the NYTimes discusses a book written by at (ahem) University of Michigan psychology professor Richard Nisbet. Anyone who is interested in education/academia/students and IQ, I suggest you read it.

For me the most interesting section was about telling middle school/high school students that a person's intelligence is malleable and expandable. This is in some (but not all) conflict with the genetic view of IQ, which has scientific support, but there is also support for education/experience increasing a person's IQ. For example, kids IQ goes down over summer break, but then returns to higher levels when school begins again (more reason for more schooling and smaller breaks). Either way, they found that students performed better, got better grades, and generally tried harder when told that they had the power to change their intelligence. In particular girls did better at math because they didn't have the excuse that "Girls don't get math." Instead they were thinking, if I am bad at this, then I can work hard and get better. Now, granted there will always be people who are naturally smarter, and people who are particularly better at one subject versus another, however, I just think that as a principle a you-can-do-whatever-you-put-your-mind-to-philosophy is a good standard to set.

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