Sunday, August 1, 2010


It’s always interesting to me to see how people see you. I have heard from two girls who have stayed at our house recently in the past 6 months that they think that I feel they are not intelligent or on par or smart. What’s funny about that is that they’re implying I see myself as smart. Anyone who knows me really well (this is a test) knows I don’t see myself as smart inasmuch as it is a naturally innate distinguishing characteristic. If you mean smart in that I learned something in school that many others didn’t study or learn or I gathered some capability through that learning, then yes. But time and time again, I become assured and reassured that the large differences in intelligence between people are not innate and due to many outside influences such as environment and parents and schooling and neighborhood.

Art teachers have told me that all people can draw. All children draw at the same level. It’s only around 2nd grade or so where they start to diverge and some lose the ability to see things in the proper way to draw or maybe the others gain it.

Drama teachers have told me that all people can act. All children can act, and at a certain age we begin to diverge where someone retain this ability and others lose it or stop exercising that part of the mind.

Intelligence like reading seems to be learned. Remember that we gravitate to things that make us feel like a loser. My cousin’s son was not a good reader. He struggled, but my cousin-in-law (my cousin’s wife) worked on reading with him. . . . Hard. She forced him to sit down and practice and practice and practice. He HATED it. But she got through it. Now he’s an excellent reader, and guess what. He LOVES it! You can’t stop him from reading. My cousin, the husband, said that he wished someone had done that with him. To this day, it affected him and he doesn’t like to read. He thought it was innate, some are good readers and some are not. Ha!

This pattern I’ve seen again and again. I’ve seen it with learning languages (there are many ways to learn languages by the way, not just the traditional translational approach in classes). I’ve seen it with mathematics. I’ve seen it with science. I’ve seen it everywhere. The biggest proof to me was teaching middle and high school. The kids were merely differentiated not by ability but by wholes in knowledge that persisted and were never cleared up. I have never had a not even one student who had mastered all previous pre-requisite classes leading to this one and had mastered every lesson this year before today who misunderstood and could not learn the material for today. It’s cumulative. Some get so far behind, aren’t encouraged or strengthened or pushed or taught---and we grow up thinking there is a difference.

Now something my art teacher told me is that it doesn’t mean that we’ll all be Rembrandts. She can only teach people to see so that they draw well. It won’t make you a Picasso but it will allow you to bring out the artist in you, the scientist in you, the nurse or accountant or brain surgeon (or whatever you find hard) in you.

So it’s interesting how this notion of differences that are insurmountable and innate affect how people see each other. It reminded me, when listening to these two girls about the heart of a girl, the heart of a woman.

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