Other Free Encyclopedias » Social Issues Reference » Child Development Reference - Vol 4

Intelligence - Measuring Intelligence As A Comprehensive Process, Environmental And Genetic Influences On Intelligence, Low Intelligence Scores

children ability learning thinking

Intelligence is the ability to solve problems. It is also commonly referred to as practical sense or the ability to get along well in all sorts of situations. People cannot see, hear, touch, smell, or taste intelligence. On the other hand, the more they have, the better able they are to respond to things around them. Anyone interested in understanding intelligence will find many theories, definitions, and opinions available.

During the late nineteenth century, scientists were interested in the differences in human thinking abilities. Out of these interests evolved the need to distinguish between children who could learn in a school environment and those who could not. At the turn of the nineteenth century, Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon developed a set of questions that helped identify children who were having difficulty learning. This set of questions was later used in the United States by Lewis Terman of Stanford University and eventually became the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test. The main purpose for looking at intelligence is to be able to measure it; measuring thinking ability helps psychologists predict future learning of children and, if necessary, develop educational programs that will enhance learning.

In addition to general thinking ability, other definitions of intelligence describe the specific ways a child responds to problems. For example, Howard Gardner is interested in how children use different abilities to display intelligence. In particular, he says that children have mathematical, musical, interpersonal, linguistic, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, intrapersonal, and naturalistic intelligences. He theorizes that children have all these types of intelligence, but have more ability in one than the others. Theorist Daniel Goleman argues that general intelligence, measured by the traditional test, is not as useful in predicting success in life as the measurement of emotional intelligence. He suggests that abilities such as initiative, trustworthiness, self-confidence, and empathy are more important to consider than general intelligence. Therefore, until specific tests of these types of intelligence are developed, determining how much a child has of one type of intelligence is not possible.

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