It's Time To Admit 'Natural' Intelligence An Outdated Idea

It's Time To Admit 'Natural' Intelligence An Outdated Idea

It's not about how smart you are, but about how hard you work.
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Elementary school was a weird time. MAP tests, AR reading comprehension, PACT and PASS and virtually any other acronym you can think of for the standardized tests that ultimately distinguished whether or not you were considered relatively gifted. And, while in theory, this may or may not have prepared students for the rigorous curriculum of more challenging courses, I still have to ask: Is this really necessary at age 8?

Don't get me wrong, preparing kids with the highest quality education is what I'm here for... but it's also relatively difficult to decide who's "gifted and talented" and who's not.

Maybe I'm wrong, but with the rise of the gifted and talented curriculum in the early 2000s, came the plateau of the "honors kid burnout" in the 2010s.

Similar to the stigma of the participation trophy in kids sports, the establishment of a "more advanced curriculum" for students as young as 7 or 8 (I put that in quotations because, realistically, these courses were not significantly more advanced), in my opinion, unintentionally reinforced the idealized form of "natural intelligence".

Natural intelligence ultimately presents the idea that "smart" individuals should be able to learn or even simply have the knowledge, without the need to practice, memorize, or really study anything. You weren't considered "intelligent" if it took you more time to learn something, or you had to ask for help. Facts and memorization, intellect and intuition, came naturally and you either had it or you didn't.

This is problematic on multiple fronts.

The process of reaffirming elementary school students (again, this comes from my own personal experience and observation of those with similar experiences), and reinforcing the idea that they are "naturally" smart, gifted, or talented is great in ego-boosting throughout public school.

BUT.

Entering into an actually academically advanced environment, whether it be Advanced Placement courses, or Dual Enrollment, or even as far as into college, there becomes a problem.

Students that have been told throughout a vast majoring of their lives that they were naturally gifted with intelligence have very early in life placed a negative association with studying, working hard, or having difficulty with something.

Students that have gotten straight A's throughout middle and high school simply by glancing at notes before the exam or by using common sense are have already been conditioned to associate something as simple as making flashcards or asking a teacher for help with failure.

Natural intelligence, natural talent, and virtually any idea that individuals have to be born with a skill in order to be significantly gifted is more often than not, counterproductive.

Making the goal of public education something as one dimensional as letter grades, and conditioning students to view them as more of a ranking system than as a showcase of hard work, does more than just discourage morale. It encourages efficiency. It encourages academic dishonesty. It encourages getting an A by any means necessary because, for someone who has been defined as "naturally intelligent" most of their life, they have no room for disappointment.

Children, especially in this day and age, need to be conditioned to view hard work as honorable, as respectable, and in no way a weakness, or something to be ashamed of. There are no "August Rush"es in this reality, but there are more than enough "Rudy"s.

Teaching kids that it was their hard work and their dedication that really got them that grade, alter how they view more than just grades. Encouraging hard work, diligence, dedication, and even something as simple as effort goes farther than just academics. Kids that are more encouraged to take risks and think creatively become kids that are more willing to try, regardless of the outcome.

Because life isn't really a grading system, but a test of skills and attitude.

It's not how smart you are, but how hard you work.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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If You Wanna Be A Humanities Major, Know Your Worth

A call to arms or a sinking ship? How we should feel about being Humanities majors.
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In the wake of the tragic blows Stony Brook University has made against the Humanities departments, the overall sense of self and self-preservation within has been oceanic and more Byronic than ever. At moments it can feel like an opportunity for protest and community bonding, in others its reminiscent of being on a sinking ship.

We as Humanities majors can recognize our utility to society, that we are not all aspiring solely to be poets or artists, that there are myriad other career paths for us to follow and be just as successful as the deified STEMs, but with the stigma surrounding liberal arts, there is becoming less room for us in academia. The Modern Language Association (MLA) has reported that the full-time jobs in teaching English and foreign language has been steadily withering for the past five years with the number of job ads for tenure-track assistant professor of English positions declining from 879 in the 2007-08 year to 320 in 2016-17.

See also: Dear Stony Brook University, Stop Cutting Back Programs That Aren't 'STEM' Enough

The knee-jerk reaction to these numbers is the claim that society just isn’t valuing the critical thinking skills that the Humanities teach as much as they once did. It’s no question that it certainly feels this way. Most college-related websites are guilty of focusing their sights on increasing the volume of STEM majors. High school students bombard themselves with articles and lists stating the "The 10 Best College Majors For The Future" (which to no surprise at all does not list any Humanities field) to facilitate the responsibility of choosing a major that will supposedly "guarantee" a job or a high salary.

Sure, in modern society the amount of money needed for a comfortable lifestyle is increasing, and median salary numbers can be informative, but the more important variable for an individual’s future is the individual: their interest in the field, their success in it, their hard work, and their drive to reach the top and earn the salary they deserve.

In fear of becoming preachy, I’ll leave you with this. For all of my peers, predecessors, colleagues, and prospectives, we must hold down the fort. We are important for more than just learning how to write and communicate clearly.

Almost every question we ask ourselves is a question for the Humanities. When you want to know something more deeply, past empirical reasoning, that is a question for the Humanities. Politics, ethics, sociology, history, art, literature—these are the questions of the Humanities and they are all inherently valuable.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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31 Quotes for Theatre Majors

Wise words for the drama in your soul.
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Every theatre major is drawn towards two things: the human experience - or at the very least, the storytelling of it - and the movement from words on a page to life, especially on a stage.

Here's a series of quotes that speak to the gamut:


"I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being." - Thornton Wilder

"The further a society drifts from the truth the more it will hate those that speak it." - George Orwell

"The theatre was created to tell people the truth about life and the social situation." - Stella Adler

"When you ask me why I care so much, I wonder why you do not. When you ask me how I do so much, I wonder how you do not. When you ask me what I'm trying to prove, I wonder what you are not. You ask because you wonder, I wonder because you ask." -Ashley Owen Hill


"A theatre, a literature, an artistic expression that does not speak for its own time has no relevance." - Dario Fo

"I actually think that the most efficacious way of making a difference is to lead by example, and doing random acts of kindness is setting a very good example of how to behave in the world." - Misha Collins

"The theatre is a world in itself. The possibility for creating experiences that move people is increased many times over. In the end, the best stories are usually about a battle of good over evil - that has never changed." - Cat Stevens

"The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion." - Albert Camus

"Unless the theatre can ennoble you, make you a better person, you should flee from it." - Constantin Stanislavski

“The only way you can conquer me is through love and there I am gladly conquered.” - Bhagavad Gita

"A theatre is the most important sort of house in the world because that's where people are shown what they could be if they wanted and what they'd like to be if they dared to and what they really are." - Tove Jansson

"History shows us that the people who end up changing the world are always nuts, until they are right, and then they are geniuses." - John Eliot

"I like the ephemeral thing about theatre, every performance is like a ghost - it's there and then it's gone." - Maggie Smith

"The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what happens next." - Ursula K. Le Guin

"Great theatre is about challenging how we think and encouraging us to fantasize about a world we aspire to." - Willem Dafoe

“I promise I shall never give up, and that I’ll die yelling and laughing, and that until then I’ll rush around this world I insist is holy and pull at everyone’s lapel and make them confess to me and to all.”- Jack Kerouac

"Our stories come from our lives and from the playwright’s pen, the mind of the actor, the roles we create, the artistry of life itself and the quest for peace.” – Maya Angelou

"Oh we're a mess, poor humans, poor flesh—hybrids of angels and animals, dolls with diamonds stuffed inside them. We've been to the moon and we're still fighting over Jerusalem.
Let me tell you what I do know: I am more than one thing, and not all of those things are good. The truth is complicated. It’s two-toned, multi-vocal, bittersweet. I used to think that if I dug deep enough to discover something sad and ugly, I’d know it was something true. Now I’m trying to dig deeper.
I didn’t want to write these pages until there were no hard feelings, no sharp ones. I do not have that luxury. I am sad and angry and I want everyone to be alive again. I want more landmarks, less landmines." - Richard Siken

"People who believe they’ll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, learn it doesn’t work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you." - Neil Gaiman

"If you go looking for adventure, you usually find as much of it as you can manage. And it often happens that when you think it is ahead, it comes on you unexpectedly from behind." - J.R.R. Tolkien

"Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it." - George Bernard Shaw

"It's okay to fall down and lose your spark. Just make sure that when you get back up, you rise as the whole damn fire." - Collete Werden

“I am always doing things I can't do, that's how I get to do them.” - Pablo Picasso

"I don't want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me." - The Departed

“All the world’s a stage
And all the men and women merely players:
The have their exits and entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts.” - William Shakespeare


"Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak." - Audre Lorde

"Hardships often prepare ordinary people for extraordinary destiny." - C.S. Lewis

"We fear violence less than our own feelings. Personal, private, solitary pain is more terrifying than what anyone else can inflict." - Jim Morrison

“Never apologize for burning too brightly or collapsing into yourself every night. That is how galaxies are made.” - Tyler Kent White

“It matters not who you love, where you love, why you love, when you love or how you love, it matters only that you love.” - John Lennon

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