It's Time To Admit 'Natural' Intelligence An Outdated Idea

It's Time To Admit 'Natural' Intelligence An Outdated Idea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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20 Simple Changes That Would Actually Make Students Go To Class

The college student's classroom Bill of Rights.

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Students, do you ever get the urge to grade your professor on how they taught their class? Do you ever want to email them a list of everything they did wrong in the semester? Well, here's some advice to all professors about what they can do to make classes better. If you're a student, share it and include your favorite points on course feedback surveys. If you're a professor, please consider doing these to make your class more enjoyable and engaging for everyone.

Let us use laptops in class

I know laptops can be distracting if not used properly, but as a professor who is not my high school teacher, it is not your responsibility to make sure I'm not distracted in class. I'm paying thousands of dollars to take this class, and I'm responsible for getting the most out of it. And sometimes, the way I can get the most out of your class is by taking notes on my computer because it's a lot faster than writing it out. Also #savethetrees

Give us at least a week to get our books

I know that I can look up the books for the class before the first day. However, those books are really expensive, so I'm never going to buy them before the first class because I need to ask you if I can buy a cheaper version. Give it a week to come in. You can even scan the first chapter, so we can still do the homework.

Put the schedule on the syllabus

When you give your class the whole schedule ahead of time, it means that I'll actually plan my schedule around your assignments. That means fewer vacations before I have a paper due.

Put the assignment sheets on the syllabus

When I know the assignment a couple weeks before it's due, I can manage my time more effectively. Also, you posting the prompt for the paper a couple days before it's due isn't helping anybody.

Teach your TA how to grade

Everyone has had a TA who thinks they're the greatest thing since sliced bread. They'll tear your assignments apart even in a 101 class. Everyone has also had TAs who don't care and give everyone 100%. If you have multiple TAs, they should all be grading the same way so that some people aren't penalized for having a hard grader. Give your grading TAs a rubric so that they'll grade a little more appropriately.

Don't make homework due right after break

It's called a "break" for a reason.

Curve grades

If the average grade is a C or lower on an assignment, then the problem probably wasn't the students. It was your teaching. Try to understand common mistakes and how you can prevent that in the future, but don't give your students a bad grade for something that wasn't their fault.

Actually be in your office during office hours

What's the point of giving us those hours if you don't even show up? Send an email out if you won't be in your office during your regular hours.

Email back promptly

Students usually have a lot going on, so they will inevitably put things off until the last minute. Understand that and check your email often (because we have to check ours every five minutes, too).

Answer all the questions in an email, not just one

You can't pick and choose what part of an email you should respond to. Read the whole thing and answer all the questions in the email.

Stop telling people that they can come talk to you after class if they have questions

I have 10 minutes to walk from this class across campus to my next class. I can't wait in a line of students to talk to you. Give more options for times to ask questions.

Just cancel class the day before break

You're not an idiot. No one is going to come, and I know you want that day off just as much as we do. At least make attendance optional or extra credit.

Leave comments that explain why we got a grade

Getting a grade back on an assignment gives me an idea of how I did on the assignment, but it tells me nothing about what I did wrong. I need feedback if I'm ever going to improve.

Leave positive feedback, too

When you're telling me what I can do better, let me know what I did well, too. That way, I can be sure to do that again in the future.

Grade things promptly

I know you have a lot to grade and grading takes longer when you give a lot of feedback, but when the time it takes to grade is twice as long as the time I had to complete the assignment, that's ridiculous.

Set a date for when you'll have things graded

If I have to have deadlines, you should, too. That's all I'm saying.

Set our deadline for when you'll actually start grading the assignment

There's no point in forcing us to have an assignment finished on Monday if you're not going to even look at it until Thursday.

Set a late assignments policy

And “no late assignments accepted" is not a policy. I know that we need to learn how to meet deadlines, but as someone who gets overwhelmed and stressed to the point of paralysis at certain points in the semester, I really appreciate even the smallest partial credit on late assignments.

Set an absence policy

And “students must attend every class" is not a policy. Jobs have a set amount of personal days and sick days, so classes should, too. I use my skip days to see more of my family or to see the doctor when I'm sick.

Be understanding

I know being a professor is stressful, so I'm willing to accept things when you mess up sometimes. But I expect you to be understanding with me in exchange.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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What Is Really Wrong With The Lori Loughlin Scandal?

This scandal has really caused a debate on multiple platforms on whether or not justice will be given to the rich and the famous.

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Last week, news came out with a report that actress, Lori Loughlin, along with other important lawyers and doctors paid or cheated their way for their children to attend prestigious universities. So, what is really wrong with this scandal? Surely, the primary thing is that she considered herself at an advantage to paying $500,000 to the University of Southern California for both of her daughters to be accepted there. Due to both of her daughters' academic situations, the girls would not have been accepted as their grades meet below average qualifications. However, because of this bribery, they were put on as recruits for the university's crew team and accepted into the college as athletes.

These girls took away opportunities from other hardworking students who possibly deserved to be accepted into the university. Athletes who have trained for years and years were not put on the crew team because of the bribe. The girls, however, were allowed entrance to this elite school without ever having to compete in crew to be accepted. Students who have studied long hours and tried their hardest are being unjustly rejected because they can't pay their way in. Meanwhile, in one of Olivia Jade's videos, she complained, "I don't really care about school". She only wanted to go because of parties and friends as she states earlier in the video. Also, these universities aren't really considered credible to the fact that they have partaken in bribery. This produces a rippling effect that affects those who actually worked hard to get into USC or any other school. It causes people to question whether it is reputable in the admissions process.

Also, with Lori Loughlin, it seems as if there will be no harsh charges brought up against her. With her money, she was released on bail which cost $1 million. Many seem to believe that there will be almost no jail time at all for this crime because of the fact that she is rich and famous. That is something to be considering as this scandal continues to shape itself into a wake-up call from America's elite to the public.

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