"Everybody is a genius. But, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it'll spend its whole life believing that it is stupid."
In this quote, Albert Einstein is implying that there are different types of learners who possess a vast array of strong suits. So, when the American school system only rewards one type of learner and glorifies a few selective strengths, those who don't fit into the mold of the 'perfect student' will grow up thinking they are less intelligent and inferior to their honor roll peers.
When you attend a typical high school or college, your classwork usually involves lecture-based lessons where you are asked to retain as much information as efficiently as possible. This task requires vast attention spans, good memorization skills and the ability to catch on to details quickly. At some point, however, we began to equate these specific skills with intelligence. So, if you're a quick learner, only then will you receive an A on a test, a gold star from your teacher, the approval of your parents and the societal label of "smart."
If you still aren't convinced that the school system favors these types of people, let's take a look at the national standardized tests that every student is required to take. The PSAT, ACT and SAT are all multiple-choice question exams that once again reward quick retention and the ability to absorb facts speedily.
However, according to researcher Howard Gardner, there are actually many forms of intelligence people tend to overlook. His "Theory of Multiple Intelligences" claims that every human being possesses vast degrees of a set of nine "intelligences," Unfortunately, the American school system only tests and rewards those who have high levels of "logical-mathematical intelligence," completely forgetting others, including spatial intelligence (good at drawing, reading maps or graphics), interpersonal intelligence (good at reading and responding to the emotions of others) or musical intelligence (good at producing rhythm, pitch and expression).
I'm very fortunate that the school system is suited to my type of learning. I can memorize facts very quickly and remember them all the way up until I turn in my test. So, while this trait gives me A's, that doesn't make me smarter than my classmate who can more fully understand the concepts found in textbooks, but just has difficulty remembering specific terms. That doesn't make me more intelligent than the person who surpasses me in their critical thinking skills or creativity. Yet, through society's lens, people like me are "smarter."
Let's not forget that Thomas Edison, inventor of the lightbulb, was taken out of schooling for being poor at math and being unable to concentrate. Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple Inc., never received a g.p.a. higher than 2.7. Albert Einstein himself was told he would be a failure in life by a teacher.
It's time we realize that there are many forms of intelligence and stop praising and prioritizing only those whose test scores surpass others. Let's remember that intelligence and worth go beyond the classroom, and everyone possesses an unbelievable amount of intellect. It's time to start understanding the value that every form of intelligence has and start giving those who possess these different areas of intellect the recognition they deserve.