Chloe's Food for Thought: The Concept of Intelligence

I have found that intelligence is categorized far too often into one single type of intellectual mental capacity. At school, if someone were to ask a student to point out the ‘smart’ kids, it would be an easy task. Of course, the ‘smart’ kids would be the ones who are constantly receiving great grades, making the honor roll, participating avidly in class, and so on. Colleges and educators tend to value students who are as close as possible to perfection in regards to their schoolwork.

I believe that we are neglecting other equally important forms of intelligence that do exist in the world, beyond than the typical ‘school smarts.’ Sometimes I may be having a conversation with someone, and I find myself realizing how culturally aware and passionate that person is. I have a friend who can talk about poverty, racism, discrimination, and other social issues. She is so culturally aware about the world around her, but many subjects in school do not showcase her voice and potential in the way that they could. She may not have great grades in more logic-oriented classes such as science or math, but I have come to realize that grades are not a true measure of a person’s intelligence.

Similarly, many people struggle with the rigidity of school and the lack of imaginative learning. Some students are naturally good at school in the sense that they barely have to try to remember and understand the material. On the other hand, these very same people may not have the capacity to name the classic movies of the 20th century or to even describe who Marilyn Monroe was. This does not make them any less intelligent than someone who does know such things; it just makes them intelligent in a different way.

We often hear the term ‘street smart’ used to label people who have the experience and knowledge necessary to navigate life in the real world. Such knowledge is extremely valuable, in my opinion, and should not be discredited as a replacement for school intellectuality. Knowing how to handle a variety of situations and the entirety of a city’s nooks and loopholes is incredible.

Living in Boston, I have mastered a great amount of metro stations, bus lines, shortcuts, and tips to steer through the city. Intelligence is a word that I think of as having infinite meanings. I do not believe that an individual can be categorized as unintelligent by anyone, because there is always going to be something that makes the person stand out in a way that no one else can.

I think of myself as intelligent artistically; I prefer expressing my ideas through artwork or writing creatively, rather than having inflexible guidelines that I have to follow in my schoolwork. That does not mean I am incapable of performing successfully in school; it just means that some things come more inherently to me than others. Putting limits on what intelligence can or cannot be puts a limit on human capability, when we all should be reaching as high as life will take us.

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Article by Chloe, Teen volunteer