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What is Intelligence?

A subtopic in the field of education I find especially interesting is the idea of "intelligence."  I love Howard Gardner's books on his theory of multiple intelligences.  Definitely worth a read if you have not already done so.

The word itself is commonly understood as being synonymous with "book smarts."  As in, someone who can regurgitate facts quickly and accurately must be deemed intelligent.  Furthermore, the intelligent children in the classroom are generally seen as those with the highest grades (read: test well).

This is not intelligence.

The literal definition for intelligence according to Merriam-Webster:

"The ability to learn or understand things or to deal with new or difficult situations."
This means that intelligence has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with tests an an ability to accurately determine the correct multiple choice question.  Those skills are a part of intelligence but not intelligence itself.

Intelligence is determined by our ability to react and adjust with less time.  And the beautiful thing that neuroscientists have discovered: repetitions make this faster.

Most most of modern history intelligence was an assumed thing.  A person either is or isn't intelligent.  But now researchers are finding more and more evidence that this isn't the case.  Not only is intelligence less clear cut than originally thought but it's also not a static concept.

This is a HUGE concept if you couple this with all the research done on music and the brain.  It seems practically every week there's a new article on how music affects children in a positive way.  But music doesn't just stop at learning the skills necessary to play an instrument beautifully.  In going through the process of learning an instrument, a student is becoming a more intelligent individual.

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Victor Wooten is an innovator, composer, arranger, producer, vocalist, and multiinstrumentalist. He has been called the greatest bass player in the world. He is a skilled naturalist and teacher, a published author, a magician, husband and father of four, and a five-time Grammy award winner.