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Environment Develops Intelligence

It's kind of tragic that, in American culture at least, "book smarts" has fused together with the term "intelligence."  I feel that public awareness of the differences between terms has slowly been increasing these past few years.  But old habits die hard.

"Book smarts" implies an ability to memorize information and regurgitate facts.  It is unfortunate that our public school system relies so heavily on this term since it usually has very little to do with the challenges of post-school life.

Intelligence, on the other hand, has to do with one's ability to apply learned information to different situations.  An intelligent person is one who is able to perceive information, retain it as knowledge and then later apply that information to an environment.

I think that the most interesting thing about intelligence is that good genes alone will not determine the resulting human.  From what most studies have shown, environment must be there to develop natural intelligence.  Culture has the biggest impact on cognitive development, though research has shown that no one culture produces more intelligent individuals than another.

If you think about what this means from a learning perspective, the implications are huge.  It means that contrary to the popular notion that there are "smart kids" and "dumb kids," a child's lot in life is not set in stone.  Intelligence levels can change, even through adulthood.

Shinichi Suzuki was lightyears ahead of his time by introducing this concept that "every child can learn."  He turned out to be exactly right.  He didn't care about producing conservatory bound musicians, he just wanted to use music to help shape a child's life.  Even if a child chooses to eventually discontinue lessons, the shaping has still taken place.


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