Articles

MAYBE YOUR CHILD'S A GENIUS

So, don’t worry if his I.Q. test rates him below normal. Some educationists say the way the tests are often given tea leaves could be a better guide

FRED BODSWORTH October 1 1950
Articles

MAYBE YOUR CHILD'S A GENIUS

So, don’t worry if his I.Q. test rates him below normal. Some educationists say the way the tests are often given tea leaves could be a better guide

FRED BODSWORTH October 1 1950

MAYBE YOUR CHILD'S A GENIUS

So, don’t worry if his I.Q. test rates him below normal. Some educationists say the way the tests are often given tea leaves could be a better guide

FRED BODSWORTH

IF YOUR child takes an intelligence test at school and you find out he has a subnormal I.Q. don’t let it bother you. At the same time, if he is above normal don’t start preening. Because the I.Q., once regarded as an infallible indicator to a child’s learning ability, is highly suspect.

About 500,000 Canadian school children get I.Q. tests every year so that our educationists can measure their general intelligence and plan their education around the findings. About 100,000

usually are found to be below average, 300,000 are normal, the other 100,000 above average. What does this mean?

Dr. James L. Mursell, of New York’s Columbia University, one of tbe world’s leading I.Q. experts, has plenty of respect for the I.Q. test when properly carried out and plenty of outspoken criticism for the large number of teachers who use it inexpertly. He says: “Far too much of it is on the level of palm reading and horoscopes. The public has been

TEST YOUR OWN I.Q.

LI ERE are 10 questions similar to those which appear in intelligence ■ * tests for students of high-school age. They are reprinted from "You and Your Future," by M. D. Parmenter, published by the vocational guidance centre of the University of Toronto. Allow four minutes exactly to answer the questions. Answers are on page 46.

1. Which word does not belong in this list? —1 mile, 2 rod, 3 acre, 4 inch, 5 yard.

2. What number comes next in the following series? — 5, 12, 19, 26, 33.

3. KICK is to FOOT as throw is to — 1 catch, 2 leg, 3 ball, 4 hand, 5 hit.

4. The opposite of oblivious is — 1 clear, 2 necessary, 3 obscure, 4 mindful, 5 intelligent.

5. Deletenous means the same as — 1 harmful, 2 doleful, 3 offensive, 4 desirable.

6. Trees usually crows wings in nests their tall build. If one word were omitted from this sentence the others could be arranged to form a sentence. Print the first letter of this word.

7. The proverb "A watched pot never boils" means — 1 Trouble comes when you least expect it, 2 It is hard to perform your best before spectators, 3 Impatience makes the time seem longer, 4 Proper precautions will prevent disaster, 5 Rogues under observation behave well.

8. My birthday is on May 15 and I am 5 days older than Jim. If May 17 is on Wednesday, Jim's birthday is on — 1 Thursday, 2 Friday, 3 Saturday, 4 Sunday, 5 Monday.

9. ABCDEFGHIJKLMN OPQRSTUVWXYZ. If the first letter and every third succeeding letter were omitted from the alphabet, which letter would then stand ninth from the beginning? Print it.

1 0. 0 is to □ as O is to ( 1 ) □, (2) A , (3) O (4) O , (5) O.

regaled with ballyhoo about the accuracy with which science can measure mentality. Often tea leaves would be a safer guide.”

But, while a handful of education authorities, psychologists and vocational guidance experts are beginning to learn this, practically all parents and hundreds of Canadian schoolteachers still look up to the I.Q. as an unerring mirror of a child’s future. This results in many children being held back unnecessarily in school on the strength of I.Q.s inexpertly arrived at or inexpertly interpreted.

The experts warn that the I.Q. structure has two serious loopholes:

1. A child’s score can be affected by inexpert marking or administration, his mood at the time of the test, and even what he had for breakfast.

2. Even if accurate the I.Q. is only one clue in many factors such as personality, energy and work habits which determine success at school or in a job. (One of Canada’s most successful executives has an I.Q. of under 90—normal is 100.)

Because these points are not understood things like this often happen:

Harold, aged 9, moved from Detroit to an Ontario city. His new school principal couldn’t decide what grade he should enter. Finally an I.Q. test was decided upon.

Harold was shy, frightened by bis new surroundings and teachers. The tost revealed an I.Q. of 80, so he was put back to third grade. He soon mastered his work and his teacher recommended that he be promoted to fourth. The principal took another look at Harold’s I.Q. then refused. When he did get into fourth grade the teacher there also suggested in mid-term that Harold was ready for promotion. The principal !>egan to doubt that I.Q. Harold was given another test and his I.Q. this time turned out to be 120. He lost two years of schooling because an I.Q. gave a false alarm.

How serious is the

Continued on page 46

Continued from page 24

problem? Canadian teachers are using intelligence tests more widely every year. The University of Toronto vocational guidance centre sends out 300,000 to 400,000 I.Q. papers each year. Thousands more are supplied by the University of Saskatchewan, University of British Columbia, and U. S. distributors.

There is no official control over distribution of the tests. All are used at the discretion of teachers or at the direction of local school authorities. A few teachers seek advice from the vocational guidance branches of the provincial departments of education and are warned of the dangers and limitations, but the majority breeze ahead with the tests and feel they are being modern and scientific.

Says M. D. Parmenter, director of Toronto University vocational guidance centre: “We try to make sure

that only qualified teachers are supplied with tests, but it isn’t always possible. Parents are frequently alarmed unnecessarily and students suffer when tests get in the hands of people who base too much on them.”

And Dr. John A. Long, head of the Ontario College of Education’s department of educational research: “The

I.Q. is an invaluable guide in handling students. But it means little by itself; other information about the student must be considered at the same time. Parents and teachers must be made to understand its limitations. A good deal of the tests are managed so carelessly they do more harm than good.”

What is an intelligence test and how is the I.Q. worked out?

There are several hundred different tests (see sample on page 24) with from 50 to 200 quick questions slanted for different ages. Some are aimed at evaluating character, others seek to measure special aptitudes, some are specially designed to trap cheaters. One of the latter variety has answers printed on the back of the question sheet and the child is warned not to peek—the answers are wrong. Then there are the performance tests which require the student to do something rather than simply answer questions: assemble jigsaw pictures, arrange blocks in a certain pattern.

The tests are standardized to produce average scores (intelligence quotients) for each age group. When a child’s mental age—as revealed by an I.Q. test—is equal to his actual age he is said to be “normal” and scores 100. Thus a six-year-old with a mental age of 10 has an I.Q. of 10/6 or 166, very high.

The U. S. Army was responsible for first popularizing I.Q. tests when in 1917 it began using a test to discover the mental quality of recruit groups. It wasn’t long before the idea of measuring a child’s intelligence early

ANSWERS TO

TEST YOUR OWN I.Q.

(Questioni on page 241

1, acre; 2, 40; 3, hand; 4, mindful; 5, harmful; 6, W; 7, No. 3; 8, Saturday; 9, N; 10, No. 3.

If you got eight or more correct in four minutes your score on a complete I.Q. lest would probably be high; sí« to eight correct is overage; under six, well, don’t worry, you could still be a genius.

then planning his education around the result spread rapidly. Some enthusiasts went so far as to say that the I.Q. told at the age of four what a child could know at 16.

About 10 years ago education researchers first began to doubt the value of the tests. They found that a child’s personal I.Q. could change plenty. In one project covering 1,000 children, 14 I.Q.s in two-and-a-half years changed 40 to 50 points--the difference between feeble-mindedness and genius.

Recent studies have now proved that intelligence is not decided solely by heredity—environment is also very important. Most convincing proof of this is the study of orphaned identical twins raised in different foster homes. Identical twins inherit the same mental capacities, yet if one twin is raised in an intellectual home and the other in a backward home, the twin from the better home will have a much higher I.Q. by adolescence.

Baker Goes With Bread

The accuracy of any intelligence test depends on all the children tested having had equal opportunity to learn the information required. So the following question doesn’t make sense: “Symphony is to composer as book is to . paper, sculptor, author, musician?” Many children from average homes can’t even make a start at the question simply because they are not aware of the relationship of symphony and composer. Asked this actual question only 52% of a group of children from lower-income homes answered “author.” But when the question was changed to “Baker goes with bread as carpenter goes with spoon, pen, saw, easel?” the average of the same children shot up.

The really brilliant, creative child is definitely penalized by the I.Q. test. High intelligence reveals itself in a capacity for producing distinctly original ideas and a child so blessed finds ready-made questions with a single acceptable answer an obstacle to thought rather than a stimulator.

A common error is inexpert administering of tests. A test must be given in exactly the same standard manner at all times, otherwise the I.Q.s derived may be miles off. The instructions must be in the same wording every time, timing allotments rigidly observed. (A watch with second hand is a must.)

Frequently illness, fatigue, nervousness or other emotional disturbance in a student will cause a poor showing in the tests. Some adolescents become self-conscious when they realize their “brains are being read.”

A vocational guidance supervisor once tested a girl whom he regarded above normal in intelligence, discovered that her I.Q. was 85. He suggested tactfully that the university course she contemplated might be more than she could handle. Then he asked casually how she had liked the test.

“I couldn’t think that morning,” she

In a second test her I.Q. turned out to be 120.

Even items in the tests themselves have sometimes a damaging emotional effect. One contained the following sentence: “Police found the body of a girl cut into 18 pieces. It is believed she killed herself.” The student was asked to point out the absurdity. Some children would be doing well up to this question, then fail badly on everything after it. The sentence was so disturbing it spoiled their concentration.

A bright boy moved to a new school and.was given an I.Q. test. He had never seen a test before and to him most of the questions appeared trivial and silly. (“Floor is to ceiling as ground is to earth, sky, hill, grass?”) He thought a joke was being played on him and gave foolish replies. He remained two months in a class for awkward pupils before the testing error was discovered. This inclination to take the tests as a joke is not uncommon among superior students with a show-off tendency.

Energy, desire for achievement, good work habits, concentrating power and persistence can frequently nullify a low I.Q. Similarly, lack of these qualities may handicap a student with a high I.Q. and he will be a failure. Social attitude, leadership ability and a faculty for getting along with others are as important as intelligence in practically any field.

A 1947 survey at the University of New Brunswick showed that in 50%) of college failures something other than mental aptitude was responsible. U. S. studies of high I.Q. students reveal that usually 5% to 10% are below average in school work.

Fundamentally, however, the I.Q. is misleading because teachers untrained in psychological testing and uninformed parents take it that way. In a few Canadian schools with teachers who have taken courses in the proper administration and use of intelligence tests the I.Q. is doing a good job. In Ontario 900 out of about 23,000 teachers have taken such courses: a smaller percentage in other provinces.

An I.Q. test, properly administered, can sometimes indicate whether a retarded pupil is lazy or whether he needs instruction in a special class. It can be an important finger post for vocational guidance officers. With delinquents it can be of use, as high I.Q. delinquents must be handled differently from those below normal.

The I.Q. sometimes reveals emotional disturbances that might otherwise remain hidden. A boy aged 10, thought very backward at school, was found to have an I.Q. of 120. A psychologist discovered that when the boy was 3 a daughter was born in his family and the parents turned all their attention to the new child. The boy quickly discovered that when he was a good boy he got no attention; when he was bad he received plenty. And he liked it. ★