Ralph Allen's final report on a tormented continent

Why both sides will lose the white-black struggle for Africa

July 1 1961
Ralph Allen's final report on a tormented continent

Why both sides will lose the white-black struggle for Africa

July 1 1961


Believe it or not, they do measure brains


Creative children may show their skill in completion tests like this, yet run up a low rating on the rest of the IQ test.

WHEN IT COMES TO PREDICTING a child's success in life it must often seem to parents that the most scientific tool anyone’s come up with is still the old rhyme beginning, “Monday’s child is fair of face ...”

For example, one long-term study shows that fifteen hundred of the brightest schoolkids in California grew up to be fifteen hundred pretty bright adults — but there wasn't an authentic genius among them. On the other hand, a retrospective study of four hundred towering world figures, including Picasso, Khrushchov and Charles Lindbergh, indicates that almost all of them were indifferent students. They disliked teachers, routine and conformity and they were hard to discipline, sloppy and inaccurate. As a boy, Winston Churchill took three full terms to get out of the lowest grade at Harrow. Yet a famous child prodigy, William Sidis, son of a brilliant Harvard-trained psychologist, grew up to bungle careers in both teaching and writing; he finally landed a $23-a-week job with a streetcar company and died in obscurity, the achievement of his life an incredible collection of streetcar transfers.

But these examples, so comforting to those of us who suspect we may be a bit stupid, are actually misleading — almost as misleading as the opposite illusion of the personnel “expert.” who thinks he can pigeonhole everybody with the help of a questionnaire and an IBM machine. The fact is that within a reasonable margin of error you can predict a child's academic capacity and that, if other things are anywhere near equal, academic capacity does bear a close relation to the general capacity that brings success in life.

The late Dr. Lewis Temían of Stanford University. co-author of Genetic Studies of Genius, was the man who carried out the above-mentioned survey of fifteen hundred children. He started it in 1921. when he himself was in his forties, and continued it until he died five years ago at the age of seventy-nine—still in constant touch with ninety-five percent of his "children.” who by then of course were mostly parents themselves.

They were all bright children, officially classified as "superior" with intelligence quotients of 140 or more. Temían showed, by his detailed reports on them over thirty-five years, that the superior child grows up to become the superior adult, far ahead of the general population in intellectual ability, scholastic accomplishment and vocational achievement. When it comes to

problems like personality maladjustment, insanity, delinquency, alcoholism and homosexuality, he emerges better than most. His marriage is as happy as most marriages, and his divorce rate no higher than that of other Americans his age. His child is likely to have a high IQ — average for the whole group is 132.7.

As was to be expected, most of Terman’s gifted boys, and many of his girls, have gone into the professions. Seventy-seven are listed in American Men of Science, thirty-three in Who’s Who in America, and three have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Dozens are national figures and ten are known internationally. Terman’s bright little girls have mostly married and settled down to raise families, but their working members include professors. lawyers, doctors, scientists, novelists and poets. Their publications include five novels, five volumes of poetry, thirty-two technical and professional books, fifty short stories, four plays, 150 essays and critiques and more than 200 scientific papers. And the girls have taken out five patents.


What are the signs of above-average intelligence that parents can watch for in their children? Some answers to that question emerged from other studies by Dr. Temían. In 1947 he made a careful inquiry into the background of forty-seven men and thirty-four women who had shown, in the test of actual experience, remarkably high intelligence and general capacity.

He found that the age at which they had started to walk and talk and the age at which they attained puberty was not significantly different from that of the average child. What was different was their precocity in learning to read (far ahead of the average child) and their ability to pick up reading skills without any formal teaching. In another study, of 661 bright children. Temían found that almost half had learned to read before they started school: 20 percent before they were five. 6 percent before four. 1.6 percent before three. One little girl, who grew up to earn a PhD and teach in a state university, read almost as well at the age of two as most little girls do at the end of grade one.

Other early indications of superior intelligence, as noted by the parents of the bright youngsters, included quick understanding, insatiable curiosity, extensive information, retentive memory and a large vocabulary. One small

boy had conversed in


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Some talents just can’t be measured by IQ tests: mechanical ability, for one thing, or creativity

such erudite fashion that his speech was practically unintelligible to his classmates until they were in university.

For most parents the first outside confirmation that their child is exceptionally smart, that he’s just normal, or that he’s below normal comes when he starts school and meets an IQ test. The IQ test is the only device yet evolved as some sort of objective measure of a child’s brightness or "brains.” And it's around the test's meaning, and its limitations, that most parents’ confusion—and the experts’ controversy—swirls.

The IQ test is defined in the Dictionary of Education as: "The most commonly used device for expressing level of mental development in relationship to chronological age: obtained by dividing the mental age (as measured by a general intelligence test) by the chronological age, and multiplying by 100.” ,

A Toronto psychologist who works with young people describes the origin of measured intelligence this way: "IQ Jests were invented by a Frenchman naffig^ Alfred Binet in 1905, when the ragamuffins of Paris were being admitted töf-The new public schools and they neeiiomta quick way of predicting which voinVjwljrs were trainable. They worked, and they still work darned well in predicting academic success.”

It’s generally accepted that if a youngster has an IQ of 90 to I 10 he's of normal or average intelligence; if above 130, of superior intelligence: above 140. “very superior.” The highest recorded IQ, according to newspaper reports, was 230higher than Einstein’s—and belonged to

a seven-vear-old New York lad who was a mathematical whiz. (When reporters came to question and stare, the prodigy told them. "I cannot account for the desire on the part of the nation’s press to publicize what they refer to as my intellectual feats.”)

In one respect, though. Terman's studies of the high IQ arc curiously revealing: in spite of their intelligence, inventiveness and literary output, not one truly great creative artist has emerged from this hand-picked group. Just before his death Temían remarked wistfully. "Genius is rare, and this is the only major field in which the achievement of our group is limited.”

This is one major criticism of IQ tests as a measure of potential: that creative children have a special kind of intelligence that the tests ignore. According to Paul Witty, an American psychologist, the content of the intelligence test is lacking in situations that disclose originality or creativity and it doesn’t attempt to measure abilities in music, art or other special areas. Special mechanical abilities, or an early mathematical talent — neither of which need be linked with high general intelligence — can be overlooked. Some talents simply aren't measurable — like that of Minou Drouet of France, the sensitive little poet whose volumes of verse won her a place in the learned Society of Authors, Composers und Music Publishers at the age of eight.

In fact, recent experiments with almost five hundred young people suggest that the creative child and the child of high IQ are indeed two different types. Drs.

Jacob Getzels and Philip Jackson, in studying two groups of students at the University of Chicago, have discovered that students who rated in the top twenty percent in IQ tests but not in the top twenty percent in tests for creativity were "convergent” types—that is. they sought right answers, desired to please their teachers and get high marks on examination, and tried to develop qualities they felt would lead to success in later life.

The other group of students, who rated in the top twenty percent on creative tests but not in IQ tests, were "divergent” —they took off from a stimulus, allowed their imagination free rein, had a rich fantasy life and a somewhat sardonic sense of humor, and were attracted to careers promising adventure and even risk.

At least one Canadian educator. Dr. Samuel Laycock, suggests that parents don't realize that reading, writing, spelling and computing skills are only means to an end, and that they are forcing teachers to develop the convergent pupil, who studies hard and gets good marks but possesses no real curiosity and little critical ability. He says. "We need creative people for leadership in medicine, statecraft, art. music and literature. We need them to solve national political, health, and welfare problems, and we need them in science for our very survival.”

A second serious objection to IQ tests is the growing suspicion that they’re loaded in favor of the child from the high socio-economic background.

For instance, a question in one test requires a knowledge of the word "sonata.” Recently a U. S. sociologist. Dr. Allison Davis, gave this question to matched groups of students from different socio-economic levels. He found that 78 percent of those from the higher group got it right, compared with only 20 percent from the lower group.

When he gave the question: Symphony is to composer as book is to (paper, scalptor, author, musician, man), 81 percent of the higher-class students got it right, but only 52 percent of the lower class. Then he couched the same mental problem in more familiar terms: Baker goes with bread as carpenter goes with (saw, house, spoon, nail, man). Fifty percent of both groups gave right answers. In fact Davis found that by including or avoiding terms, concepts and situations familiar to middle-class environments, but relatively unfamiliar to lower-class environments, he could alter scores on some so-called objective tests virtually at will.

Some educators suggest that in assessing IQ. ten points should be added for a child from a deprived area and ten points subtracted from one who has enjoyed a more cultured background. And lately there’s concern that certain long-established “characteristics of the gifted”—like advanced physical maturity and the precocious use of language — may just be environmental characteristics of a higher social class.

The third main criticism of the IQ as a yardstick is that it can change.

In England, when a number of orphans were removed from institutions and placed in happier surroundings, their IQs rose significantly.

In Ohio, at the Fels Research Institute for the Study of Human Development, psychologists have tested a large group of youngsters and found that a quarter increased their IQ score by 18 to 57 points as they became more self-reliant.

Withdrawn children are often known to be highly intelligent, but it shows up infrequently on routine tests since they are usually so remote that they can’t (or won’t) communicate their thoughts. Dr. Mary Northway of the Institute of Child

Study in Toronto recalls one little boy whose rating soared from 77 to 115 over a four-year period as he became a healthier child. She explains. "You can't gel a high performance from a low capacity, but you can get a poor performance from a high capacity if something is blocking response.”

One extraordinary illustration is the case of Jeannette, reported by a Victoria psychologist.

By the time Jeannette was IVi she had spent a year and a half in a Children’s Aid reception home, two years in foster homes, two months in hospital (diagnosis: mentally disturbed) and six months in another foster home. She lied, stole, had no friends, was defiant at school and submissive at home. A group intelligence test when she was eight indicated that she was dull normal. An individual Stanford-Binet test rated her similarly low. at 83. Then she was adopted by a sympa-

thetic couple w'ith a professional background. As she gained trust in their love she began to change. Today, at twelve, she no longer lies and steals, she is beginning to show' affection, she has one or two friends, her school marks are all As and Bs.

And her Stanford-Binet rating is 125, just under the figure of 130 that the provincial Department of Education considers the mark of a gifted child.

There is a final variable, impossible either to measure or to ignore. Dr. Edgar A. Doll, a well-known American psychologist. accounts for it as "the three other IQs — Inner Quirks. Inner Qualities and Inner Quest." Dr. Bruce Quarrington. an eminent Canadian psychologist, calls it "motivation” and says, "Motivation is the character and intensity of the individual's needs. It looms large in everything a child does, and differences in motivation can make you guess wrong." Quarrington adds, "Parents themselves are part of their child's motivation structure because their attitudes and actions affect their child.”

No one really knows how drive—the will to excel—starts. Some say it's simply a function of the adrenal glands; some attribute it to thyroid activity; others maintain that many highly motivated children have at least one parent who is driving and over-ambitious for recognition.

However it arises, and whatever it is, even the brightest child must have some of it to achieve his full potential.

It’s awareness of all the imponderables that underlies the widespread objections of educators to telling children’s IQ scores. In Canada they are generally a

deep, dark secret. Dr. Mary North way holds that an exact IQ rating is important only if a child is being pressed to overshoot the mark, or if he's known to be bright but isn't achieving. Otherwise she believes there’s no sense in having a lot of people running around w'ith meaningless figures in their heads. Most teachers resort to such awkward generalities as "Mary is a bright child” or "Mary appears to encounter certain difficulties in the learning field.”

But there are educators who believe you should be told your child’s IQ. They suggest that it can help you to understand him better and plan more intelligently for his future.

Sometimes a parent doesn’t recognize a bright child. A few years ago. for instance. a mother who had been a teacher before marriage moved to another province and enrolled her boy in grade seven. Alfred was rather a slow, dull boy, she told the principal. He had never shown any interest in school and wanted to leave as soon as she’d let him. Given his first IQ test. Alfred astonished her by scoring “very superior.” As her attitude toward him changed, his own self-respect rose: he began to take an interest in schoolwork and after several months of hard slugging attained a position close to the top of his class.

And it can be just as important for a parent to know his child’s limitations.

Not long ago an unhappy couple brought their seven-year-old daughter, Susie, to Toronto’s Mental Health Clinic. She’d been a bright, happy baby and had loved kindergarten, they explained, but she’d failed grade one and, though she was repeating the grade, was still having trouble. Her parents had inaugurated long homework sessions every night after supper, but they invariably ended with the father shouting and the mother hysterical. Now Susie was wetting her bed like a baby and bursting into tears if anybody looked at her.

"How’s she ever going to get through university and be a doctor if she can’t even get through grade one?” her parents demanded.

Margaret Burns, director of casework at the clinic, says. “It wasn’t easy for us to tell Susie’s parents, after a battery of tests, that she was what we call dull normal and didn’t have the grey matter to tackle a postgraduate course in medicine.

. . . The discovery of her limited intelligence was the end of all their dreams.”

But after weeks of sympathetic interviews, Susie’s parents are realizing that she’s doing the best she can. and mustn’t be pushed beyond her mental capacity. "Susie’s really very good with her hands, and she has infinite patience.” her mother was able to remark recently. "Do you think she might make a good dressmaker some day?”

A parent who knows his child’s capabilities. whether or not they include superior intelligence, can always help him to realize them. Here are some of the things you can do:

• Establish a warm and good emotional climate in which he can flourish cheerfully and without setback.

• Widen his experiences. Take him places, show him things, talk to him. But if his intelligence is normal or limited don’t expect the same reactions as you’d get from an intensely curious child.

• Don’t compare him with other children, especially his brothers and sisters.

• Be realistic. Try to steer him into a career that fits in with his needs, whether it’s the one you’d like for him or not.

• Above all. love him and value him for what he is. yk