I previously talked about how scores on an IQ test are developed, and what they mean mathematically. Now, I’ll look at what they can mean for individuals.
IQ could be described as the BMI of the mind. Although both numbers can provide useful information for a typical mind or body, they should still be regarded with caution especially in an atypical mind or body. BMI is near-useless for athletes, who will often score as overweight or obese due to their increased muscle mass. Similarly, IQ measurements may be helpful to understand a neurotypical person in a familiar situation, but they are flawed for people with neurodevelopmental disorders, or people who are unfamiliar with standardised testing.
3) IQ tests cannot always measure someone’s ability accurately. Health conditions and neurological differences result in people having uneven patterns of ability, which confuse IQ tests.
On the way to work, you stop for your usual coffee. As you walk through the door, 20,000 cups of coffee are laid out all across the room, covering the floor and tables. Somehow, you need to choose the one you’ll like best.
Tasting all 20,000 is impossible. So after trying a few, picking your favourite, and going on to work, you may not feel too satisfied with your chosen coffee. With so many options, there’s no way to know you chose the best- the very next cup could have been even better. (20,000 sounds absurdly large, but that’s fewer options than some big-name shops offer.)
During the day there are only more choices and decisions to make; from the best way to get your work done, to meetings, to the quickest way home. By the end of the day there probably isn’t much room left for thinking about anything difficult, such as starting that project you’ve been putting off or resisting the cake in the cupboard.
Although we hate not being able to make our own choices, it turns out that having too much choice is just as much of a problem. Having to make choices, major or minor, drains us. It leaves us less able to resist impulses or see through illogical options. Psychologists sensibly call this decision fatigue.
Most reality shows spark controversy, and Child Genius is no exception. Series finales are often followed by arguments that the show placed too much pressure on contestants, while the 2017 series was also interrupted by accusations of cheating parents.
Today I’m going to talk about another issue; how the competition and the programme portrays “intelligence” and “genius” in a one-dimensional way which reinforces misconceptions about intelligence.
A few months ago, I read and enjoyed Sam Kean’s The Tale of the Duelling Neurosurgeons. Thanks to that book, I figured out something interesting about how I understand sci-comm.
The principles I believe in when it comes to science and sci-comm, and the threads which run through both my psycholgical and scientific interests, weren’t created through my science or psychology education.
1) Cross-disciplinary connections – Science doesn’t work in a vacuum but is informed by art, humanities, politics, and religion.
2) Human history – Rather than being detached thinking agents, scientists are as human, flawed and biased as anyone else.
3) Accidents, serendipity and luck – “Failed” inventions, wrong beliefs and faulty discoveries can be as valuable, informative and powerful as “successful” history.
In the last 24 hours I’ve discovered two interesting articles in the Guardian, which together show one of the flaws I’ve noticed in education reform attempts.
The first article is a retrospective about how the Merseyside borough of Knowsley was failed by an attempt to innovate educationally and instead developed educational deficits so deep that it had to sacrifice its A-Level education entirely. The second article is an optimistic piece focusing on the XP school in Doncaster, which is adopting a project-based curriculum similar to sucessful schools in Finland.
The link here is that despite opposing perspectives, these articles are about the same subject; both the “Building Schools for the Future” program used in Knowsley and the project-based curriculum used at XP are technologically-updated retreads of the 1970’s Open Classroom movement (OCM). In the table below the left column describes the Knowsley schools (as written in the Guardian), while the right column describes Open Classrooms and their issues.
Theresa May’s mental health reform speech on Monday was the first time I’ve heard her say more than a soundbite, and also the first time I’ve heard her talk about anything other than Brexit, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.
At the opening of her speech, I wanted to support her. I wanted to believe she would say something genuinely meaningful and compassionate. I also hoped (perhaps naively) that she would make reference to the effect of austerity upon mental health. May is in a good place to acknowledge the negative impact of previous political choices, after all. While she is maintaining many of those choices, she didn’t instigate them. She has mostly inherited the bad decisions made by others, most obviously David Cameron, becoming essentially the country’s largest-scale supply teacher.
Initially, her opening discussion of the overt and covert injustices present today were impactful, leaving her actual reform strategies as arguably the weakest element of her speech. Similarly, while her view on reducing stigma (below) says all the “right” things, it does so without providing anything tangible or practical, or any awareness of where the Government themselves have been guilty of removing that attention and treatment.
This is following on from the previous blog about GCSE and A-level exams.
In the previous I mentioned how large numbers of students are failing the “traditional” subjects, such as English, Maths and Science. This has led to the construction of the new “English Bacc”, which is meant to track the number of students getting a good GCSE in English, Maths, Science, a humanity, and a language. News stories have also criticised the new Applied GCSE’s, and vocational subjects being worth up to 4 “traditional” GCSES.