• Jody Kussin

In Times Like These #11 3-25-2020

Expiration dates and Intellect

The expiration date on my sanity could be fast approaching. To ignore or not to ignore? I tend to ignore expiration dates on certain items…. toothpaste for instance – does it really ‘go bad?’ Also, salt. Seems to me that salt lasts across millions of years, so I do not throw it out even when the box indicates.

I have learned my lesson on other things though. For instance, do NOT ignore sunscreen deadlines – we did that once a few years back and then had lots of little kids (mostly mine, but perhaps also a niece…) break out in weird rashes which we initially also ignored - only later to be diagnosed by a laughing pediatrician friend who said you should ALWAYS adhere to dates on sunscreens. Live and learn.

Speaking of living and learning…now, as you literally become home schoolteachers and observant of each child’s approach to learning, it’s a good time to get to know ‘types of IQ.’ Why not? You’ve got tons of free time, right? (Just sitting around and eating Sees, are ya??) This may help you to not get mad, frustrated, and overly focused on what your kids are NOT good at – and to remind you to take a breath, pivot, and look at their strengths! Catch Them Being Good, so to speak. So here goes. There is zero expiration on identifying and naming your child’s strengths and unique aspects of self. We tend to focus on remediating their deficits (tutors, kumon, extra drills, more homework) with less focus on celebrating what makes each one of them so very firmly them. Read on and identify their areas (and your own as well) of grace, excellence, and shine!

About IQs. Per Howard Gardner, Ph.D. and Harvard professor/developmental psychologist, there are eight types of intelligence. Most of us only think of one, and that is ‘General IQ.’ Even that, by the way, includes two types: Linguistic-Verbal intelligence and Mathematical-logical intelligence. We measure this type of IQ with standardized IQ tests that typically have ‘the average’ IQ ranging between 90 and 110. And by the way, MOST of us fall in that range of average. A few fall into lower ranges which can signify Intellectual Disabilities and a few fall into higher ranges, which can (at the highest numbers) indicate ‘genius.’ Mostly, though, 70% of us have average IQs. Scientists posit that these IQs are fairly stable across the lifespan, but there are many flaws in the tests we use to assess them, so remember, a number is just a number. It is not a definition of a human by any means.

Another form of intelligence is kinesthetic (as seen in football players, who can anticipate where all 22 players on the field are and who can run and catch a ball before it’s even thrown, and gymnasts who can spot their landing with eyes closed and in kids who do great at dodge ball, handball, and jump rope.) There is also visual-spatial intelligence. Can you intuitively figure out how to drive from point A to B without waze or your GPS? Do you recall how to get to a place you’ve only been to once, and that was years ago, in the dark? Or do you (like myself and my sister Susan) get lost pulling out of your driveway even WITH a navigation system on your phone, car, and an old-fashioned print map too?

Another two types of intelligence are Musical/Rhythmic and Naturalistic intelligence. Musical intelligence has to do with sensitivity to sounds, rhythms, tones, and music. People with a high musical intelligence normally have good pitch and may even have absolute pitch, and are able to sing, play musical instruments, and compose music. They have sensitivity to rhythm, pitch, meter, tone, melody or timbre. Naturalistic intellect is what it sounds – it pertains to those who basically ‘can talk to the animals’ and who can walk the forests with ease and comfort and who love to be outdoors or on a ship or in a hammock hanging from the rock they are climbing. It is often associated with Indigenous Peoples who knew the earth as well as (if not better) than they knew themselves.

Finally, there are INTRAPERSONAL (emotional) intelligence and INTERPERSONAL (social) intelligence. I mention these last as in some ways these are the ones most pertinent. Intrapersonal or emotional intelligence means self-awareness or introspection. People who have high intrapersonal intelligence are aware of their emotions, motivations, beliefs, and goals. Ironically, people with high cognitive IQ may have relatively lower intrapersonal IQ (think “Big Bang Theory” characters on tv.)

Some research suggests that social intelligence takes you farther in life (depending on how you define ‘farther’) than other types of IQ, and in fact, in predicting successful graduation rates from college, social IQ is sometimes seen as more significant than SAT scores or high school grades or socioeconomic background OR cognitive IQ.) Interpersonal/social intelligence is thought to be the ability to get along well with others, and to get them to cooperate with you. Social intelligence includes social awareness – primal empathy, attunement, empathic accuracy, social cognition, and social facility – synchrony, self- presentation, influence, and concern. And here is a GREAT thing – it is believed that, unlike other intelligences, social intelligence is something we can INCREASE and ENHANCE across the life span, especially our ability to have empathy. (So, if you’re worried your child cannot learn long division or write a great essay while sequestered at home and being taught over a computer or telephone – consider this: 1) How easy is it to learn through those media? 2) Which is more fun – bugging parents and/or tantruming and/or annoying a sister or sitting online from 8am to 3pm daily? And 3) Maybe your child’s best IQ is social IQ, which at the end of the day, may be just what our planet needs most. Encourage and support their ability to ‘walk in another’s shoes’ and take another’s perspective, because that’s called empathy. Just sayin….

While we are all busy ‘staying at home’ let’s take time to observe and identify unique characteristics of one another. We can grow and embrace any of these and our likes/dislikes and environmental exposure to things (more time in nature, more time playing sports) can make a difference. The list is CONCEPTUAL. So do not over think it or sign up for formal IQ tests. Just use the aforementioned as a light guide – it is never time to throw away our sense of wonder at the amazing billion things that go into making each of us. Enjoy. The intent is to look at each of your children, your partners, your parents and find things you had not noticed. Instead of generating that list of ‘here are the top 10 things you do that bug me’, create the other list ‘fun things about you that I appreciate.’ No expiration dates to worry. In times like these, embrace all aspects and shine the light.

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