Intelligence is the degree of comprehension and knowledge a person is said to retain. IQ (Intelligence Quotient) is one form, where the ability of the brain to retain factual and conceptual information can be measured and graded. It also can explain the aptitude a person has. EQ (Emotional Intelligence) is another test that can quantify a person’s ability to contextualise but this time over emotional capacity. In education more frequently it is the academic criteria of success that is highly emphasised with learners often streamed or graded and then measured via an examination system.
All these methods of interpretation rely on hierarchy to thrive. As these posts have pointed out from time and time our education system in the UK colludes with the creating of a ‘society’ founded on survival of the fittest. In terms of intelligence this creates winners and losers. If you are labelled a ‘winner’ consciously or unconsciously by an institution you are more likely to continue to win (unless the pressure placed on you to do so can create unrealistic expectations and the wellbeing of the individual suffers as a result. This is also common in the UK system.) If you are labelled a loser this reinforced this self-belief as well.
Intelligence has become a form of currency in our system. Those education establishments producing ‘league tables’ of exam results demonstrating they have more examination ‘winners’ than others are placed in higher value by the system and the reward is often more funding. This means we also have an aggressive ‘survival of the fittest’ model at the makro level also. In this Mcsystem, learners become commodities that can be traded in for cash that help keep the institution running. The message in some learning environments is clear to the learners – the reason for the environment existing is to churn out exam results at the expense of care and support for the individual.
Those learners who ‘lose’ are often in the group, like me, who are ‘neurodiverse’. Although learning environments can earnestly believe they are supporting those with Special Educational Additional Needs, by prizing those in the ‘top’ sets they send a message to others about their redundancy. This means that the truths about intelligence, e.g those with ADHD, identifying with additional need on the spectrum (though we are all on that obviously) or other conditions like Dyslexia or like me Dyscalculia, do not get support that can maximise their strengths. It is often down to the experts working within the environment to fight against the unconscious bias of the place to help those learners thrive. Heaven knows there are some incredible SEND specialists in this country who could make amazing difference to the quality of a learner’s life but are not given the support, value or PD they deserve or need.
For those education establishments able to bridge the gap and commit to the holistic education of their pupils in a substantive rather than shallow way, diversity can become a central part of the learning environment and these rarer breeds should be exemplified, celebrated and given a stronger voice within UK education. This way we could turn from being a country that has created this hierarchical monster and become a kinder, more agile and safer place to learn: for Heads, Senior Staff, Middle Management, Staff, Pupils and local communities. (can you spot the irony of the last sentence?!)
I am aware this post is more of a rant than other entries and I make absolutely no apology for that.
May we be all be happy, may we be healthy, may we be free from worry.