Received wisdom, education, & technology

This is a cross-post from my ETEC 533 blog, Technology in Math & Science Classes.

For me, a central concern in technology and teaching today should be: what does intelligence mean?

  • Is someone intelligent if they can locate the right answer?
  • Is someone smart if they can derive the right answer?
  • Is someone smart if they can synthesize the right answer?
  • Is someone smart if they can ask the right questions?

Of course, questions of what intelligence is have been with us for decades if not centuries. And the answer is very likely: there’s different kinds of smart.

But what do school optimize for?

Do they optimize for retention? For synthesis? For investigative skill? Or for sheer intellectual horsepower that powers through tough learning challenges? And, of course, we haven’t even talked about any of Gardner’s physical or musicla intelligences yet, or Goleman’s emotional.

None of this is clear.

What is clear is that teaching someone to be smart in a networked 21st century is a different proposition than teaching someone to be smart in a paper 18th century … just as that was different than teaching someone to be smart in an oral 5th century AD.

But sheer intelligence … has that changed at all?

Going to the oracle of Delphi, as a teacher I interviewed referred to Google, doesn’t make someone smart. And blind reliance on canned answers might be as dangerous and prehistorical obedience to cryptic priestly incantations. But distributed memory and cognition is surely an aide to the wise.

It strikes me that we don’t understand these issues as well as we should.


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1 CommentLeave a comment

  • I would have to say that intelligence is a combination of everything you mentioned above plus a lot of common sense. In this age, it does mean something different to be intelligent; I would say that being intelligent is at least 25% common sense, 25% book smarts, 25% street smarts and 25% being able to infer things from your surroundings, book readings, etc… Regards!