Enhance your mental power | Sunday Observer

Enhance your mental power

9 January, 2022
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein

The conventional view that some people are born with intelligence has been challenged by modern psychologists. Today, they say that anybody can consciously enhance their intelligence. When it comes to intelligence, the first name that comes to your mind is Albert Einstein, the greatest physicist of the 20th century.

He was not a child prodigy as some people tend to believe. He was a slow learner and a somewhat troublesome child in school. He became such an academic failure that the school issued an expulsion order: “Your presence in class is disruptive and affects the other students.” The authorities probably did not know that they were expelling one of the brightest students from their school.

As an adult in his later life Einstein recalled some of his learning problems in school. He admitted that his intellectual development was retarded as a result of his wondering about space and time. Some 11 years after his ignominious expulsion from school, Einstein published his Theory of Relativity that changed our understanding of the universe.

Although nobody else could come close to his intellectual capacity, his intellectual development in later years has cast some doubts about our conventional ideas about intelligence. We depended mainly on IQ (intelligence quotient) tests to measure a person’s intelligence. Einstein showed that intelligence cannot be measured by IQ tests. In fact, his unusual intelligence went far beyond IQ tests and definitions of the very concept. As a result today we no longer believe that intelligence is something inborn and fixed.

Intelligence has to be measured through the aptitudes of a person rather than inherited qualities. For instance, if a person persists in doing something to improve his skills, he is sure to enhance his intelligence. In fact, Einstein doggedly played with his ideas before coming out with his Theory of Relativity.

Conventional definitions

A new wave of research has made conventional definitions of intelligence redundant. However, the new ideas did not spread suddenly. They took a long time to germinate. Psychologists have spent long years to come up with new theories that already show the narrowness of conventional ideas about intelligence. Intelligence is not something you inherit but it is a marvellous personal trait that can be improved.

In school, it is quite common to segregate students who are supposed to be less intelligent. Teachers find that some students take a long time to understand a subject. But there are bright students who understand even complicated theories at once. What is most exciting is that some of the ill-defined abilities are possessed by ‘less intelligent’ students. They may be late developers. Some of them even outsmart ‘intelligent’ students who pass their examinations with flying colours. Therefore, parents and teachers should be aware of new research findings pertaining to intelligence of students.

There was a time even developed countries considered IQ tests were essential to measure a person’s intelligence. However, recent research shows that a child’s abilities will vary considerably in his adult life. Therefore, any prediction made in school is something overrated. Today, IQ tests account for only about 35 5o 45 percent of the variation in students’ academic performance. In other words, success in tests and examinations is a poor indicator of intelligence or success in adult life.

Reasoning ability

Sometimes IQ tests were done to measure a person’s reasoning ability. No doubt, it is an aspect of intelligence. However, IQ tests do not show a person’s reasoning abilities all the time. Today, psychologists firmly believe that a person’s reasoning ability can be enhanced through training. Experimental preschool programs involving slum children have proved that reasoning ability can be taught and improved.

According to psychologists Arthur and Linda Shaw Whimbley, any healthy child can learn abstract reasoning skills. In fact, they have enabled college students to make better grades through a training program. They have explained the process in detail in their book Intelligence can be taught.

Creativity is another aspect of intelligence. For instance, most creative people are supposed to be highly intelligent. “Creative tests” involve adeptness at finding solutions to problems. Some of our top bureaucrats are sure to fail in “Creative tests” because they have been unable to find solutions to pressing problems. Even an IQ test may not reveal a person’s creative abilities.

If you look at society, you will note that some people achieve greatness simply through their personality. Personality has been defined as someone’s character, especially the way they behave towards other people. Psychologists believe that childhood experiences have a strong influence on forming personality. In the past, however, personality was not considered a part of intelligence. However, people who have demonstrated outstanding intellectual accomplishments have several personality traits. Einstein had a load of curiosity, persistence and capacity for self-criticism. Even highly creative people demonstrate an unusual openness, independence, imaginativeness and playfulness.

Brain chemistry

Advances in our knowledge of brain chemistry will help us to understand that all intellectual faculties are not measured by IQ, creativity or personality tests. For instance, the primitive regions of the brain still control emotions. The link between emotional involvement and your ability to comprehend it appears to be a chemical reward system in the brain. That is why you feel extremely happy when you do a job well.

Schools should not reject or discourage students simply depending on IQ tests alone. Their strengths may lie in other sorts of activity. A child weak in mathematics will have the ability to become a great musician. As a leader in the field of ability testing says, if we identify talented children on the basis of IQ tests, we will eliminate 70 percent of creative people.

I remember one of my classmates who had no ability to write essays or draw pictures. However, he had other talents. He could solve complicated problems easily. After completing his GCE Advanced Level examination, he entered the Medical College of a university and later became a well-known Cardiologist. Therefore, it is difficult to measure human intelligence using only one method. You have to resort to other methods to find out your strengths and weaknesses.

Question yourself whether you are good at figures or words. Can you write on abstract or concrete subjects? Are you a person who can deal with people or things? Do you try to memorise facts or figure them out when you face a difficult problem? Do you prefer a sedentary job or a field job? Your answers to such questions will show you the way to proceed. To achieve intellectual success, there is no royal road. Even if you have a high IQ, it has to be supported by perseverance, empathy, imagination and openness to new ideas.

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