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The IQ Trap

Dr. Robert Flower, founder of the Gilchrist Institute for the Achievement Sciences, breaks down and challenges our accepted definition of intelligence, which he refers to as the "IQ Trap." Read on to find out the effect this "trap" can have on your child's academic success.



The IQ trap; children and IQ; 13 intelligences   We all worry about our child's success. She's lagging behind her class. He has ADD. She's too passive. Why can't he be like other kids?

   The Gilchrist Institute for the Achievement Sciences has discovered that we all possess 13 Natural Intelligences, each of which is an important component of our potential for success. Unfortunately, we base success in school on just a few of these.

   This is the IQ trap: When we accept this narrow definition of intelligence, we put knowledge ahead of understanding. We all know people with high IQs who achieve academic success but never achieve success after school. And we've seen immigrants with little education who become multimillionaires. How is this possible? The answer is that some people have an innate sense that I call Natural and Technical Intelligence (NaTI).

   Our 13 Natural Intelligences are grouped into three categories: Creative (planning), Organizational, and Functional (action). NaTI is comprised of cognitive measures such as IQ and EI (emotional intelligence), two of our four Functional Intelligences. That means most of our intelligence actually comes from the Creative and Organizational categories!

   As many parents know, a creative child is usually not considered a "top student." Children with advanced Creative Intelligence may be "day dreamers," but may also be the class artists or inventors. They are imaginative and solve problems creatively. They can't sit still and don't connect with the lecture mode of teaching. Einstein and Thomas Edison were two examples of creative academic "failures." 

   Children with strong Organizational Intelligence, on the other hand, do well in a structured environment. They see everything as "part of something" and try to put things in their place. Organizational Intelligence is foremost in children who are always asking "Why?" Sometimes they don't achieve academically because the lessons are too shallow for them to get the whole picture correctly and it may take them longer to understand things. They also sometimes have problems socially because they like to "run" things - be the boss and tell others what to do. But they are very adaptable.

   Functional Intelligence includes the IQ and EI people...the "smart" kids. They get good marks in school and know a lot. Their problem is they have a tendency not to "understand." Mensa members often fall into this category. When was the last time you met a rich Mensa scholar? The significant thing about having strong Functional Intelligences is that people who do attempt to take action.

   In summary, the Creatives say, "Here's the plan," while Organizationals say, "...And here is how we will do it." Functionals then say, "Give it all to me and I will go do it."

   All 13 Intelligences contribute to a successful, balanced individual. And all 13 Intelligences contain untapped potential that can be identified and developed. I have worked with many people to develop all 13 Natural Intelligences and help them reach their full potential. It often takes tremendous strength for parents to keep their focus on the broader definition of success for their children - and not fall into the IQ trap.



Dr. Robert Flower is the founder of the Gilchrist Institute for the Achievement Sciences.

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