Archive for the ‘IQ’ Category

Fallacy: IQ is fixed

November 22, 2007

Raw cognitive ability — at least performance on tests that measure it — isn’t nearly as difficult to enhance as many people think. When people believe they can get smarter, they do. But — and this is very important — when people believe that cognitive ability is difficult or impossible to change, they don’t get smarter.

A series of studies by Columbia University’s Carol Dweck shows that when people believe their IQ level is unchangeable, “they become too focused on being smart and looking smart rather than on challenging themselves, stretching and expanding their skills, becoming smarter. Dweck finds that most people believe either that intelligence is fixed or that it can be improved through effort and practice. People who see intelligence as fixed believe statements like “if you are really smart at something, you shouldn’t have to work hard at it,” don’t take remedial classes to repair glaring deficiencies, avoid doing things they are not already skilled at because it makes them look dumb, and derive less pleasure from sustained effort and commitment. After all, they believe, if you have to work hard at things, it means you aren’t that smart.

Hard Facts by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton

The 10-year rule for exceptional performance

November 21, 2007

Exceptional performance doesn’t happen without exceptional effort, and even allegedly inherited abilities — like IQ and other “smartness” measures — improve markedly and continuously when people work hard, have good coaching, and believe they will keep getting better.  The nature versus nurture debate persists in academia and society.  But natural gifts are useless without lots of practice.  People, teams, and organizations that are novices at something almost always do it badly at first; brilliant or at least competent performance is achieved through raw persistence, coupled with the belief that improvement will happen.  What people are able to do as beginners is far less important than whether they try hard and keep learning every day.

Research in dozens of domains reveals a similar story — exceptional performance doesn’t happen without approximately 10 years of nearly daily, deliberate practice, for about four hours a day, by people who somehow (e.g. coaching, skilled peers or competitors, or books) have access to the best techniques.  This 10-year rule holds in every domain — chess, medicine, auditing, programming, bridge, physics, juggling, dance, and music.  And once achieved, exceptional performance can’t be maintained without relentless effort.

Hard Facts by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton

Why learning longhand writing is important

August 23, 2007

A while ago I was talking with a friend. She has two children. She was telling me that she didn’t want her kids to learn longhand writing. She felt that the time could be spent more profitably learning other things. After all, who writes in longhand anymore?

I got to thinking about this. Here’s what I think.

Want to increase your IQ? Then learn new ways to manipulate your hands.

It has been discovered that a significant chunk of your brain corresponds to manipulating your hand. Every time you learn a new hand movement, you create new neural connections in your brain. Thus, you become smarter!

So, I think that children should learn to write longhand because longhand requires learning many sophisticated hand manipulations. And as we’ve just seen, perfecting new hand manipulations will yield new neural connections in the brain.

In other words, developing the skill of longhand writing makes kids smarter.