Why Does IQ Matter?

In Standardized Minds by Peter Sacks, he talks a bit about IQ and how our American culture is fixated on numbers.

“Compared to other countries, Americans appear to be far more obsessed with IQ, the notion that intelligence—most often defined narrowly as logical-analytical ability—is both inborn and representable as a single numerical score.”

“Similarly, our culture places an exceedingly high value on the notion of potential to achieve, rather than achievement itself. For most Americans, a “gifted” student is one who scores off the charts on aptitude tests, not one who demonstrates practical knowledge on worthwhile endeavors.”

It’s curious that as a society we care so much about people’s IQ. Really, what does IQ matter in everyday life. Or in how happy a person is? Or whether they are able to lead fulfilling lives? IQ puts a number on a certain kind of intelligence, as well. It doesn’t test social ability, negotiation skills, ability to deal with emotions, compassion, ability to recognize one’s own strengths, efficiency or many other things that can create success and greatness.

Yet, kids continue to be tested and separated according to their IQ scores.

When, in real life, when you have a real user-based system that responds to the individual’s needs, in the real world where success and productivity are not based on how smart you are but whether or not one can pursue the things one is good at, IQ is irrelevant.

So, why does IQ matter? Because it’s easy to sort and categorize people. It’s easy to sort and categorize ourselves. And having that category, that number – it’s comforting.

Perhaps this knowledge might be slightly significant in schools where resources are scarce, or have to be divvied up somehow. But in homeschooling, IQ is not. Follow the kid, give him what he needs and stimulate his brain with things that spark his neurons, and who needs to know his IQ?


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