The debate has been alive for quite some time as to whether or not education and intelligence are two separate entities when it comes to determining how smart one is. Does your intelligence determine your education? Or is it your education that has an effect on your intelligence?
Many psychologists have ventured to answer this question in order to put the argument to rest once and forever, but their findings haven’t always been one to dissipate the debate. Intelligence can be described as an innate and natural ability that we have acquired from birth, something we can’t necessarily alter. There is a way of measuring intelligence, with intelligence quotient (IQ) testing a possibility.
From an education standpoint, your academic resume should speak for itself, with the varying levels of achievements as well as the quality of your degree and the institution all major indicators of academic success. However, there is an additional school of thought that believes in a range of other forms of intelligence. Howard Gardner first proposed the idea of up to eight types of intelligence in 1983, citing musical-rhythmic, visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic as examples of additional competencies one’s intelligence could manifest itself in.
Gardner speculates that those forms of intelligence are honed by training and education, lending credence that intelligence can be something that is acquired through continued education rather than an innate ability. That being said, this is where the debate starts. As education is often times provided by a third party, it raises the question as to what effect the quality of the education has on acquired knowledge – after all your own behaviour and knowledge are a reflection of the quality of your education.
In turn this seems to shine a spotlight on those with an innate ability to assimilate knowledge, as they are often more likely to educate themselves outside of a classroom or pursue further, more complicated studies. So does this discount those who are perpetual students and who may not have a high IQ? Not at all. A continued effort to learn, gathering knowledge and being able to properly interpret that knowledge if what should define intelligence, no matter what your IQ or academic record says.
Developing natural intelligence through a decent educational pathway does seem to be the best way to progress. Even if someone’s IQ may be outside the normal distribution, there is nothing stopping them from continuing to educate themselves. Education and knowledge is what we make of it.