intelligence

Naomi Gold (ngold@chass.utoronto.ca)
Wed, 1 Apr 1998 22:40:01 -0500 (EST)

Well, speaking of television...I am watching a programme on the TV Ontario
channel (in Toronto) dealing with contemporary ideas about intelligence,
which it calls "the world's primary currency of power." Our culture is
obsessed with intelligence because we live in an "information age,"
success in which depends upon high levels of intelligence - or certain
kinds of intelligence. There is a huge industry in intelligence testing.
Children are ranked according to their perceived intelligence. In a
couple of chilling scenes, children were shown during the administration
of an intelligence test: seated in rows, all eyes forward ("Good
listening" the teacher said), being instructed in how to properly fill in
the computerized form. In another scene, a kindergarden teacher described
the goal of getting the class to read and count at a certain level by the
age of six.

Kids internalize the assessments of teachers and exams: the gifted ones
speak of feeling "different" and are relieved to be placed in special
classes or special schools, but they realize that they are special. The
"ordinary" kids feel that the designation "gifted" puts them down.

This documentary unmasks the drive for uniformity and the culture of
competitiveness that exist in society generally, and in the schools which
reflect societal values and norms and which serve to train the next
generation of employees and consumers.

This is all by way of saying: never has the need for alternative schools
been greater.