Different Paths for Learning

I am not a fan of general education, conformity or standard algorithms and tests for education. The answer to the question should students follow different educational paths? is simple – yes they should. Should teachers and school administrators rely on IQ test to assign students to different paths? The answer is no, they should not rely on IQ tests alone. In an ideal school, well- informed. empathetic teachers would have a personal relationship with each student and would evaluate his or her interests and abilities individually. In the best case teachers and counselors would know in detail the opportunities available for further education and employment and would guide students into an appropriate school program. Secondary schools for example, could offer skill training for trades in one program, office and software skills in another program, an academic program for university admission and special programs for gifted students with already developed interests and talents.

Some of the most gifted children are oppressed, they face unnecessary obstacles and discrimination in schools that fail to appreciate and develop their special abilities. The task for better education is to appreciate a range of abilities that are valued, admired, and rewarded in adult society. Children with special aptitudes for athletics, music, art, drama, design should be identified early and given access to schools that support and encourage development in these specialized areas. Rare children have special abilities in mathematics, physics, design and creative ideas. These children will thrive if they are introduced to brilliant adults who can act as mentors.

You can argue that children with high scores on tests of intelligence tend to learn more of what is taught in school than their lower-scoring peers but there are limitations to what can be predicted about individual students. IQ scores sort a student population in a standard bell curve distribution and after years of use and have known correlations with scholastic accomplishment and employability. Intelligence tests predict school performance about half the time. The correlation between IQ test scores and school grades is about 0.5. Correlations between IQ scores and total years of education are about 0.55. Better, more comprehensive intelligence and aptitude tests are highly desirable. Intelligence goes beyond reading, writing and math.

According to the Task Force of the American Psychological Association: "What children learn in school depends not only on their individual abilities but also on teaching practices and on what is actually taught. Recent comparisons among pupils attending school in different countries have made this especially obvious. Children in Japan and China, for example, know a great deal more math than American children even though their intelligence test scores are quite similar This difference may result from many factors, including cultural attitudes toward schooling as well as the amount of time devoted to the study of mathematics and how that study is organized…There are a number of reasons why children with higher test scores tend to get more education. They are likely to get good grades, and to be encouraged by teachers and counselors; often they are placed in "college preparatory" classes, where they make friends who may also encourage them. In general, they are likely to find the process of education rewarding in a way that many low-scoring children do not. In contemporary American society, the amount of schooling that adults complete is also predictive of their social status. Occupations considered high in prestige (e.g., law, medicine, corporate business) usually require at least a college degree; 16 or more years of education as a condition of entry. It is partly because intelligence test scores predict years of education that they also predict occupational status, and income to a smaller extent. Moreover, many occupations can only be entered through professional schools, which base their admissions at least partly on general knowledge test scores: the MCAT, the GMAT, the LSAT, etc. Individual scores on admission-related tests such as these are positively correlated with scores on tests of intelligence.”