Systems Boost Our Understanding
is Needed for Learning Success
Key Understanding: We can take advantage of the
great richness of learning potential in each student if we can manage our
educational resources so learning and motivational principles are effectively
and appropriately applied to each student and continuously match each student's
learning needs with the best possible learning options. This cannot be
successfully accomplished with our current primitive, unmanaged method of schooling
which relies almost totally on each teacher's energy and resources. There is
more to learning than content and presentations. The purpose of education should
go beyond the mastery of content. It should include developing each student's
learning and success capabilities..
Systems Thinking Reveals and Expands Opportunities
Wonderful worlds of unlimited potential become
available when we use systems thinking. It is something so simple, yet so very
profound. In a productive system, the whole becomes greater than the sum of
its parts because each component in the system multiplies the power of all the
other components and brings into play powerful principles that can transform the
whole into something totally different and far more powerful than a mere
collection of its parts. An
airplane wheel cannot make an airplane fly, nor can a wing, nor can any other
single component. They must work within a system of other
components. Walk into an auto parts store and you will see hundreds of
automobile components, but they only have value when they are placed in an
appropriate system. Disassemble a computer, and it becomes just a pile of parts
rather than a marvel of technology that has revolutionized our way of life.
The Importance of Clarifying a Prime Directive and Mission
When thinking of systems, it is important to think
of clients and their mission or purposes. Hold a wooden pencil in your hand. It
is composed of several components that work together to create an extremely
useful tool for
communication. The wood, lead, erasure holder, and erasure together become a
system. The purpose of the system is to be part of a larger or macro-system (which
include one or more people, pencil sharpener, paper, a system of symbols, etc.)
that empowers a person to use symbols to communicate with self or others.
Let’s assume we focused on improving the pencil.
We would need to be careful
because improving one part of the pencil may actually harm the system. For
example, we could decide to use harder, more durable, wood. But this would make
the pencil much harder to sharpen. An even greater danger exists if we
concentrate too much on the pencil and how to improve its components, rather
than the mission and purposes of using pencils in the first place. Too much
attention given to improving the pencil may
unnecessarily hinder us from seeing other, perhaps more fruitful, possibilities
of achieving the mission of communicating with self and others. With the mission
of communication the focus, during this last century, we have used systems
thinking and an ever-growing knowledge of principles to increase our ability to
communicate by developing mechanical pencils, typewriters, computer word
processors, e-mail, on-line chat rooms, speech recognition programs that do the typing for you,
telephones, radios, television, personal data assistants, two-way wireless
radios, satellites, and the list continues to grow.
Good thing we didn't just concentrate on pencils! The major lessons for education include
two don’ts and two do’s:
Rely on piece-meal efforts to reform
Be limited to improving any one current tool or method
Focus on the mission and purposes of the
2. Explore the possibilities that can come
into existence by systems thinking and the application of an ever-growing
knowledge of learning and management principles
Focus on the Success of Learners
Up until the early 1960’s, it was
commonly believed that intelligence and learning ability were fixed at birth.
Success in school was a matter of achieving up to one’s level of inborn
ability. This led to the terms under-achievers and over-achievers.
Group intelligence tests were routinely given to all students. Scores were made
available to teachers who then treated their students according to those scores.
Students achieving below their supposed IQ were prodded to work harder while
students achieving above their supposed IQ were considered over-achievers who
were probably working too hard. One of the authors of this book had several
experiences observing teachers actually adjusting the grades they were going to
give certain students after seeing their IQ scores. That is one reason why group
intelligence tests and their automatic inclusion in student records was
Because it was thought that intelligence was fixed and distributed along
a normal curve, it was also considered logical that grades should also be distributed
along a normal curve also. Roughly 5 to 10% of the students were expected to
fail with an F, 15 to 20% barely pass with a minimum of subject understanding
and receive a D, 50 to 60% do average work with semi-mastery and receive a C, 15 to 20% do above average
with greater mastery earning a B, and only 5 to 10% actually master the subject and receive an A.
The A students, along with some B students, were then encouraged to pursue
higher learning opportunities and given access to programs leading to
J. McV. Hunt, a professor of
psychology at the University of Illinois, who wrote a paradigm-changing book in
1961 called Intelligence and Experience, dramatically challenged the idea of a fixed
powerfully reviewed extensive research demonstrating that to a significant
extent, the growth of intelligence could be influenced either positively or
negatively. He then issued the following
…it might be
feasible to discover ways to govern the encounters that children have with their
environments, especially during the early years of their development, to achieve
a substantially faster rate of intellectual development and a substantially
higher adult level of intellectual capacity. Moreover, inasmuch as
the optimum rate of intellectual development would mean also self-directing interest
and curiosity and genuine pleasure in intellectual activity, promoting
intellectual development properly need imply nothing like the grim urgency which
has been associated with “pushing” children. Furthermore, these procedures,
insofar as they tended to maximize each child’s potential for intellectual
development, would not decrease individual differences in intellectual capacity
as assessed by tests but would increase them. (Hunt,
J.McV., Intelligence and Experience, p 363)
Note the words govern the encounters that children have
with their environment. This greatly broadens our view of what needs to
be considered when planning for optimum student development and
achievement. We need to focus on the learner and his or her optimal interactions with the environment in
school and out. Instead of only looking at that which occur in normal
classrooms as they now exist, we need to carefully explore what types of
interactions a learner should have at school and also outside the classroom.
child’s achievement could be considered solely a function of his or her inborn
ability. Given a relatively adequate school experience, the speed of the
assembly line would simply sort out the students who should go on to further
education from those who should and would fall off the assembly line (drop out) or get so
hopelessly behind that they would look for future occupational
only where little education was needed.
Because the focus was on the teaching process rather than the
learning process and the view that students were or should be relatively passive receivers of
instruction, good teaching was generally limited to:
· Preparation – including teacher (or textbook) determination of
· Motivation – devising artificial ways to get students motivated
to participate in the learning activity or listen attentively to the teacher’s
presentation (i.e., grades & recognition).
· Presentation – in which the teacher does most of the meaningful
· Evaluation – determining the degree to which children achieved
the objectives & giving appropriate grades.
These are important factors to consider as far as teacher
presentations and teacher-directed lesson plans are concerned, and should be
included in designing effective education systems, but if used to the exclusion
of major principles of the learning process and the needs of individual
students, they can actually do very little to help students succeed, and may
actually hinder the success of many students.
A more fruitful approach to boosting student achievement is to
focus on the learner and the learning process.
Hunt claimed that if we could
govern a child’s learning encounters effectively, we could potentially move the whole IQ
curve up 10 to 30 points. Think what that would mean to every student's success! Ten
additional points would mean an average two-year increase in achievement by the end of
high school. Only an average of about 10 points separates a non-high school
graduate from a high school graduate. There is an average of only an additional 10
points separating the average high school graduate from the average college
graduate. According to the United
States Census Report in 1990, the average income of high school graduates was
twice that of non-graduates. College graduates were earning about
twice the average of high school graduates. So economically, a ten-point rise in
intelligence could mean a dramatic increase in a person’s potential
educational level and doubling his or her expected lifetime income! An enriched
education in itself would help assure an increase in quality of life as a person
incorporated more knowledge learned in his or her life and the contributions the
culture has made available. That’s a challenge worth pursuing!
J. McV Hunt's challenge of pulling the IQ curve
IQ and educational attainment
Educational attainment and Income
For more understanding of this important concept,
read the Introductory Chapter to IQ
Boosters: A Complete Program to Increase the IQ
of Everyone in Your Family Through Time Management, Habits, Activities, and
Games, by Brent R. Evans
All of this can be understood more clearly if we look at the
research and writings of Jean Piaget and other cognitive psychologists who have
studied the construction of intelligence as an active process in which a person
interacts purposely with his or her environment and in so doing literally builds
his or her learning and coping abilities. According to Piaget, and now most
cognitive psychologists, each person is an active learner with a central
intelligence ability (mind) who purposely interacts with a responsive
environment in order to more fully understand the world he or she is living in
and to increase his or her ability to advantageously control consequences.
For example, it has been found that even 5- to 12-week old infants will
adapt their speed of sucking on a pacifier (connected to a pressure switch
controlling a video presentation) in order to bring a movie into focus. (How
People Learn, p 71) In this regard, it is significant that the main
conclusion of the largest education study ever undertaken in the United States,
The Coleman Report in 1966, concluded that the most important learner
characteristic related to achievement was the belief that what he or she did
made a difference. Other studies, such as the Fels Research Institute
Study, found that passive learners tended to score lower on intelligence tests
as they grew older while active learners tended to score higher. The more we
examine the process of human learning, the more devastating the current practice
of assembly line instruction becomes evident.
Positive interaction with the environment can be viewed as
learning cycles that include purposeful initiatives that result in usable
feedback. Jean Piaget used the terms assimilation (adding to and enriching
what is already known) and accommodation (changing concepts or action systems)
to refer to these cycles. A learning cycle involves Observation
– Interpretation – Planning – Acting.
The learner observes his or her situation, interprets
its meaning, plans a reaction or initiative accordingly, acts on
the plan, and then cycles through the process again. As the learner engages in
these learning cycles, he or she develops what might be called knowledge
intelligence. To become a part of one’s usable knowledge or knowledge intelligence, it is not
enough to be exposed to facts and unrelated information. What is
observed or encountered must result in a meaningful connection to what has been learned before.
knowledge, new insights are internalized by establishing links with already
existing knowledge, and these links can range from firmly characterized
relationships to vague associations. Prior knowledge is used to make sense of
received information, and once accepted for inclusion, internalizes the new
insights by linking with prior knowledge. Hence,
the new knowledge is as much a function of prior knowledge as it is of received
inputs. A discontinuity is thus created between the inputs and the resulting
new knowledge. The resulting knowledge and understanding is formed by
combinations of mental objects and links between them and allows us to sense,
reason, plan, judge, and act. – (Karl M. Wiig in Chapter 1: Knowledge Management: An
Emerging Discipline Rooted in a Long History, p3 in Knowledge Horizons: The
Present and the Promise of Knowledge Management by Charles Despres and Danielle
The continuing interactions and the building of personal
knowledge and action capabilities involve incremental learning over a period of
time, but at certain points, a learner's central intelligence ability reorganizes the
knowledge base to a higher level of proficiency. In Piaget’s terms, we see
a child develop from sensory-motor modes of thought to pre-operational, to
concrete, to formal, etc. We see the same phenomenon in industry and other areas
of our productive society. For example, developments
in medicine and health care develop incrementally over a period of time, but at
certain points revolutionary reorganizations of thought and actions occur. This
is sometimes referred to in learning theory as double-loop learning. The
first loop is incremental, but occasionally a second loop challenges some of the
assumptions of how the knowledge base is organized and a new paradigm or mental
model comes into being.
In studying how to promote optimum intelligence and increase
learning power, it is important that these learning cycles are encouraged and
nurtured. To do so, we need to
Establish a knowledge curriculum within which a learner can
Be continually aware of and respect each student’s current
mastery of knowledge within the curriculum, as well as his or her personal goals
and aspirations, and preferred styles of learning.
Match each child's learning needs
and aspirations with the best learning options possible.
We can find powerful opportunities to increase intelligence and
the learning power of all students by using systems thinking to view
intelligence in four ways:
· Neural or Physical Brain
human nervous system including the brain and its “wiring” with neurons
or Academic Intelligence: the learning and thinking skills tested by
standardized intelligence tests such as the Stanford-Binet and Wechsler
Intelligence Scale for Children)
· Success Intelligence
(Success Equation): the strategies and action systems that boost a
person’s learning and achievement capabilities, including Basic or Academic IQ,
Goal-directed IQ (achievement
motivation and time/resource management), Character or Emotional IQ, Strategy IQ
of strategies, tools, and support systems). These areas of intelligence when
combined as a whole system create a maximum of success and learning
· Active Learning and Knowledge
includes what Howard Gardner refers to as multiple intelligences which when
given adequate educational opportunities will result in a person pursuing and
mastering an area of knowledge corresponding to his or her interests and
Neural or Physical Brain View of Intelligence
Good nutrition, especially during pregnancy and the first months
of childhood, can effect the physical development of the brain and nervous
system. But at all ages, we learn and perform better when we eat properly and
exercise regularly. Consider about eight points of IQ being directly related to
good nutrition and health.
Enriched experiences make a positive difference in a child’s
developing brain and to some extent throughout life. Physical changes take place
as a child interacts with his or her environment and engages in learning
opportunities. The cortex of the brain is 80% uncommitted at birth. One of the
purposes of childhood is to customize our brains to most effectively deal with
our needs and successfully cope with the problems we are likely to encounter in
life within the specific environment in which we find ourselves. In other words,
to a large extent we develop the intelligence we will need to live life successfully. This
continues throughout our lives. Each of us has about the same number of brain
neurons, but it is by building connections among them that we increase our real
capacity. The number of connections we can make is virtually unlimited, and
therefore the potential capacity of our brain becomes for all practical
purposes, limited only by our actions and opportunities. Consistent effort in
meeting challenges or pursuing goals continues to add neuron connections as the
brain wires and rewires itself to become more and more capable of dealing with
them. All learning involves new neuron connections. For example, as you study
algebra, your brain becomes physically more capable of learning, understanding, and using
Basic or Academic Intelligence
Standardized intelligence tests such as the Stanford-Binet
and Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) attempt to determine a child’s
basic learning and thinking ability in comparison to other children his or her age
as much as possible to not include school learning or achievement. The tests can’t
exclude achievement altogether or they wouldn’t have anything to test, but
they try to do so as much as possible. The WISC tries to do something more. It
endeavors to also evaluate the various processes or skills of intelligence. This has
been found to be particularly important in determining learning disabilities. A
child significantly weak in one or more of the skills tested is assumed be hampered
in his or her learning efforts. Just as it is important to have a physical
checkup to determine a person’s health and find out if any weak areas need to
be corrected, compensated for, or at least monitored, so it is with basic
intelligence skills. There is a strong tendency for people to limit and avoid
interactions in any personal area perceived to be weak. For example, a person with a
perceived weakness in short-term auditory memory may try to avoid situations requiring that
skill. Not exercising that skill may result in an even greater deficiency as
time goes on.
The following are 13 key basic IQ skill or process areas including 12
from the WISC and 1 that has been added because of its importance.
The title and description for each is from IQ Boosters by
Brent Evans listed in the bibliography. The related WISC sub-test name is in
Verbal Information & Alertness (Information): Your ability to
recognize, understand, and recall verbal information is the foundation of your
thinking ability. An added advantage is that the more you know, the easier it is
to learn and understand still more. This is evaluated by having the test-taker
answer questions such as: Who
was the third president of the United States?
2. Ability to Organize & Generalize
ability to categorize, organize, generalize, and use what you already know and
apply it to new situations and problems. This is measured by having the
test-taker answer questions given orally. Examples: In what way is a table
and a chair the same? How are they different?
Mental Math Skills (Arithmetic): The ability to do math
computation in your head, giving you freedom to think mathematically at all
times, not just when you have a pencil in your hand. This is measured by having
the test-taker listen to and solve arithmetic word problems without the use of
a pencil. Most of the problems are drawn from familiar life situations, and
require relatively simple computation and reasoning. Success is based on: the
ability to focus and maintain attention, effective use of short-term memory,
freedom from undue anxiety about math, and good, basic math skills.
(Vocabulary): This concerns our ability to
understand the meanings of words and give clear definitions of them. This is an
important part of intelligence because words help us receive and understand
information as well as do our thinking. The test-taker is given a series of
words that he or she is to define. Vocabulary correlates higher with full scale
IQ than any other subtest on the WISC. It is such an important part of
intelligence; some IQ tests contain only vocabulary questions. By the time a
child goes to school, he or she has usually learned several thousand words, or
about 90% of the words adults normally use in ordinary conversation. To grow
much more, a person needs an enriched verbal environment, have a continuous
interest in reading, and engage in purposeful vocabulary development.
5. Practical Living Skills & Good Judgment
Practical knowledge, an understanding of the reasons for things in daily
life, a moral sense, and the ability to appropriately respond to real-life
situations and problems. This is evaluated by answering questions, such as: Why
is honesty important? Why do governments have constitutions? Why do we keep milk
in the refrigerator?
6. Listening and Remembering Skills
(Digit Span): Your
ability to listen and remember what you hear. Also referred to as short-term
auditory memory. This is measured by having the test-taker repeat a series of
random digits given orally at one-second intervals. After checking to see how
many digits can be remembered and repeated forwards, the test-taker is given an
additional series of digits, which are to be repeated backwards.
7. Visual Information and Alertness
(Picture Completion): Your
visual knowledge and alertness to detail. The test-taker is asked to identify
relevant parts missing in a series of pictures.
8. Understanding Cause & Effect in Social Situations
(Picture Arrangement): Your ability to understand cause and effect in social
situations. The test-taker is to correctly sequence a series of pictures
presented in mixed order reflecting real-life situations.
9. Designing and Constructing with a Model
(Block Design): Your
ability to think spatially when you have a model or clear outcome to which you
can refer. Includes ability to visually analyze an object or problem, break it
into individual parts or steps, and reproduce or solve it. This is measured by
having the test-taker reproduce designs using special playing blocks that are
red on two sides, white on two sides, and half red and half white (diagonally)
on the other two sides.
10. Designing and Constructing without a Model
Your ability to think spatially and create things of worth without a model
from which to refer. The test-taker is given ambiguous puzzle pieces and asked
to put them together to make a meaningful whole. The test also measures the
ability to handle frustration and still keep going.
Seeing and Remembering Skills (Coding): Seeing and
remembering includes the ability to quickly scan visual information, and then
accurately reproduce or use it with limited looks back at the model. Perceptual
and visual-motor speed, confidence, and motivation are also involved. This is
measured by showing the test-taker a unique design for each of the digits 0
through 9. Two minutes are given to draw as quickly as possible the correct
design for a series of digits that follow in random order.
12. Visual-Motor Skills
(Mazes): This includes visual-motor
coordination, spatial thinking, and the ability to plan ahead visually. The
test-taker is asked to use a pencil to complete a series of mazes that increase
13. Creativity: This involves your ability to break a
mental set and look at things in new ways. It includes the ability to go back
and forth between creative or divergent thinking and logical or convergent
thinking until achieving the results you want.
All of these skills or processes need to work together as a
comprehensive learning system. Teachers and the designers of learning activities
and programs need to make sure that any learner deficiencies that might exist in
any of these skills is compensated for. Even beyond that, learning activities
should be designed to help promote these essential skills in all students and help given
to apply them in achieving the objectives of a learning activity. All of these
essential skills can be strengthened and further developed in all children. The IQ
Boosters book mentioned above contains hundreds of habits, activities,
and games to do just that.
Success Intelligence View (The Success Equation)
Basic or Academic IQ as tested by the Stanford-Binet and WISC correlates with
school achievement at about 0.5 and therefore accounts for about 25% of the learning
power that results in achievement. Success Intelligence includes three other
action systems and strategy components that account for the remaining 75%.
Achievement Motivation & Time/Resource Management (25%)
Goal-directed Intelligence involves knowing what you want and
having the abilities and attitudes necessary to direct your energy, passion, time, abilities, and
resources to effectively pursue valued goals. Achievement motivation and time/resource management accounts
for about 25% of your power to succeed. That means it's contribution to success
and achievement is equal to that of Basic or Academic IQ.
Numerous studies illustrate how important Goal-directed
Intelligence is. For example, a study in 1953 found that
only 3% of the students graduating from Yale that year had written goals and
specific plans for reaching them. Twenty years later, it was found that the 3% who had written
goals were earning more money as a group than the entire other 97%! Part of the
reason why Goal-directed Intelligence is so important is that it makes Basic or
Academic Intelligence, Character Intelligence, and Strategy Intelligence
function much more purposefully and effectively. It is like the importance of a
driver of a powerful, well-designed automobile. One who can direct the
automobile to reach the places desired. What is the value of Basic or Academic
Intelligence, Character Intelligence, or Strategy Intelligence if it is not
directed toward a particular achievement? As we will see later, even the
foundational processes of learning and remembering depend on goal-directed
activities to function effectively.
A few of the basic abilities and attitudes involved in
Goal-directed Intelligence are:
Identifying a personal vision of
a life desired and believed possible to achieve. These visions may change as new
opportunities and problems arise and as the person matures and gains new
knowledge and awareness. Often, a core set of elements remain throughout the
person's lifetime, but orchestrated in different ways.
Determining clear goals and values
related to the desired personal vision of life, along with clearly identified
steps or objectives to achieve them.
Projecting in time. Example: I
need this by a certain date, therefore I need to accomplish these specific steps
according to this timeline. Motivation involves connecting motives (goals) to be
achieved in the future with actions to be accomplished between then and now. The
ability to project in time is essential for this to happen.
Awareness of personal strengths and
weaknesses as they relate to valued goals.
Ability to make maximum use of
strengths and to compensate for any weaknesses by the use of strategies,
tools, or partnering with others.
Monitoring progress toward goals,
learning from successes and failures, and making adjustments as needed.
Continuously building one's own
production ability so as to reach other goals in the future.
Some of the diversions or disabilities that interfere
with goal-directed intelligence are:
Expectation of mediocrity. One
of the most documented research finding is that achievement in school often
relates to the achievement of the parents. Many students do not strive for high
achievement because of their limited beliefs in what they consider possible for
Lack of vision. No compelling
goals that stretch abilities and generate achievement.
Discouragement and perceived
helplessness. As mentioned previously, the nationwide Coleman Study in 1996 concluded that the most
important student trait in predicting success and achievement at school was the
student's belief that what he or she did made a difference. Extended experience
with inappropriate learning objectives and challenges is a prime cause of
Lack of Self-Discipline. Unless
you can control your own behavior, you cannot carry out the personal actions
needed for success.
Fear of Failure. Often students
fear to put full effort into learning for fear of failure. In our society, being
considered lazy is preferable to being considered as having low intelligence.
Emotional detours and maze running.
The emotional health of learners has a direct relationship to their ability to
focus their attention and energies toward valued goals. For example, children
who are worried about the stability of their families or who have acquired
emotional disturbances will be putting most of their energies in dealing with
those problems, leaving precious little to pursue learning and achievement.
Lack of knowing how to set goals and
create action plans. A person may have dissatisfaction and vague desires,
but not know how to clarify them into workable goals and plans.
Unclear learning or challenge edge.
Not knowing what he or she knows now and what then would be the next learning or
challenge objective. The person may try to take too large of a jump which
results in failure or wander in learning material already mastered resulting in
boredom. Increased motivation occurs when the next learning step is exactly
Lack of know-how. Often some
skills or knowledge provides entrance into other skills or knowledge. Being able
to read, for example, opens vast worlds of new knowledge. Knowing the basics of
how to use the internet may open the way to world's of information and
communication. It is important in goal-directed intelligence that lack of know
how does not block the pursuit of valued goals.
Lack of resources. It is
important that learners have the resources they need to actively pursue their
goals. These resources may not be available in their homes. It is therefore
vital that they are available in the schools and other community institutions.
Character or Emotional Intelligence:
Character Traits and Success Habits (25%)
Character originally meant a distinguishing mark. As letters of the
alphabet and other marks that stood for things were invented, they were referred
to as characters. But the word character can also refer to qualities within us:
our character. As we develop each desired character trait, such as
honesty and courage, we are developing our character. Just as letters of the
alphabet when combined become the basis of a beautiful and powerful language, so
each character trait combines with others to produce a beautiful and powerful
person. Much of a person's success in achieving important goals in life is
directly connected to character traits. It is at least equal in power to any
other area of intelligence, and it magnifies whatever other abilities one might
have. Whether we are talking about academic success in school, occupational
success out of school, family success, or success in life in any area, character
traits play a major role. It is interesting and magnificent that the 52
character traits introduced below have been talked and written about by great
people all over the world and throughout thousands of years of history. They
have certainly stood the test of time. To feel the importance of each of them
and how they work together for the good and successful life, pick any five and
random and consider what effects their lack would have on a person.
Adaptability: This is the power to
effectively meet changes in your life and come up with new ideas or methods to
solve difficult problems or to reach exciting goals. Adaptable comes from ad
(to) and aptus (fit), meaning to fit yourself in.
This is the ability to pay careful
attention to what is happening and how it might increase understanding or
assist in reaching important goals or solving difficult problems. It is
important to be able to focus your attention.
Awareness of and sensitivity to
goodness, beauty, and the contributions other people make to your well-being and
happiness. It is most readily developed by expressing gratitude.
Having worthy purposes, dreams, hopes,
and ambitions. It involves visualizing what you want, making a commitment for
its attainment, planning, and continually striving for it. Life has a special
zest to it when we have a strong desire to achieve something great, noble, or
Sincere concern for the well-being of
others as exhibited by a desire to share and give in deed, thought, and spirit.
An attitude of approaching life in a joyful way. Although life has its serious
moments, and sometimes tragedies, it can also be fun. There is a special
excitement to living when we welcome each day with cheerful anticipation of good
Ability to share information, ideas,
and feelings in productive and satisfying ways. We spend about seventy percent
of our waking hours in some form of communication, such as talking, showing,
listening, reading, writing, etc.
Love of challenges, victories, and the
attainment of or striving for high standards and important goals.
Inner assurance that with effort
things will turn out well and success will be the eventual outcome. A confident
person evaluates the situation he or she is in, prepares for what needs to be
done, and then puts forth the needed effort with a firm determination to
Feeling of quiet, deep satisfaction.
You have goals and positive expectations for the future, but at the same time
you fully enjoy your current life, situation, and possessions.
Eager desire to learn and understand
new things, and to enjoy using and building your mental abilities.
Courage to do what is right with due consideration of the risks, sufferings, and
ambiguities that might exist. To do so means control of your fears, and the
avoidance of undue delay and procrastination.
Power of positive excitement. It is joy put to work. It creates the extra energy
you need to accomplish great things and attracts others to your cause through
its magnetism. Resources become available that would otherwise be hidden or out
Striving for perfection and quality, a
commitment to see tasks completed, and a willingness to put long, systematic
effort into reaching high standards. Mistakes and errors are corrected.
Concern for the rights of all people,
not just yourself. It is a valuing of community in which everyone has equal
rights under just laws and ways of doing things.
Involves developing lasting love, trust, and support among each other. It should
be a process of depending on each other, sharing burdens, and cheering each
other on to victories. Each family role and relationship has its own unique
qualities that can add to a full, rewarding life for every member whether it be
husband, wife, parents, or children. Brothers and sisters have immense potential
for the rich love that comes from common experiences. Grandparents,
grandchildren, and the whole spectrum of extended family relationships offer a
wealth of possibilities to enrich life.
Giving up angry or hurt feelings, or wanting to punish someone or yourself for
doing you injury.
Courage or strength of character to
face problems, pain, danger, or adversity with a positive attitude.
Having a generous and friendly way of
treating other people. It also involves motivation to establish meaningful,
growth-promoting, and satisfying relationships.
Straightforwardness in thought, speech, and conduct with no attempt to deceive.
Its companions are truthfulness, sincerity, and integrity.
Openness and willingness to learn and
grow. It is the capacity to be teachable, and is composed of valuing self and
others. A humble person openly recognizes his or her own weaknesses and faults,
and is therefore in the best position to avoid stumbling over them.
Involves creating pictures or ideas in
your mind of how things could be. It is a prelude to making what does not exist
now into reality.
Ability and motivation to get things started without needing to be told or
reminded. It involves a strong internal desire to be successful, and the courage
to take action even if conditions are not perfect.
Ability to show others the way, and to
motivate them to go in that direction. It involves being able to communicate a
vision, and generating the best in others to work to achieve it. It is the art
of getting others to do something you want done because they want to do it.
Strong personal attachment, devotion, and tender feelings toward one or more
other people. Great pleasure is experienced in looking out for the welfare of
the other person and contributing to that person's full growth and happiness.
Faithfulness and firm allegiance to
one or more people, to one's country or institution, or to some ideal or cause.
It is a commitment that is not subject to wavering because of temporary
pressures, enticements, or situations. A loyal person can be trusted.
Involves the efficient use and
coordination of resources toward identified and valued goals. It is the creation
of power from the organized effort and direction of people, time, materials, and
Willingness and ability to follow
appropriate orders, rules, laws, and principles for the good of self and others.
Habit of keeping everything in the
right place and in good working condition so life can be easier, more
productive, and happier. When you look for something, you can find it easily.
An intense desire to live in harmony
and productivity with others. Conflicts are not ignored, but priorities are
clear, and there is an honest attempt to resolve disagreements in a win/win
Steady quality of sticking to priority
tasks and goals in spite of difficulty, lack of apparent progress, or
opposition. A person with perseverance does not stop too soon, and thus love his
or her best chances for success.
A positive person continually fills
his or her mind with lovely, wholesome, and uplifting thoughts and therefore
finds confidence, peace, joy, and fulfillment. Problems are considered
opportunities to solve, and opportunities generate excitement and anticipation
of adventure and success.
Doing what is necessary to be ready
for success and take advantage of opportunities.
Showing good judgment and attention to
warnings. Undue risks are avoided by careful planning, including foreseeing the
possible negative consequences of actions and words.
Getting things accomplished on time.
This can mean keeping appointments and arriving at places on time, but it also
means getting work accomplished on time. It involves careful planning, awareness
of time, the proper pacing of activities, overcoming obstacles, and avoiding
procrastination or putting things off.
Ability to loosen up and rest from
work and problems so as to live a better and more productive life without the
drain of too much or too prolonged stress, tension, or worry. It gives you the
opportunity to enjoy the lighter things of life and see things in wider
perspective. It also fills you with fresh energy to work again and again at full
Ability and strength to bounce back
from defeat and make renewed attempts at success. Defeat is considered temporary
and a means of learning what is needed to make an even greater push to victory.
Trust and commitment to duty. It involves reliable and faithful performance and
the keeping of agreements. A responsible person can be counted on and trusted to
do what is needed.
Accurate inner knowledge of who you
are. It involves an appreciation for your own feelings and characteristics,
allowing a spontaneous and genuine approach to life.
Means to be in charge of yourself. You
have feelings, needs, and desires, but you manage your actions so as to maximize
your well being with due consideration for the welfare of others. Sometimes you
refrain from actions or modify how you do things. It is like the controls of an
airplane. You have a priority destination in mind, and you want to reach there
Having a high regard for your own
worth and dignity. It does not involve feeling you are better than others. In
fact, high self-esteem is almost always connected with equal regard and care for
Taking responsibility for your own
success, using your own judgment, efforts, and abilities. You are determined to
get done what needs to get done, regardless of what others do.
Sexual Identification &
Appreciation: Being comfortable
with your own masculinity or femininity and placing worth on the best of
womanhood and manhood.
Getting along with others in
productive and satisfying ways.
Spiritual Awareness &
Strength: Finding and achieving
meaning, vision, and value in life.
Ability to cooperate and combine your
efforts with others to more effectively reach shared and valued goals. The power
to achieve is greater because each person's unique strengths and resources can
be maximized and any weaknesses minimized by combining efforts.
Maintaining a proper balance of
actions, thoughts, and feelings that result in maximum physical, spiritual, and
emotional well being. This includes appropriate moderation in the indulgence of
appetites and passions.
Carefully managing time, money, and
resources so the greatest benefit is obtained to self and others with the least
Time Awareness and
Effective Use: Using time to the
best advantage to get the most out of life. This includes prioritizing our needs
and wants so as to have more of what we value the most.
Treasuring positive principles of life
conducive to happiness and growth for self and others.
Wisdom: Good judgment and
choice-making that comes from knowledge and experience in life. Key ingredients
are perspective and practicality.
Willingness to put forth disciplined and energetic effort to achieve success. An
understanding that it is through work that dreams are fulfilled and needs are
Strategy Directed Intelligence:
Learning/Thinking Strategies & the Use of Tools and Support Systems
Making learning easier and faster by using powerful strategies,
having the right tools, and benefiting from a support system that provides what
you need to succeed. You could swim across a lake, but knowing the right techniques could
make it much easier. In fact, easier yet would be to have a sailboat, especially
if someone would teach you how to set the sails.
Learning/Thinking Strategies and Support Systems account for an average of
25% of a person's power to learn and succeed. Most people forget most of
what they learn. What if you could retain almost everything you decide is
Examples of important learning strategies:
a Skill Foundation: The strength of a foundation determines what can be
built on it. This is true of houses and skyscrapers, and it is true of learning.
Ever noticed how difficult it is to find your way in a new city? Even directions
others give you are difficult to understand. However, once you secure a few
landmarks, the situation changes. Now you can be told (and understand) that such
and such place is close to one of your known landmarks. The whole picture starts
to fill in. And the more you learn, the easier it is to learn more. It's
important to master the basic skills and ideas (the landmarks) in each subject
area you study. Not just sort of know what nouns are when studying parts
of speech. Not just sort of know addition or multiplication facts, but
really know them! It makes learning in that content area easier and faster. Get
into the habit of spending whatever time and practice is needed to fully master
the basic skills and concepts of whatever you are studying!
When told an important telephone number, a person may repeat it over and
over so it won't be forgotten. This is called rehearsing. People
often do this when trying to memorize the name of someone they have just
met. The best rehearsal technique is to connect new information with
previous information. Related information is easier to remember. It's like
tying things together in packages that are easier to carry.
Go one step at a time when something is difficult. At first glance, many
problems look too hard, but they become simple when they're cut down to size.
Start by doing the first thing the problem asks, then the second, and so on.
There's no need to tackle a difficult problem all at once. If the problem is in
written form, take notes on each part. Separate the needed information from the
jungle of words surrounding it. Draw pictures if it helps. Here is a
problem from a 5th grade math book:
The class used 1/2 of the bulletin
board for a science display. Sue's papers took 1/3 of the display space.
What fraction of the whole board did Sue's papers cover?
Certainly lots of
words. An effective strategy is to simplify and draw pictures so the
problem becomes clear and concrete.
4. Know When
You Know: Effective learning requires that people know when they know
something and when they don't. A person needs to know when to ask
questions, get help, or study further. Why waste time studying something that is
already known? What's worse is spending a lot of time doing something the wrong
way without realizing it. It would be like practicing basketball shots
without a basket to aim for. There would be no feedback on whether there is
improvement or not. Get into the habit of checking with yourself whether you
know something or not. For instance, do you already know how to spell all
the words on your spelling list? If not, which ones do you need to study
further? Do you know your addition facts? If not, which ones do you
still need to learn? Be sure to frequently pre-test and re-test yourself, to
follow your progress and direct your efforts. With experience, you will
determine more quickly when you know something and when you don't, and exactly
which things you need to focus on. As you do this, you will learn new things
more quickly and effectively.
and Dramatize: Target specifically what you need to learn and and then
highlight or dramatize it. For example, here is an effective way to study
spelling. Spell a word the way you think it is spelled. If it's correct,
go on to the next word. If it's wrong, check how it should be spelled and write
the word again. Start the word in cursive, but this time, print in large letters
the part you still need to learn. When studying math facts, take a math fact
test and, on another sheet of paper, rewrite the problems that you missed but
dramatize the answers. Perhaps you might even make a crazy story out of
the problem and using the numbers as the names of characters or objects, such
as: 8 and 6 chased 14 all the way home.
6. Use Memory
Tricks: There are virtually an unlimited number of tricks that are available
or can be created to help a person remember better. A string around the finger
is a trick, and for some people it works. Other people may use the front
door to help them remember something. When they see the front door, they are
likely to remember something they're supposed to do before they leave (like get
their lunch money). Want to remember the names of the three greatest
philosophers of Ancient Greece? Use the word SAP - Socrates
- Aristotle - Plato - to help you remember. Want to remember which
months have 31 days? Make a fist and, as you recite the months, touch one
knuckle, then the space between knuckles, then a knuckle, and so on. When
you reach the 4th knuckle, go directly back to the first knuckle and continue.
Each of the knuckle months have 31 days.
7. Use Visual
Note-taking: Visual memory is usually a person's strongest memory system.
This is why people generally recognize a person's face easier than that person's
name. It is also easier to remember things that are grouped together. An
easy way of taking notes for later review is by drawing a visual mind map.
Place an oval in the middle of your paper and print the main subject inside it.
Then draw lines out from it for the information you need to remember. Continue
to branch the lines as needed to place related information together. Use
as few words as possible. Visual notes make reviewing fast and effective!
Another way to help make remembering easier is by drawing pictures. Draw a
picture of how one idea or fact relates to other ideas.
Systematic Review: By not reviewing, the information learned one day is
often forgotten the next day. It's like having a hole through which everything
drops out. The only way to plug the hole is to frequently review what is
learned until it becomes part of one's permanent memory system. This doesn't
mean more time studying because by learning in a way that a person won't forget,
it will no longer be necessary to learn the same thing over and over again! Make
a habit of distributing the time that you study. Budget your time so that you
spend a small amount of time each day on a subject rather than using all your
study time at once.
9. Identify How
You Learn Best: A person can learn in several different ways. Three
primary ways are to listen and learn, see and learn, or act on
something and learn from its results. Some people learn best when
listening, others by seeing, and still others by doing. Identify how you
learn best and start to utilize that way more. Most people, however, find that
they can learn most effectively when they use all three ways of learning.
Hearing alone is usually not as good as hearing and seeing together. And by
adding action to it, a person will gain more power still!
10. Shoot for
a Goal: Imagine a football game without goal lines! Or a basketball
game without baskets! Or a race without a finish line! Dull! Make
learning exciting by always shooting for a goal. The goal should be reachable,
but challenging. Can you now do 35 multiplication problems correctly in 5
minutes? Try for 40 next time. Did you get 80% of your spelling
words correct on your last test? Try for 85% or 90% -- whatever would be
challenging and fun for you to try next.
Picture Associations: We can dramatically boost our ability to remember
things if we can associate them with vivid pictures. This is one of the most
effective tricks people with outstanding memories use. For example, we can learn
and retain the meanings of words much more easily if we draw pictures to
12. Use Word
Power: Talking through difficult learning problems is like shifting into
overdrive. It can increase learning by 20%. Try it and see. Select a
difficult learning problem (math, history question, workbook page, etc.) and
attempt to work it without talking to yourself. Now select a similar
problem and talk about it as you do it. Can you feel the extra power?
Words help a person concentrate. Language is logical, so it increases one's
ability to think logically through problems. Because language is logical, it
will spotlight any gaps in a person's information or reasoning. These are
the areas a person can then ask questions about and reason through.
four components of Success Intelligence are highly interactive and
None are effective alone, and an improvement in one can
positively effect all the other areas of intelligence. We need to look at all four components
of Success Intelligence working together as a whole system. Everything we have discussed so
far in regard to how systems boost success apply. If you are reading this
on-line at the Learningsuccess.com web site, click on the titles below for
further information on that component of Success Intelligence. If you are
reading the book in print, see the resource chapters at the end.
Basic or Academic IQ (25%) x
Goal-directed IQ (Achievement Motivation &
Time Management) (25%) x Character
IQ (Character Traits & Success Habits (25%) x
Strategies IQ (Learning/Thinking Strategies & the Use of Tools and Support Systems)
(25%) = Achievement and Success
Notice the multiplication signs. That means the various components of Success
Intelligence are part of a system and the strength of one affects the
performance of all the others. The whole becomes much greater than the sum of
To illustrate, let’s rate each component on a scale of 0 to
10, with 5 being average and 10 being the highest. If any component is 0 or even 1, then success
will be severely limited or even non-existent. Assume in a particular case that
all components are below average: 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 = resulting in an 81 power
assume that we could raise one of the components by 2 points, perhaps
Goal-directed IQ: 3 x 5 x 3 x 3 = resulting
in a much better 135 power rating. If we then raise Character IQ by 3 points: 3 x 5
x 6 x 3 = resulting in an even better 270 power rating. Here is what would happen if we
additionally raised our Basic or Academic IQ rating by 1 and the Strategies
IQ by 2 points: 4 x 5 x 6 x 5 = resulting in a power rating of
Remember, that all the components of Success Intelligence can be developed and strengthened both inside school and out. Learning activities should be designed to help promote all of them
and should be an important concern of educators and parents alike. Imagine the
possibilities of increasing school achievement and life success when we do so!
You might want to evaluate your own
success power rating. After doing so, decide on a plan to raise one or
more components of your success equation. To do so, you need
information, resources, and support. So does every student today.
Unfortunately, such help is not available in today's primitive structure
of schooling. Not to leave you dangling, however, you can get a start at
It is important at this point to discuss some basics of how our
sensing and memory systems work together. We will then be in a better position
to understand more about success intelligence and in turn be ready to discuss
the fourth view of intelligence as multiple intelligences leading to knowledge
Active Learning, Multiple Intelligences, and the Knowledge Intelligence View
Beginning from birth and extending throughout life, people
interact with the environment and in so doing build what might be called knowledge
intelligence, which in its widest sense includes everything a person knows,
feels, and/or can do. This includes everything we have covered so far in Basic
Intelligence Skills and Success Intelligence, but we are now going to explain
the active learning and memory systems involved in acquiring or constructing
knowledge, how the concept of multiple intelligences fits in, and the importance
of providing for opportunities to develop knowledge intelligence in the area of one’s
preference and aptitude.
Sensory Register System (Filter for interaction potential)
As we interact with the environment, we are exposed every moment
tremendous amount of stimuli, but only a small portion of it ever
gets through to our conscious mind. Everything we are capable of seeing,
hearing, or otherwise sensing is checked out and stored for a split second in
our sensory register system. During that split second, we determine, usually
unconsciously, what is relevant and needs to be reacted to and what isn’t.
Whatever is determined to be irrelevant is dismissed as if it never occurred.
This can include information that hasn’t changed and therefore does not need a
new reaction. For example, the amount of air in a room is important to our
well-being and is constantly monitored using our sensory register system, but
only becomes relevant if it changes and requires us to take an action of some
kind. Much of what is relevant can be processed unconsciously and acted upon
with little or no conscious attention. For example, while driving a car we
engage in many corrective actions in response to stimuli and information that
often do not require our conscious attention. Next time you are driving, notice
the steering wheel and the many adjustments you make without conscious effort.
Even keeping our balance while standing involves numerous corrective actions
usually without our awareness. This is due to our having previously practiced
the relevant skills consciously until they became habits that can be
automatically initiated in response to a whole variety of circumstances. Before
those actions are learned sufficiently and become habitual, we have to
consciously think about and direct the many actions involved in driving a car or
standing without falling. We do not really become skillful at anything until the
supportive skills and actions become automatic and habitual.
That is why such things as models, imitation, motivation,
intention, prior knowledge, expectations, goals, and
challenges are important. If learning to
read, for example, is not considered relevant, then stimuli related to reading
will be ignored. Even the setting can be important. If learning math is
perceived as totally a school classroom activity, then the wealth of math
examples and stimuli outside the classroom will be ignored as if they didn’t
exist. We can learn to use our sensory registers more effectively by setting up
key types of things to which we want to be alert, and have at least a basic
understanding of the subject of interest. If we want our sensory register system
to help us learn about the dynamics of weather, then knowing certain basics such
as the names of different kinds of clouds will facilitate that happening. Having
clear goals and knowing what is important to notice is an almost effortless way
for us to greatly enrich our learning potential.
At times, something we determine is relevant needs our conscious
attention, and by directing our attention to it we use our conscious or
short-term memory system to process it.
Short Term Memory (Conscious Working Space)
One of the major characteristics of short-term memory, our
conscious working space, is that it is very short and very limited. It is like a
small working shelf upon which we are able to place only a small number of
items, but with this shelf the moment we direct our attention elsewhere,
everything is immediately shoved off. It is important in developing our success
power to come to terms with the reality of our limited conscious processing
power and our scarcity (therefore the great value) of attention. As Jerome
Perhaps the most pervasive feature of human intellect is
its limited capacity at any moment for dealing with information. There is a rule
that states that we have about seven slots, plus or minus two, through which the
external world can find translation into experience. We easily become
overwhelmed by complexity or clutter. Cognitive mastery in a world that
generates stimuli far faster than we can sort them depends upon strategies for
reducing the complexity and the clutter. But reduction must be selective,
attuned to the things that “matter.” (The Relevance of
It is important for educators to understand this limitation as
they plan how to teach their students. Too often, teachers can overload a
student’s ability to process what is being presented. It is even more
important for learners to realize this limitation and use strategies to best
cope with it. All of us have this limitation. We can only think about 7 plus or
minus 2 bits of information at any one time. That is why telephone numbers are seven
digits long. Try this experiment.
Have someone say a random list of digits to you at one-second intervals. By the
way, this is one of the basic intelligence skills tests covered by both the
Stanford-Binet and the Wechsler Intelligence Scales. Now, try it with someone
else. Present the following digits at one-second intervals: 3 – 9 – 7 – 1
– 4 – 3 – 8 – 0 – 2 – 8 – 6 – 5 – 2 – 8 – 4. That was
fifteen digits, and you probably observed the person you were testing starting
to become nervous and shaky near the time the seventh or eighth digit was given.
Another interesting phenomenon occurs when a person’s short-term memory
becomes overloaded. He or she not only can’t remember the additional digits,
but also probably loses them all. It is like a person trying to balance a
stack of pies. As each additional pie is placed on the stack, the person gets
more nervous and has a harder and harder time balancing the stack, until finally
the whole stack falls.
There are tricks and strategies a person can use to
increase his or her ability to recall a random list of digits.
The simplest would be to use a pencil and paper and write the information
so it can be referred to as needed. On a standardized intelligence test, this is
not allowed, but certainly in real life this can dramatically improve our
ability to recall information. There are also memory tricks or aids. On the
digit span test, this usually involves chunking or grouping several digits
together to make a chunk. If the fifteen digits could be made into five chunks,
then they would be much easier to remember. It also helps to connect these
chunks with some meaning or even a story line. For example, when I was 39 and my
father was 71 we received 43,802 telegrams saying we won $865,284. Of course,
you need to work on this type of strategy until you become so good at it that
you don’t have to use any of your precious working space thinking about the
strategy itself. Nervousness can also limit your working space capacity. A person can
use up several of the 7 + or – 2 bits of information space by thoughts of
worry, leaving even less space to process anything else.
The concept of chunking is the basic process we use to construct
higher and higher levels of understanding and the development of skills. In
learning to drive a car we are quite nervous at the beginning because we have to think about too
many things at one time. But as we learn basic driving skills, we chunk them
together as a system, and so don’t have to think of the sub-skills separately. We can
think of starting the car as one skill instead of the many sub-skills it
actually involves. In learning telegraphy, we first have to think of the dots
and dashes that make up the letters. The letter A is dot – dash, B is dash –
dot – dot. We become quickly overloaded. But after learning the patterns for
each letter to the point of complete mastery, we don’t need to think of the
dots and dashes anymore, but only the letters themselves. We have chunked to a
higher level. We can then chunk letters into words, words into phrases, phrases
into sentences, sentences into ideas. At some point, we become able to translate
Morse code at an amazing speed. To someone who hasn’t gone through this
chunking process, it might seem almost super-human, but it is actually a natural
process of how we progress from one level of understanding or skill to another.
Even Albert Einstein had to deal with the problem of a limited
short-term memory. It is reported that he would occasionally place his papers
and notes on a long table and run back and forth trying to increase his
short-term memory capabilities. He was a prodigious note taker and had a pad of
paper always conveniently available to catch any thoughts that might arise. His
growth of understanding grew by using the chunking process over a period of time
to continually add to his understanding in his chosen fields of study. Quite
interestingly, he claimed that most of his breakthrough discoveries did not
occur while consciously working on them. He made it a habit to purposely use his
unconscious long-term memory system and stream of thought, which have virtually
unlimited powers, to work for him in the areas of his interest and would alert
him at any time of day or night to possible breakthroughs. He could then process
those breakthroughs with his conscious working system.
It is important to realize that our conscious attention and
short-term memory is limited and will be filled at random by whatever attracts
our attention unless we purposely decide to use it for what is really important
to us. Many people will have months
or years go by without working on or dealing with important areas of their lives
simply because they didn’t consciously think about them. Their conscious
working space was always occupied by the unimportant. Without effectively using
our limited conscious workspace to plan and implement how to reach our goals and
solve our problems, we also leave our sensory register and long-term memory
systems without direction and therefore with weakened or no power to help us
learn, grow, and be successful.
Long Term Memory System
In contrast to the limited capacity of our conscious short-term
memory, our long-term memory system has virtually unlimited storage capacity. If
you stacked a sheet of paper on your desk for every potential cell connection in
your brain, how high would it go? To the moon? The sun? The edge of the solar
system? The edge of the galaxy? It would go way beyond that, way beyond even
What’s more, our long-term memory capacity grows with use.
Like a magical suitcase, the more you put into it the more you can put into it.
A medical doctor, because of all that he or she has previously learned, has even greater
capacity to learn and store even more information related to his or her medical
specialty. This is demonstrated by the
concept of information nets. Remember, information we encounter only
becomes knowledge if it can be connected and found useful with previous knowledge.
For example, if you had never visited a particular city before and knew none of
the streets or landmarks, everything seems confusing and difficult to learn. New
information has nothing to which to connect. Someone mentions a street, but
where is that street in relation to anything else? Now, consider a worse
situation. Let’s assume you didn’t even have the concept of streets,
landmarks, and spatial directions. You would even have less capability learning
how to get around in that city. But once we get our bearings, and we master
certain basic concepts and the locations of some of the major streets and
landmarks, additional information becomes much easier to learn and remember and
possibly even automatic in our day to day living. Information nets increase the
productivity and quantity of potential learning interactions. The long term
memory system operates on the principle: The more you learn, the more you can
The long-term memory system can process unlimited information
simultaneously. This is easily seen with examples of models and imitation. You
find yourself laughing in exactly the same manner as someone else. You didn’t
take laughing instruction, nor did you seemingly exert any energy in learning
this complex behavior. It just happened. Learning through imitation is a great
way to learn, but it requires suitable models. Much of what is learned through
imitation in childhood is mastered and extended by play. If you are observant of children in
play, you will often notice them trying out various roles, ways of doing
things, and reactions to what they have observed in their environment.
This fantastic ability to process unlimited information
simultaneously has at times been noticed in all of us. We suddenly have a
breakthrough in which we have reorganized what we knew and came up with new
insights with all their many ramifications already in place. Dreams can also
demonstrate this amazing ability. Can you imagine what would be involved if we
tried to compose and direct one of our dreams using our conscious mind?
Intricate plot development, unique characters, costumes, and set designs come
into being instantly as we relax asleep in bed.
There are numerous stories in history of amazing breakthroughs
and mental accomplishments using the power of the long-term memory system and
streams of thought. These breakthroughs often occurred while the person was
engaged in something quite different from what the breakthrough was about. Elias
Howe, the inventor of the sewing machine, had worked long and hard on his
invention, but his key breakthrough happened while asleep. In his dream,
cannibals had captured him and were dancing and jumping around him menacingly
waving their spears up and down. But not just ordinary spears; these spears each
had a hole in the tip. Howe awoke with the answer to the sewing machine. Place a
hole in the tip of the sewing needle! Archimedes, the Greek mathematician and
inventor who lived over two thousand years ago, made one of his great scientific
discoveries as he was sitting in his bath. He got so excited about it that he
jumped up and ran naked through the streets yelling, Eureka (I Got It!).
The great composer, Frederick Handel, had the entire music of The Messiah
appear in his mind in an instant and then spent the next 23 days and nights with almost
no food or rest to get it written down.
Our long-term memory system’s power to help us succeed is determined by the
organized knowledge that we acquire and retain. It becomes our knowledge intelligence.
The interest in studying knowledge intelligence was brought to the forefront
when researchers began studying how some chess masters could while blindfolded play
dozens of chess games simultaneously. They could also look at a chessboard for a
few seconds and remember the position of the pieces way beyond what the average
person could do.
Was this a matter of basic intelligence? When given
standardized intelligence tests, these chess masters on the average showed good
intelligence, but not exceptionally high. What, then, could explain their
remarkable powers? Pursuing the study further, it was found that chess masters
were only able to remember the position of chess pieces on a board at a
remarkable level when those pieces were placed in relation to chess strategies.
When the pieces were placed at random, chess masters could do little better than
anyone else. The conclusion was their remarkable feats were the result of knowledge intelligence at work.
This was dramatized in a major study published in 1985 led by Benjamin S. Bloom in which a
team of research workers at the University of Chicago … examined the
processes by which individuals who have reached the highest levels of
accomplishment in selected fields have been helped to develop their capabilities
so fully. The study included
pianists, sculptors, research mathematicians, research neurologists, Olympic
swimmers, and tennis champions. The conclusions have important implications for
the reform of education and our understanding of knowledge intelligence:
The study has provided strong evidence that no matter what
the initial characteristics (or gifts) of the individuals, unless there is a
long and intensive process of encouragement, nurturance, education, and
training, the individuals will not attain extreme levels of capability in these
particular fields. This research has raised questions about earlier views of
special gifts and innate aptitudes as necessary prerequisites of talent
development. (Developing Talent in Young People, p 3)
Similar results were found in a study of the child-rearing
practices of 60 mothers of exceptionally high-achieving children and adults in
Entertainment/performing arts, Business/politics, Science/scholarship, and
Arts/letters. The findings were published in 1980 in a book titled The
Roots of Success by Cynthia S. Pincus, Leslie Elliott and Trudy
Schlachter. It reported the need for a threefold parent commitment:
· Expect greatness
to unfold as your child grows up.
· Be intensely involved in your child’s development of abilities
and talents, especially in the early years.
· Show early recognition and enthusiastic support for your child’s
emerging special gifts, talents, and interests.
This also fits in with what Dr. Maxwell Maltz, who wrote Psycho
Cybernetics, recommended parents communicate to their children:
· You have tremendous hidden abilities just waiting to be developed.
· It is up to you to develop them.
· The more abilities and talents you develop, the happier you will
These findings have breathtaking implications for education. First,
our potential to learn and achieve is much higher than we had previously
supposed. As Jerome Bruner explains,
The range of man’s intellect,
given its power to be increased from the outside in, can never be estimated
without considering the means a culture provides for empowering mind. Man’s
intellect then is not simply his own, but is communal in the sense that its
unlocking or empowering depends upon the success of the culture in developing
means to that end. (Bruner, The Relevance of
Education, p 7)
Second, the motivation of the learner, given a
supportive and responsive environment, is self-rewarding and powerful.
Save in the artificial setting of the school, dominated as it is by
telling and a lack of guiding feedback, there is an extraordinary property of
self-reward about the act of learning during growth. The satisfaction of
curiosity seems to be self-rewarding among all primates. So, too, the
development of competence. More uniquely human, finally, is that mysterious
process whereby human beings pattern themselves on another and gain satisfaction
by maintaining the supposed standard of their model. The three self-rewarding
processes provide a motor for growth that is stalled only by repeated failure or
by an inability to determine how one is progressing at a task. This does not
mean, of course, that what a child learns is what is most empowering of his
capacities but, rather, what happens to be available. It is here that the
innovation of school and teacher can be critically important. (Bruner,
The Relevance of Education, p 14)
Multiple Intelligences and the Development of Specialized Knowledge
A basic premise of powerful systems is that they are composed of specialized subsystems, each contributing synergistically to the transformation of the whole
to become much more than the sum of its parts. In our productive society there
is a need for a wide variety of special talents, skills, and knowledge. We have
but to look around and see carpenters, electricians, plumbers, dentists,
doctors, lawyers, cab and bus drivers, engineers, programmers, actors and
actresses, geologists, politicians, police, teachers, etc. Each occupation
involves knowledge intelligence, which in many cases in this Knowledge Age
requires years of development. It is therefore vital for the well-being of
everyone in our complex society that learners from a young age be given rich
opportunities to explore, learn and interact with the specialized knowledge to
which they have particular interests and talents.
This is where the concept of multiple intelligences comes in. It is rather
simple, and somewhat obvious. People have different interests and aptitudes.
There are certain basic IQ skills that are important to everyone. We have
discussed that above. Beyond those basic skills, people have strengths and
weaknesses in what Howard Gardner describes as multiple intelligences. The
following is a list of the various intelligences identified so far and the
occupations that people strong in those intelligences may be inclined to pursue:
Verbal-Linguistic: involving words and language. (teacher,
religious leader, politician, writer)
Logical-Mathematical: involving numbers, mathematical thinking,
using the scientific method, deductive and inductive reasoning. (accountant,
statistician, economist, engineer, scientist, computer programmer)
Spatial: involving thinking in pictures and images, noticing visual
details, drawing, and sketching. (artist, photographer, architect,
decorator, tour guide, scout, mechanical engineer, draftsman)
Bodily-Kinesthetic: involving touch, movement, physical self,
sports, craftsmen, artisans, actors, mechanics, surgeons)
Musical: involving tone, beat, tempo, melody, pitch, sound, music
appreciation, composing, performing. (composer, musician, conductor, critic)
Interpersonal: involving body language, moods, voice, feelings,
noticing and responding to other people's feelings, desires, intentions, and
personalities. (social director, administrator, manager, negotiator,
teacher, salesperson, consultant, therapist, psychologist)
Intrapersonal: involving awareness of one's own strengths,
weaknesses, goals, and desires. (counselor, theologian, social worker,
self-employed business person, planner, artist, writer)
Naturalist: involving awareness and appreciation of natural
objects, plants, animals, ecological issues. (zoologist, botonist,
biologist, ecologist, veterinarian, gardener, ranger, farmer,
horticulturist, landscape designer, florist, nature photographer/artist)
An empowering education system needs to provide learning
opportunities in a wide variety of specialized areas from as young an age as
possible. We live in a meritocracy in which we reward those who have acquired
knowledge intelligence in the areas needed by our society. If we are to be fully
free as a people with equal opportunities to pursue our individual dreams and
enjoy the great benefits of living in our nation, then each person needs
adequate access to the means by which that knowledge intelligence can be
achieved. That is the challenge we will discuss in the next chapter.