Ways of looking at a problem

A friend posted this “IQ” problem on Facebook.


Now I have always had my doubts about the validity of the questions on an IQ Test.

I started to try and solve the problem using algebra. I was taught at school to transfer a term to the other side of the equals sign.
I tried this and got myself immersed in combinations of 76 + 38 or 76- 38, which yielded meaningless answers when I considered the third  division problem to solve.

I therefore decided to completely revise my thinking. I ignored the top of the problem that said IQ test, I slowed down and I thought about things carefully and with no pressure of time.

I will not give away the answer because I felt I would leave it to my readers to try it themselves or maybe (if you teach) with students.
It does though raise a number of things that concern me about IQ tests in particular and tests generally.

(1) The pressure of time is a problem. Whenever we are forced to hurry in order to finish we induce a “fight or flight” reaction in our brain that can often lead to mental shutdown, that “can’t think of a thing” moment.

(2) We often use taught techniques that can be misleading or just plain wrong.

(3) We see the problem as important only for the answer and the mark for correctness as the end of the process.

(4) The “mark” we get can determine our position in school, possibly  chance of a job.

I have always hated (and done quite poorly) at IQ Tests. They have never really measured intelligence but have always measured test preparation and taking ability. If we can continue to let them  dominate our student’s futures we will suffer from holding back the potential of so many who may, if given the chance, be great contributors to our society.

The real shame of the question above is the potential it has to be a basis for group discussion and problem solving. Just take away the opening “IQ TEST” and give the students time to think and explore and this becomes a useful learning process not a timed torture!

What Music Does to Your Brain While You Work



The above link is to a really informative and practical article on the effects of music on practically all aspects of our life.

I was particularly pleased to see that it was mostly based on recent research in neuroscience, a subject that I have been studying of late which I feel has a lot to contribute to our society in the future.

I was particularly interested to see the theory that music started as a social process and has great advantages in facilitating effective group work.

There is much in the article that can inform effective practice at home, in education and at work.

The Anne Frank Declaration


I came across a post on Facebook from an organisation that I follow, The Social Psychology Network. They announced that they had ,as an organisation, signed “The Anne Frank Declaration”.

I followed their link where you can download the document that can be signed and presented so that everyone can see it.
The words are as follows:

I declare that:

I will stand up for what is right and speak out against what is unfair and wrong

I will try to defend those who cannot defend themselves

I will strive for a world in which our differences will make no difference – a world in which everyone is treated fairly and has an equal chance in life.

I would like to see  all schools download and  sign and present this declaration proudly in their entrance foyer along with the pictures of sports success and certificates stating that they are a healthy school!

One child who did sign the Declaration was Josh from Redbridge, London, whose report for the BBC can be seen at:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/cbbcnews/hi/club/your_reports/newsid_3895000/3895801.stm.