My I.Q. Test

A couple of days ago I took an online I.Q. Test. I did very well, getting a score at the end of 160, which they said was “Einstein Level”!

In the past I have taken a number of I.Q. tests and have generally returned a score of about 110 which makes me just above average.

Now, has retirement and the chance to study suddenly given me a boost to my thinking skills so that I have transformed, at the age of 61, with my brain cells dying off in droves, into some sort of genius? I do not think so.

How then can I account for the result. Well, before you say the test was easy, it obviously had questions that any average person could answer that would give an inflated result that did not match  true “abilities”, let me say the questions were tough, my wife, not lacking in ” intelligence” took the test and achieved a score of below 100! Some of my respected fellow educationists achieved scores of 120, 130.

No, the reason for my high score was that I had unlimited time and the comfort of taking the test in my own home. There was no clock constantly against me, I had a calmness that rarely, if ever, existed when I took ( and frequently underachieved) in numerous tests throughout my life.

It made me think about the whole “testing” philosophy that has so dominated school and indeed work for so many of us for so long. What does a test in a communal, time-driven and oppressive environment prove? It maybe proves that you have the personal characteristics to overcome the hindrances presented by a test. It does not though actually give an accurate representation of the capacity of those people who find test taking a nightmare.

All of this does not take into consideration the bigger question of whether an I.Q. test result really gives anything other than a narrow picture of the true “intelligence” of a person, which might (and indeed some would argue should) include, emotional, social and creative intelligences.

In a society where Mr Gove and Mr Duncan seem to feel that testing children to the limit of their endurance is somehow life enhancing and will produce the kind of people we need to help us solve the numerous problems that our world has, maybe we need to reflect on the fact that there are so many out there who will not get a true result under the conditions that we put them through and that these disenchanted people might just contain within their midst the answers that we need in order to survive. Can we really afford a test culture such as the oppressive Chinese system that the Chinese themselves are now reversing to take us into the future?

I did not celebrate my 160 score. I just sat and wondered at what might have been if I had the time and the environment to prove what I was capable of. I wondered about the lost potential and realised that what’s done is done, that history cannot be rewritten. This is not the case though for those preschool children who have their futures ahead of them. Are we going to give them the chance to shine and understand what they can do and how they can contribute or are we going to tread on the dreams of so many  by the tyranny of testing?

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