What is Smart?

EinsteinLet’s put a poisonous, human-potential-stifling myth to rest…

Contrary to the IQ fundamentalist view… that intelligence is biologically-determined and fixed over time… all reputable research shows that intelligence is adaptable and expandable with the right kind of effort and experience. In other words, if you use your brain the right way and expose your brain to the right stuff, you get smarter.

The you-either-have-it-or-you-don’t school views intelligence in very narrow terms (with a bias towards analytical skills that are measured using things such as an IQ test) and ignores (or rejects) the crucially important fact that human beings have something called agency.

Agency means that we can, if we so choose, play an active part in the learning process… by seeking knowledge, evaluating knowledge, constructing knowledge, and applying knowledge.

Analytical skills are important, but so are many other assets (do I dare to call them talents?)… such as honesty, curiosity, imagination, creativity, conviction, perseverance, passion, empathy, resilience, and devotion, to name but a few.

In this broader view, the most authentic measure of intelligence is the degree to which one is successful at living a meaningful life.

Successfully intelligent people are causes, not merely products. They recognize their strengths and weaknesses and use flexible strategies to achieve their dreams given the uniquely blessed and burdened context of their own lives. As such, there is no single definition of “success” and therefore no single way to define or measure “smart”.

In summary, intelligence is not some fixed, measurable quantity. Intelligence is an eminently human process in search of meaning… a process of interacting with and influencing one’s world in service to one’s authentic dreams. Intelligence, in the most profound sense, is an attitude toward this mysterious opportunity called life. It ain’t all about how “smart” your brain is; it’s about what you choose to do with the brain you’ve got.

Education Existentialism

Frank J Peter View All →

A uniquely burdened and blessed citizen of the world thinking and acting out loud!

4 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Did you write this Frank or is it a quote?
    It is so relevant to me in several contexts & the timing of its posting is PERFECT!
    If you wrote it thank you for your wisdom, if someone else did thanks for sharing it.
    I hope all is wonderful with you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • My own words, yes, but inspired by exemplary doers past and present from all walks of life! For this I feel grateful to receive… and privileged to pass along… the message! All the best to you in travels and life, Nat!


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