I still remember my official IQ test. I guess they were quite popular in the fifties and my principal thought I needed one, so my parents gave their consent. A bald headed man with strange red streaks on his head came to give it to me. He rubbed his head during the test and I’m convinced that his behavior was such a distraction that it cost me at least a couple of points. He asked me a bunch of questions and showed me pictures and talked for what seemed like forever. He had me draw a picture of a person and was impressed by the details I included. (I know now that young children always forget the ears.)
The result of the test was that my parents sat in the principal’s office and discussed the pros and cons of moving me from the fifth grade to the seventh grade, so I guess I must have done pretty well. I know the number, but it isn’t that important. My mom wisely decided that I wasn’t emotionally or physically ready to be with seventh grade girls. She was afraid of what they might teach me and I think even more afraid of what seventh grade boys might teach me. I’ve said a prayer of thanks to her many times for that wisdom.
My mother’s decision that day taught me a life lesson I’ve never forgotten: our brains aren’t as important as what we do with them. I don’t think my mother’s “IQ” was as high as mine and she didn’t even finish high school, yet she was more intelligent, educated, and wise than most of my teachers. She nurtured her skills and read voraciously. If she didn’t know about something she found out as much as she could from books and other people. If she needed to make a decision she tried to base it on knowledge and prayer. She took time to think about things before she acted. It used to drive me crazy when she said, “I’ll think about it.” I knew that meant a delay of at least a day, and I could never wait that long!
My mother’s decision also showed me that my intelligence wasn’t the only significant factor in determining my success in life. My social interactions, my emotions, and my problem-solving skills were just as important to her as my brain and she knew I needed more time to develop. I was a head-strong young girl with her eyes already on boys and I had a hateful attitude toward many girls my age. I thought they were just plain “dumb”. Mom was always urging me to more understanding of other girls. I guess being raised with boys had its affect- I often acted with the harsh logic of a boy.
Sometimes I still do things that I deem “stupid” and they almost always relate to relationships with other people, not to things I can work out with my brain. I can hear Mom’s voice in my head urging me to be more understanding and kind.
I was thinking about all of this because parent/teacher conferences are coming up in a week. We will sit together and analyze the cognitive skills of these little students and determine how to help them succeed in reading and math. But I know some of the most successful children will be those who are kind and respectful and get along well with others. I have to remember to give them credit for those valuable skills and let their parents know that motivation, attitude, and perseverance are just as important as IQ.