So Forbes magazine has contributed to shaking up the way we view the world (and raise children) in a recent article that declares Intelligence is Overrated: What You Really Need to Succeed.
The article notes that there has been this strong focus on IQ (intelligence quotient), which they define as an indicator of logical reasoning ability and technical intelligence, when IQ pales in comparison to EQ (emotional intelligence), MQ (moral intelligence) and BQ (body intelligence).
And this is the time where we cover our ears to block out the shrieks of all those parents stuffing this and that potion marketed as brain food down the throats of their common entrance and CXC candidates as they usher them from one after class to the next.
We also need to give ample room so that all those parents who are trying to strike a balance may dance a jig.
Where do I fall in this divide? Well, my kids are not at the age of standardised tests, but I understand the anxiety. In other words, let me answer my own question with another question: how do you like my split?
The article advocates for an “investment” in strengthening emotional, moral and body intelligence, saying, “these concepts may be elusive and difficult to measure, but their significance is far greater than IQ.
By definition, EQ is being aware of one’s own feelings and the feelings of others and appropriately using emotions. MQ is about integrity, how you handle responsibility, and how you treat yourself and others. BQ, meanwhile, is understanding your body, loving your body, and caring for your body.
Basically, all of this speaks to balance, which we know is easier said than done. For instance, entrenched gender and cultural norms force us to wring out, at an early age, most, if not all, signs of emotional intelligence in our boys. We hold dear to grin and bear it; boys don’t cry; toughen up; more brawn, less brains; and other such spoken and unspoken mores.
As for morality, well we love laying claim to being a Christian society, but, truth be told, in many aspects, we say and live the creed the end justifies the means. We often hold up, as examples of success, those persons who have the most money, power and influence, without ever asking how they came by the same.
Last summer, my younger brother, himself the parent of a pre-teen, was lamenting how he wished he understood then what he knows now: that going to school wasn’t so that he could learn to earn; it was so that he could dictate what he earns, how he earns it and where his place in society would be.
I admit to being puzzled by the mixed message we sent to our children, especially the boys, when we tell them, overwhelmingly, that the aim of going to school is so they can provide. We then turn around and scratch our heads when they ditch school to make the kind of money that grown men with moral compasses only dream of.
But back to the IQ, EQ, MQ and BQ story, I’d love to see how we treat with this somewhat new world order. I say somewhat new, because as I type, I am recalling a particular all-boys school which, a few years ago, gave the top student designation to a rounded young man who had fewer “subjects” than the runner-up. But I can also remember some people crying foul.
Many of us have some ways to go, but the good thing is we can start the journey today.
There’s this particular fellow with whom I have a running repartee. I can just see him rolling his eyes now, and I anticipate his reaction, where he will tell me that I am, once again, trying to make boys “soft.”
I keep telling him that we’re not dealing with black and white; that the choices aren’t machismo or sap. Likewise, under the banner of education, we ought to be drilling more into our children’s heads then reading, writing and ‘rithmetic.