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Are you hoping to immerse your two-year old in a full-time Chinese immersion program, teaching him the flags of the world with flashcards, or starting Singapore Math already? Are you breastfeeding for an extended period of time and making sure you all sit down for family meals after your little one is weaned? Are you doing all this in the hope that your child will have excellent IQ scores and achieve academic success?
It may be time for another look at reality.
What Are IQ Tests, Really?
What do IQ tests measure? Ask many people this question, and most will reply that IQ tests measure somebody's general intelligence (in comparison to the rest of the population, they may or may not add). Reality is both more complex and more interesting. First developed in France by Alfred Binet to identify which pupils were likely to need extra help getting through the school system after compulsory schooling was introduced at the start of the 20th century, IQ tests weren't meant to offer bragging points or figure out which students were gifted at all.
David Wechsler, an American psychologist, took a broader view of intelligence as "the global capacity of a person to act purposefully, to think rationally, and to deal effectively with his environment" and took a modified version of Binet's original test to a whole new level by the 1950s, when he created his own test.
Scores for IQ tests are now determined by measuring someone's particular score against that of other same-age individuals in bell-curve fashion and much like infant weight charts. If you score 100 on an IQ test, that means your score is better than half of your peers as well as worse than half of your peers.
They measure, rather than someone's overall intelligence, how well someone performs on an IQ test, in other words those academic abilities measured by the test which that person is able to display on the day of testing. Not only does an IQ test not have some magical ability to provide an objective look into someone's innate intelligence, it also fails to even test such important areas as creativity, practical intelligence, and emotional intelligence.
In addition, IQ tests also fail to reveal what a person's true potential is, even in the narrow academic sphere it seeks to measure in the first place. And that's before we even get to the bit where questions posed on IQ tests have a single correct answer, much like the standardized tests offered to elementary school students, whereas in "real life", it's actually divergent thinkers, those who offer out of the box solutions, who tend to have the highest potential.
The IQ test might have an almost unruinable reputation, but does it really deserve that?