I recently took a test which is supposed to give me a reasonable approximation of my “true IQ.” It only takes a few minutes. The result is my own business, and I invite the reader to find out an approximation with the understanding that the very fact that you are reading this blog, Piece of Mind, means that you are above average. The test is here.
Why do such tests exist? As a freshman in high school I was placed in a small section of the class at Billings Central Catholic High School, Billings, Montana, knows as the “honors” section. I did not last long. My family’s home life was not conducive to studying, and overwhelmed by distractions, the school officials decided I belonged with the regular kids. Once nice thing about that was the addition of two new class periods to my schedule, study hall and PE. Apparently the brightest kids needed neither.
I did not do well in the regular curriculum either, in fact would not discover that I had academic abilities until admission to the local college, Eastern Montana, now known as MSU-Billings. It was a tough way to grow up, but productive in the long run in that I missed out on the most important feature of American education, the dumbing down part. Schools are structured to minimize curiosity and maximize effort, forcing us to spend hours reading and regurgitating dull texts. An exciting world awaits without – one that does not use texts, but by the time the schools are done, we are trained to be incurious. In addition to tedious textbooks, we are taught to answer bells, walk in straight lines, and most importantly, be punctual. They are making employees, soldiers and bureaucrats. My every “tardy” was noted somewhere on the official record.
It is not an accident. The “successful” student in the United States will have the ability to cipher, skim a newspaper, read beach books, and succeed in a profession. But all other talents will remain under a bushel basket. After formal schooling those non-working hours are filled by television and sports. The employee is chained to a desk by need for health care and to pay off student loans. There’s also that thirty-year mortgage and a large vehicle with recreational equipment attached behind, courtesy of compound interest that most Americans do not understand.
The educated citizen will also vote.
Education should be guided curiosity. The basics of communication, reading and speaking and writing, come easily to all of us. They are no more than keys to unlock doors. By the time the schools get done with us, we barely know the doors are there.
Why the IQ test? No doubt it came about in the early 20th century, along with the factory school. The industrial revolution and imperialism meant that they needed factory workers and soldiers and people to manage them. IQ tests are used for sorting and culling us for employment purposes.
The test I linked to here is about abstractions, number sequences, pattern recognition. Some of us can do that sort of thing better than others. That is useful information for those on the lookout for middle managers, accountants, lawyers and technicians.
The people who built the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki no doubt scored well on these tests, and made a really effective weapon, and had no knowledge or ability to fathom or to question the authority system used to maim and murder hundreds of thousands of innocent people. It takes a well-oiled education machine to extract such abilities from people without giving them useful knowledge.
By the way, people who design and build our roads, bridges, cars and homes are far more useful to our society than those geniuses who were culled out of the system and put into the Manhattan Project
PS: See: Prussian Education System