Brigid: Mrs. Kellerman, why is it that some children perform much better than others at school?
Mrs. Kellerman: Obviously, it can't be denied that certain children are brighter than others, but it's not as simple as that. A lot of emphasis is placed on intelligence measured by tests—so-called I.Q. tests, which only measure certain types of intelligence.
Brigid: Such as?
Mrs. Kellerman: Basically linguistic and numerical skills—or reading and mathematics, to put it plainly—which is unfortunate because some children are bound to suffer. A good example was a friend of mine's son who was kept out of the top class at school because of his average I.Q.—that's around 100. His father, though he had no idea his son was going to be an architect, always said he was a clever child. Apparently he was able to picture things in his mind and draw accurately at a very early age. The point is that his university life might not have been so difficult if his ability had been recognized sooner.
Brigid: What you're saying, then, is that some children have abilities that are not easy to measure, that aren't appreciated by many schools.
Mrs. Kellerman: Precisely. And if these skills are not spotted sufficiently early, they cannot be developed. That's why, in my view, there are so many unhappy adults in the world. They are not doing the things they are best at.
Brigid: What are these other kinds of intelligence, and how can we recognize them in our children?
Mrs. Kellerman: Well, take musical talent. Many children never get the chance to learn to play an instrument but, while they might not become great artists or composers, they may get a lot of pleasure and satisfaction. Musically gifted children are fascinated by all kinds of sounds—car horns, animal noises and so on. And they can easily recognize tunes and sing them in key.
Brigid: How can a parent encourage them?
Mrs. Kellerman: Sing to them and teach them new songs. Buy a piano or even a cheap instrument such as a recorder. If you can afford it, send them to lessons as soon as possible. Play recordings of different instruments to them.
Brigid: What about a child who is good at sport? Could that be described as a form of intelligence?
Mrs. Kellerman: Most certainly. We psychologists call it 'motor', or bodily, intelligence. These children move gracefully and handle objects skillfully. A child who finds it easy to take things apart and use various tools may well become an engineer with the right encouragement. We should give them models to make and take them to science museums. However, unless these children are also good with words and numbers, they will probably not do well in school examinations.
Brigid: Is there anything a parent can do to help in this case?
Mrs. Kellerman: Yes. It may be worth spending money on private lessons. But, you know, hardly anyone is good at everything. In my opinion a child should be judged on his individual talents. After all, being happy in life is putting your skills to good use, no matter what they are.
Teacher: I think there are a lot of reasons why it's good for children to read. Er ... Not just reading for pleasure, but all of the subjects, no matter what subject it is, involve some reading, even if it's just art. (Mmm.) They have to read the directions to do an art project, and ... ah. Social Studies they have to read. Science they have to read. And the more they read, ah, the easier, ah, the more their vocabulary will expand, and the better the ... they'll do in their other subjects. Erm ... Also for, for pleasure, erm, es, er, especially here in Puerto Ordaz where there aren't very many things to do. In ... instead of being out doing something they shouldn't be doing, ah, they can choose reading as a hobby.
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