There’s more than one kind of intelligence

October, 2015

The eighth graders at Boston Latin School were given IQ tests.  They didn’t tell us the results but years later, in the 11th grade, our homeroom teacher left our student files on his desk when he left the room and we immediately opened them up and found our scores.

My score was 141, which was good, but I was 11th highest in my home room.  Three kids had IQs of 168 (all of them skipped senior year and went directly to Harvard or MIT).

The lowest score in the room was 107.  You weren’t supposed to be able to graduate from Latin School with less than 120; and almost two-thirds of the kids who started with us in seventh grade had already left.

But this kid with 107 was not only still there, he was in an advanced math class and had better grades than I did.  I think he graduated 7th in a class of about 300.  Not only that, but he was a really nice guy with good social skills.

I could see why they didn’t tell us our scores in the 8th grade.  If this kid had known his score then he might have given up before he realized that he was more than capable of doing excellent work.

I also realized that there are great limitations on IQ tests.   The kids with the highest IQs in my homeroom had the best grades but the lowest was right behind them.

Many years later I was at an Army Reserve Meeting doing my job as company clerk, grateful that my unit hadn’t been called up for Vietnam.  The supply sergeant, Phil DiCecca as I recall, came into the headquarters where I worked and said:

“We were bored so we decided to browse the 201s [personnel files] and we were shocked to find out that according to the Army you have the highest IQ in the unit – 152.”

“Shocked?   Thanks a lot, Phil.  Do I look like a dumb shit to you?”

He was embarrassed, but I let him know I was only kidding.  I was surprised myself as we had several lawyers and people with other advanced degrees in the unit.

The lesson for me was that IQ scores, which are supposed to be fixed over a lifetime, actually change as you get older and more experienced.  Mine had risen 11 points in about 12 years.

Much later I read a book called “Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman which was based on the work of Howard Gardner at Harvard.  His thesis was that there are multiple intelligences and IQ measures only one of them.   I think he’s right.   Here’s the entry from Wikipedia:

In 1983, Howard Gardner’s Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences? introduced the idea that traditional types of intelligence, such as IQ, fail to fully explain cognitive ability. He introduced the idea of multiple intelligences which included both interpersonal intelligence (the capacity to understand the intentions, motivations and desires of other people) and intrapersonal intelligence (the capacity to understand oneself, to appreciate one’s feelings, fears and motivations).


Please follow and like us:

Leave a Reply