A-Mus­ings

Mus­ings are thoughts, the thought­ful kind. For the pur­pose of th­ese ar­ti­cles, a-mus­ings are thoughts that might amuse, en­ter­tain and even en­lighten.

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Michael Walker

IQ - In­tel­li­gence Quo­tient

Ihave a sneaky feel­ing that IQ must be one of the least un­der­stood terms in psy­chol­ogy. It is said that those with high IQs are bet­ter able to ma­nip­u­late, process and an­a­lyze in­for­ma­tion. The first in­tel­li­gence test was de­vised in 1905 to help chil­dren when they started school. By the 1950s, ev­ery­one mea­sured their IQ scores both at home, at work and es­pe­cially at par­ties; all this, of course, be­fore the ad­vent of tele­vi­sion quiz shows el­e­vated ir­rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion to No­bel-Lau­re­ate lev­els.

Ac­cord­ing to some, one's IQ changes very lit­tle af­ter sta­bi­liz­ing at the age of 16, per­haps in­creas­ing a lit­tle un­til the age of 30, and there­after de­creas­ing. Note that a per­son with a high IQ is not nec­es­sar­ily a great stu­dent or high per­former. Peo­ple with high IQs tend to have a “bad” mem­ory, which is where for­get­ful sci­en­tist car­toon char­ac­ters come in.

Ac­cord­ing to stud­ies in more than 80 coun­tries con­ducted be­tween 2002 and 2006 by a British Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chol­ogy and a Fin­nish Pro­fes­sor of Po­lit­i­cal Science, the high­est IQ scores seem to be found in Ja­pan, South Korea, China, Sin­ga­pore, Viet­nam, and Thai­land where the av­er­age IQ is 105 points. Euro­pean coun­tries, the U.S., Canada, Aus­tralia and New Zealand come in at 100. South Asia, North Africa and the ma­jor­ity of Latin Amer­i­can coun­tries have an av­er­age of 85. African coun­tries in gen­eral and the Caribbean have an av­er­age IQ below 70.

Max Fisher from the Washington Post com­piled statis­tics of all No­bel Prize win­ners since 1901. Per­haps not sur­pris­ingly, 83% of all No­bel lau­re­ates came from Western Europe, the U.S., Canada, Aus­tralia and New Zealand. Africa had 16 No­bel lau­re­ates, while Asia, the most pop­u­lous re­gion in the world, claimed only 49 No­bel prizes. The Caribbean, Cen­tral and Latin Amer­ica had only 39.

To my mind, peo­ple are born equal the world over, but what life of­fers them from the mo­ment they leave the womb ba­si­cally seals their fates, de­spite count­less cases to prove that peo­ple can rise from ad­ver­sity and suc­ceed. Since an­tiq­uity, schol­ars have dis­cussed racial dif­fer­ences in in­tel­li­gence, per­son­al­ity, and be­hav­iour. Around 200 A.D. the Greek physi­cian Galen, which in­ci­den­tally is Swedish for crazy, wrote that black Africans are less in­tel­li­gent than Euro­peans. In the 13th cen­tury the Per­sian ge­og­ra­pher Nasir al-Din Tusi as­serted that black Africans were less in­tel­li­gent than apes, which was go­ing a bit too far even for an an­cient Ira­nian. Sir Fran­cis Gal­ton in his 1869 'Hered­i­tary Ge­nius' con­cluded that Clas­sic Greeks were the most in­tel­li­gent peo­ple to have walked the earth; low­land Scots were slightly brighter than the English; sub-Sa­ha­ran Africans were un­in­tel­li­gent, and Aus­tralian Abo­rig­ines the least in­tel­li­gent of races. Gal­ton con­sid­ered the Chi­nese to be highly in­tel­li­gent. In an 1873 let­ter to The Times he wrote, “The Chi­na­man is en­dowed with a re­mark­able ap­ti­tude for a high ma­te­rial civ­i­liza­tion. He is seen to the least ad­van­tage in his own coun­try, where a tem­po­rary dark age still pre­vails, which has not sapped the ge­nius of the race though it has stunted the de­vel­op­ment of each mem­ber of it by a rigid en­force­ment of an ef­fete sys­tem of clas­si­cal ed­u­ca­tion which treats orig­i­nal­ity as a crime.”

Bu de­spite the high IQ of Ori­en­tals, ‘Euro­peans' pi­o­neered the in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion and made vir­tu­ally all the in­tel­lec­tual ad­vances in science, math­e­mat­ics, and tech­nol­ogy in the last 500 years or so, while from around 1500 B.C. to A.D. 1500, the Chi­nese were more ad­vanced than Euro­peans. When Euro­peans were still liv­ing on sub­sis­tence agri­cul­ture, the Shang dy­nasty was sus­tained by do­mes­ti­cated mil­let, rice, pigs, cat­tle, sheep, wa­ter buf­falo, and chick­ens in towns with sub­stan­tial build­ings, bronze uten­sils, and glazed pot­tery turned on a wheel. They used cowry shells for money and de­vised a writ­ten lan­guage that formed the ba­sis of to­day's Chi­nese char­ac­ters. Later, the pop­u­la­tion of the Han dy­nasty of China and Korea lived in cities linked by roads and canals; they built the Great Wall and man­u­fac­tured iron ploughs, cook­ing stoves, tools and weapons, silk, carts, and ships. Man­darins were the ad­min­is­tra­tors. A sys­tem of com­pet­i­tive writ­ten ex­am­i­na­tions was in­tro­duced to re­cruit an in­tel­lec­tual elite for the Man­darin class. For some 1,500 years the cur­ricu­lum for th­ese ex­am­i­na­tions com­prised as­tron­omy, math­e­mat­ics, Chi­nese lit­er­a­ture, and Chi­nese his­tory. In the early 14th cen­tury the Man­darins re­spon­si­ble for the cur­ricu­lum de­cided to drop as­tron­omy and math­e­mat­ics. From this time on­wards the ‘Man­dar­i­nate' con­sisted of men with lit­er­ary in­ter­ests but no knowledge of as­tron­omy, math­e­mat­ics or science in an au­thor­i­tar­ian state op­posed to eco­nomic and in­tel­lec­tual progress.

The les­son from all this is clear: Cur­ricu­lum re­form is some­thing that can­not be un­der­taken lightly. What our chil­dren learn in schools to­day de­ter­mines the fu­ture of our na­tion. End of ser­mon!

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