Friday, January 9, 2015

"This I Believe: A Different Kind of Genius" by Sofia

This December, Advanced Composition students studied, wrote, and recorded audio essays. Students wrote and recorded their own "This I Believe" essays inspired by the weekly This I Believe Podcast. While we're publishing the text of each essay below, we strongly encourage you to listen to each student's audio essay for a more intimate experience.

I used to take those multiple intelligence quizzes all the time. In school and out, I’d take them again and again and try to find new ones. I wanted to find out more about myself, yes, but what I really wanted was to get the answer I was looking for. There were mixed results. In many aspects, I’m entirely average. Mathematically and kinesthetically, I’m only okay. My logic skills are just good enough to get through tests. I’m a decent artist and a good writer, but I’d never consider myself a genius in my art. Natural intelligence and musical intelligence rank pretty low for me, and spatial intelligence isn’t even in question- I could get lost in my own neighborhood. It seemed to me that I didn’t have many strengths at all. 

I didn’t want to call myself stupid. Nobody does, of course. However, the truth of the matter is that, from a pessimistic point of view, we're all stupid. That's not to say that everyone is useless at math or gets all F's, because clearly that's not the case, we have engineers and physics professors. We've split the atom and received photos from Mars, but that says nothing about intelligence as a whole. I believe that intelligence has many forms, and that they should all be viewed as equally important.

Most people respect the intelligence and authority of those that know math and science, those that can learn anything from a book and get top grades. These people are generally the ones regarded as “smart” by society. They understand numbers and their intelligence can be measured by them- by scores on tests. What people don’t seem to realize is that even these people can lack in many aspects. Someone who does well in school may be terrible at socializing and reading peoples’ expressions, and may have no idea how to think in other ways. I thought that the only valuable intelligences, the ones I had to have, were mathematical and logical. I believed that the other intelligences didn’t really count. It took me years to recognize that this isn’t true. Joining different clubs and teams really helped me find out my strengths. I’m in many, but the most formative has been speech. Learning to use new skills has been an important part of my experience here. Making connections from kids’ tv shows and old poems to social inequality and human nature, and then conveying these connections to an audience are the two major elements of speech, and I’ve realized that that’s something I’m really naturally good at. 

Through all of this, I’ve learned that I’m not entirely hopeless- I do have some strengths, namely intra-personal and what’s called existential intelligence. I think best in the big picture, and I have the ability to understand myself and my own place in the world. I like asking big questions that I can’t answer entirely. The fact that I ranked high on these two strengths make sense to me- thinking in this way comes easily.

Different intelligences manifest themselves in different people. It’s time to stop thinking that the label smart is only applicable to a select few. In the words of Albert Einstein, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Let’s treat more people like they’re geniuses.

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