How intelligent are you? I know how to tell…

‘Intelligent’ – an adjective. What picture or skill-sets come to mind when you hear the word?

It describes a person who has a  good mental capacity, one who is quick to understand and is characterised by sound thought and good judgement – all of us have this capacity (It is different from ‘intellectual’ – which describes the person who has a particular capacity, rather than the application of the ability). Way back in the ancient era, between 6 000 and 10 000 BC, King Solomon wrote many proverbs or short sayings that still provide guidance, often about wisdom, knowledge and understanding.

Intelligent people are always ready to learn, their ears are open to knowledge.

So the intelligent person is identified by the desire to keep on learning. If Solomon was around today he would probably call this person a ‘life-long learner’.

It doesn’t matter what sort of intelligence a person possesses.  Ken Robinson in his book The Element: How finding your passion changes everything talks about the ‘hierarchy of subjects’ that our society regards as important, over those that are less important. He writes: “At the top of the hierarchy are mathematics, science and language skills. In the middle are humanities. At the bottom are the arts. In the arts there is another hierarchy: music and visual arts usually have a higher status than theatre and dance.” Our system of learning, at the most important foundational period in the learner’s life (from birth to 18 years) values more highly certain kinds of critical analysis and reasoning, usually with words and numbers, yet our creative intelligence is so much more than that.

An intelligent person – does the same picture or skill set come to mind?

So, on what basis might we determine how intelligent a person may be?… The proverb doesn’t say:

Intelligent people are always ready to teach, their mouth is open to share what they know to everyone within earshot.

No, the intelligent person:

  • possesses an ability or abilities in a wide range of arenas
  • is constantly ready and always seeking to learn more
  • adds value to whatever sphere of influence they have
  • are receptive, listening for fresh insight

And most importantly of all, to the intelligent person…there is still so much to learn.

It’s easy – to be intelligent, be ready to learn (and try and keep your mouth shut).

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