OK So You're Smarter Than Your Grandparents; Now What?

Chances are your IQ score is 20 points higher than your grandparents.

That’s according to the Flynn Effect, the political scientist who discovered average IQ scores in the West have steadily risen over the last 100 years. A conclusion which brings us to what we call today our best-and-brightest.

From Washington, Harvard and the Yankees in the East to Silicon Valley, Stanford and the Giants in the West, that’s who we want. Who we pay the big bucks. Who we say we’ll follow. But wait a minute — how do we actually define best-and-brightest? What do these people look like? And how can we spot them?

Couple reasons why so many more are out there. Better nutrition, better healthcare, better problem-solving experiences ranging everywhere from playing video games to manipulating computers to having to make sense of complexities like the Harry Potter series.

However, once we identify the best-and-brightest IQs, now what….?

Here’s where we run into a glitch. While Flynn’s research shows “high IQ scores correlate with high grades and good job performance,” Linda Gottfredson of the University of Delaware argues “….pure intelligence is a useful tool, but not a virtue.” In an especially challenging statement she adds: “In other words, people today might be better problem-solvers on paper than previous generations, but that doesn’t mean they will be willing to do what’s necessary to, say, solve the problems the US economy faces today.”

That concern comes from results like the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking. Here there is evidence that while IQs remain on the rise, for the last 20 years children’s ability to come up with original ideas and put them into practice has been “spiraling downward.” Especially among children grades 1 through 6 ever since 1990.

College professors are about as plentiful as bloggers — which makes you wonder about their value! In any case, here’s what Professor Kyung Hee Kim of the William & Mary School of Education has to say. Examining the Torrance Tests, she told USA Today: “There’s something wrong with today’s standards-obsessed schools and legislators. Creative students cannot breathe. They are suffocated in schools, leading in the long run to under-achievement.”

When I was teaching at the dramatic dawn of the media & computer age, I often felt our kids were coming to school to have their educations interrupted. John Ruskin found the right words for my fear: “What we think, what we know, even what we believe is in the long run of little consequence to our world. The only thing of consequence is what we do…!”

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  • Hmmmmm .... if my IQ is supposed to be that much better than my grandparents {who were born in the century before the last one} - why then how come my "Common Sense" oft eludes me .... and my level of joy does not seem any greater than theirs was when families spent time together .... Methinks that the 'slippage' if any in the individuals in society is directly attributable to a very apparent lack of "Society" in its smaller less nebulous sense --- namely --- 'The Nuclear Family' and the 'magic' that it encompassed for millions of us around a dining table, at a community function or even in our moments of leisure ..... The 'Magic' being found in a desire to 'learn' ... a desire that was held as being worthy of effort .... and standards of conduct and approaches to civic responsibilities that were somewhat universally understood .... regardless one's race. creed or political inclination.

    The millions of youth in the current generation is not so much worse and they are 'salvageable' .... for they are certainly the victims of neglect .... and our generation has had some hand in that ‘neglect’ … especially when we allow the disintegration of opportunities for education and employment go tumbling into the abyss .... work and study was a way of life at one time and we all took it as a standard ... we could get back to that with some effort put in by all ... starting at the leadership level ... by seeing those 'leaders' think first of others (in the millions) and enacting projects and programs that heal and build .... Oops! Time to climb down off of my soapbox .... why .... why .... I'm beginning to sound like my Grandparents!

  • Say, sounding like your grandparents might be just what more of us need. When I look back, I admit their world's flaws and failures...but somehow I see more of their aspirations and achievements...overcoming even more hurdles than ours today...so what you say here resonates with me....now here's the question: will WE someday be looked back upon with this same kind of respect??

  • "will WE someday be looked back upon with this same kind of respect??" ..... yes indeed .... one wonders .....

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