Theories of intelligence can be linked all the way back to Plato.  He believed that intelligence was like a ball of wax: size, hardness, moistness and purity.  For 1500 years the Greeks and Romans thought that to be intelligent you have to have a tempered body this meant; four humours, blood, phlegm and black and yellow bile.  However knowledge on intelligence is very incomplete and even theorists cannot agree.

The first test of human intelligence was Simon and Binet in 1905.  The believed that intelligence is learned and can be misguided.  They created a test which would support struggling learners.  Their mental test was created to be used in school and work places.  They reflect a child’s level of performance in school tasks.  The test compared the mental achievements of high and low achieving children the same age and from this is what determined a child’s mental age.   Lewis Terman created a standardised version.  This was scored in a child’s overall level of intelligence.  One criticism was that it was invalid as he underestimated the true knowledge, skills and aptitudes of children.

Another theory of intelligence was created by Charles Spearman.  He created the ‘g’ factor.  He believed that there was one central intelligence, which influenced on cognitive abilities.  Agreeing with Spearman was Robert Sterberg.  His theory in 1985 was that he thought that there was a correlation between intelligences.  Intelligence includes qualities such as; helps us adapt to our environment.  These include cognitive abilities.  For example: to learn from experience, to reason, to remember essential information and to cope with challenges of daily living.  Howard Gardner also agreed with Spearman.  Gardner’s theory was that he believed in nine separate intelligences.  He thought that strength in one would show weakness in another.  He also thought that intelligences are linked to general mental ability e.g. Verbal, mathematical and musical.  One person who disagreed with Spearman was Lewis Leon Thurso.  His theory in 1921 was that there was seven independent intelligences.

Implications of learning from all these theories have been that we know think of the child of a ‘whole person’.  Also we now know that intelligence can exist beyond cognitive connections.  All this will benefit teachers in that the can teach at stage the in appropriate for a child’s mental age.

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