The Ancient Greeks believed the pursuit of intelligence (nous) to be the highest of human endeavors. To seek intelligence was the pursuit of excellence. Subsequently, Descartes saw intelligence as the essence of being; “I think, therefore I am”, and Francis Bacon was to develop his ‘method of intelligence’ upon Aristotle’s scientific approach to systematic reasoning.
While still appreciating the intellectual endeavor, schooling, however, has tended to systematically present information to be memorised in an organised fashion to the neglect of the pursuit of intellectual excellence.
Intelligence is built upon the ability to think. But, as a cognitive process, it is more than the neurological activity of the brain to receive and respond to information perceived through the body-mind sensory system. It is in essence the ability to carry out rational thought. Rational thought can be observed or gauged by the speed of deliberation, the extent of deliberation, and the outcome of deliberation. While dependent upon cognitive ability, what is often not appreciated is that intelligence is essentially a learned human attribute.
Developing intelligence becomes an exercise in simultaneously developing both the neurological sensory system for cognitive ability and the reasoning abilities of the brain. Knowing how the neurological process of learning works is essential in teaching in order to encourage efficient learning.
In realizing that a classroom is a learning environment and that the teacher is the ‘learning manager’, teachers can help students enjoy thinking. A curriculum can be manipulated to create significant learning opportunities for students as they are challenged to think in various ways and to develop their reasoning abilities.
Parents as well as teachers and carers, can help a child or teenager developed their intelligence by teaching them to reason and engage in analysis, critical thinking and the use of imagination.