I had another great article pushed to me last week from The Marshall Memo – “Testing for Better and Worse” by Robert Sternberg in Phi Delta Kappan. “Our testing culture may be making us smarter,” says Robert Sternberg (Cornell University) in this Kappan article, “but at the expense of the wisdom and creativity we’ll need to flourish in our world.” Intelligence – Creativity – Wisdom – Here is Figure 1 from Sternberg’s article to serve as his take on these “three human dimensions”:
Intelligence is the cognitive ability as measured by IQ and other tests serving as a gateway to higher education and economic success. See the above descriptors.
Creativity defined by Sternberg as thinking that produces a novel, surprising, and useful idea or product. See the above descriptors.
According to Sternberg, “Knowledge can help, but also interfere with, the creative process.”
Wisdom, according to Sternberg, involves using positive ethical values to seek a common good, balancing one’s own interests with those of others and thinking about large versus small interests. See the above descriptors.
Is creativity more important intelligence? Sternberg contends that “We’d still be in the Stone Age were it not for human creativity. Children use creativity to figure out how to persuade their parents to buy toys, and their parents use creativity to figure out how to maintain parental control in the face of their children’s demands for new toys.” Sound familiar – with your students in the classroom or your kids at home? OR, is wisdom more important than intelligence and creativity. “Many political leaders around the world, including in the United States, attended prestigious colleges and universities that admit only very intelligent students,” argues Sternberg. “But how many of them would you classify as wise?… The problem is that smart people can be foolish.” We desperately need wisdom as we navigate this growingly-complex world of ours!
But ultimately, is wisdom enough? Sternberg conclusion is that “solving the problems in our homes, communities, nation, and world… requires a balance of creativity, intelligence, and wisdom: creativity to generate new ideas, intelligence to vet the quality of the ideas, and wisdom to ensure that the ideas serve a common good. It’s not enough for schools to teach and test in ways that only develop and reward general intelligence. Teachers can teach and assess students for creativity and wisdom as well as for general intelligence and knowledge base…If we don’t start putting these ideas into practice, we and our world will suffer for it, perhaps irretrievably. Our world would be a safe and wonderful place for most of us to live in if only our creativity and wisdom had improved in the last century the same way our intelligence did.” Thank goodness that our BCS vision, values, and beliefs align with these notions!
Want more on this? Check out Sternberg’s TEDx Talk on “Why Standardized Testing Fails…