Your brain is a muscle


Michelle Ray, AKA Galtsgirl, shared this interesting article on the key to math achievement. There’s some great stuff there, even if I’m not sure I agree with their “be more Japanese!” approach. Simply put, too many people have a mistaken belief that intelligence is genetic. Culturally, we’ve adopted “You are as smart as you’ll ever be” vs. “You can increase your intelligence through work.” Not only is that not in keeping with the “self-made man” ethic that built America, it’s a belief that I think is both inaccurate and harmful. It’s fatalistic, which is definitely not an American value.

Of course, there are exceptional people who have a special genius, but those exceptions don’t disprove the rule. This is one of the problems with labeling kids as “gifted” or “slow” at a young age. Whatever the intent, the result is to teach children they either are smart or they aren’t, and too many kids by the lie they’re told in the 2nd grade. If you’re told at seven that you aren’t a “math person” or that “English isn’t your strong suit,” chances are you’ll believe that lie for the rest of your life.

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Of course, if you adopt the view that you can improve your intelligence and ability, you now have the responsibility to do so. Not bright enough in writing or finances or plumbing? Then it’s up to you to fix that. With great power comes great responsibility, as someone stealing from the Bible said.

What about you? Have you ever bought into the idea that intelligence is genetic? What would change if you changed that belief for the idea that you have the power to increase your intelligence?

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