Friday, June 11, 2010

Character and Intelligence

I mentioned yesterday that we were testing.  Actually, we're done.  The tests are sealed up in an envelope, ready to be sent in for scoring.  And I'm really proud of the boys.

Been thinking about that.  Yes I am really proud of the boys,  but not (at least primarily) because they're reading above grade-level, or they can tell you about the War of 1812, or that oxygen is an element rather than a compound.  Coincidentally, Sheila Gregoire had some interesting thoughts on the emphasis - the wrong emphasis - our culture puts on intelligence over at her blog.  You should read it.  Really.  It's not long.  Click HERE.  I'll wait.

Interesting, yah?  I think this paragraph really nailed it.
"We live in an era which prizes right thoughts over right actions. If people FEEL the right way about an issue, they are praised in public, even if they don't do anything about it. So thinking the government should increase welfare payments, for instance, is considered more generous than actually helping at a soup kitchen, if you happen to also advocate reduced welfare payments."
Just knowing things isn't that big of a deal, is it?  Or worse,  just thinking or feeling things.   (I, for one, am nauseatingly sick of hearing people say, "Well I feel that ___________", to justify a completely unsupported opinion.  But that's a rant for another day.)  Because, frankly, there are a lot of really intelligent people I wouldn't care to see around my dining room table.

Maybe, just maybe being smart isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Which, as a homeschooler and a parent, is both a relief and a challenge.

The relief.

Guess what?  We don't have to know everything!

We seem to forget this when we fret about whether we're doing it right.  Worrying if there will be "holes" in their learning.

There will.  And there would be in private school, or in public school.

So do your best to cover the basics.
Teach your kids how to learn.
How to reason.
Try to foster a love for learning.
And get on with it.
Or over it.

I had this brought home to me yesterday, during Wyatt's test.  His included two sections the younger boys' tests didn't - science and social studies.  There were a lot of questions on things we haven't covered.  I'm sure he missed a few.  Fine.  But he actually figured out many things we haven't even touched on.  It was fun to watch!  And I think he even had fun taking the test, though he probably wouldn't admit it.

What encouraged me isn't that he probably got a bunch of answers right, but that I could see the wheels turning in his brain.  I could see him using knowledge, skills, and reasoning to think something new.

But still, that's all just knowledge.

The challenge.

If I invest years of my life in parenting and homeschooling the boys so they can get better test scores, and maybe get into better universities, I am wasting my time.  I am wasting their lives.

Ultimately I'm not educating them, I'm discipling them.  Their intelligence matters far less than their character.

Are they honest?
Are they compassionate?
Hard working?

We're working on it.


melanie said...

Thanks, Julie! ♥

Abi's Blog said...


Q said...

Amen, and amen. Who cares how brilliant a child is if he's so rude and obnoxious that no one wants to be around him?

leah said...

I love, love, love this post. I particularly liked the line in the article stating: "It is very dangerous to praise innate gifts rather than efforts and achievements."

My family has a mailing list, and we were discussing the issue of "self esteem." The dangers of schools, parents, and some sports teams giving false awards and ridiculous amounts of praise, in the hopes of raising "self esteem." Kids can turn into reward junkies and become incredibly self-focused.

With all of the Baby Einstein and "Your Baby Can Read" items available, it is obvious that our society values innate intellect. I can't make my kids any smarter, but I can make them more prudent, compassionate, and persistent. I'll take virtue over intellect any day.

Ruby said...

Great post. Loved the thoughts and challenges and the encouragement. Thanks. Also love that great pic of your boys!

Grasshopper green looks good on the blog too!

Rachael Starke said...

That's a very good word. Thanks. :)

Anonymous said...

Great post!!! And the picture of the boys is the BEST! We are not here just to pass tests - but to live disciplined lives, pleasing to our SAVIOR! Keep up the good work and we appreciate you and your family so much. Have a great evening. lv PB^j

Choate Family said...

Smart, funny, and cute kids! I have a feeling you don't share all of the accomplishments on the "inside stuff" and that they are excelling in that area as well. Good job, Mama!

Kristen@nosmallthing said...

I agree. But I don't know how to do it. I don't know how to emphasize things that seem so unimportant to others.