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怎样提高我们的智商

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怎样提高我们的智商

Poor people have I.Q.’s significantly lower than those of rich people, and the awkward conventional wisdom has been that this is in large part a function of genetics.

After all, a series of studies seemed to indicate that I.Q. is largely inherited. Identical twins raised apart, for example, have I.Q.’s that are remarkably similar. They are even closer on average than those of fraternal twins who grow up together.

If intelligence were deeply encoded in our genes, that would lead to the depressing conclusion that neither schooling nor antipoverty programs can accomplish much. Yet while this view of I.Q. as overwhelmingly inherited has been widely held, the evidence is growing that it is, at a practical level, profoundly wrong. Richard Nisbett, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, has just demolished this view in a superb new book, “Intelligence and How to Get It,” which also offers terrific advice for addressing poverty and inequality in America.

Professor Nisbett provides suggestions for transforming your own urchins into geniuses — praise effort more than achievement, teach delayed gratification, limit reprimands and use praise to stimulate curiosity — but focuses on how to raise America’s collective I.Q. That’s important, because while I.Q. doesn’t measure pure intellect — we’re not certain exactly what it does measure — differences do matter, and a higher I.Q. correlates to greater success in life.

Intelligence does seem to be highly inherited in middle-class households, and that’s the reason for the findings of the twins studies: very few impoverished kids were included in those studies. But Eric Turkheimer of the University of Virginia has conducted further research demonstrating that in poor and chaotic households, I.Q. is minimally the result of genetics — because everybody is held back.

“Bad environments suppress children’s I.Q.’s,” Professor Turkheimer said.

One gauge of that is that when poor children are adopted into upper-middle-class households, their I.Q.’s rise by 12 to 18 points, depending on the study. For example, a French study showed that children from poor households adopted into upper-middle-class homes averaged an I.Q. of 107 by one test and 111 by another. Their siblings who were not adopted averaged 95 on both tests.

Another indication of malleability is that I.Q. has risen sharply over time. Indeed, the average I.Q. of a person in 1917 would amount to only 73 on today’s I.Q. test. Half the population of 1917 would be considered mentally retarded by today’s measurements, Professor Nisbett says.

Good schooling correlates particularly closely to higher I.Q.’s. One indication of the importance of school is that children’s I.Q.’s drop or stagnate over the summer months when they are on vacation (particularly for kids whose parents don’t inflict books or summer programs on them).

Professor Nisbett strongly advocates intensive early childhood education because of its proven ability to raise I.Q. and improve long-term outcomes. The Milwaukee Project, for example, took African-American children considered at risk for mental retardation and assigned them randomly either to a control group that received no help or to a group that enjoyed intensive day care and education from 6 months of age until they left to enter first grade.

By age 5, the children in the program averaged an I.Q. of 110, compared with 83 for children in the control group. Even years later in adolescence, those children were still 10 points ahead in I.Q.

Professor Nisbett suggests putting less money into Head Start, which has a mixed record, and more into these intensive childhood programs. He also notes that schools in the Knowledge Is Power Program (better known as KIPP) have tested exceptionally well and favors experiments to see if they can be scaled up.

Another proven intervention is to tell junior-high-school students that I.Q. is expandable, and that their intelligence is something they can help shape. Students exposed to that idea work harder and get better grades. That’s particularly true of girls and math, apparently because some girls assume that they are genetically disadvantaged at numbers; deprived of an excuse for failure, they excel.

“Some of the things that work are very cheap,” Professor Nisbett noted. “Convincing junior-high kids that intelligence is under their control — you could argue that that should be in the junior-high curriculum right now.”

The implication of this new research on intelligence is that the economic-stimulus package should also be an intellectual-stimulus program. By my calculation, if we were to push early childhood education and bolster schools in poor neighborhoods, we just might be able to raise the United States collective I.Q. by as much as one billion points.

That should be a no-brainer.



穷人的智商明显低于富人,不合时宜的传统智慧告诉我们这很大程度上是遗传在起作用。

毕竟,一系列研究表明智商在很大程度上是遗传的。例如,同卵双胞胎分开长大后,智商仍旧非常相似,从平均情况看,甚至比一起长大的异卵双胞胎更加接近。

假如智力深深根植于人们的基因中,就会由此推断出令人沮丧的结果:学校教育和扶贫计划都不可能取得卓越成效。然而,当智商大部分来自遗传这个观点被广泛采纳时,在实践层面上,证明这个观点是根本错误的证据在不断增加。密西根州立大学心理学教授理查德.尼斯贝特在他的最新佳作《智力以及如何得到它》里,刚刚驳斥了这个观点,书中还就如何改善美国的贫困和不平等状况提出了很好的意见。

尼斯贝特教授对如何把你家里的小顽童变成天才提出了建议——要多表扬孩子付出的努力,少表扬已经取得的成功、要教会孩子享乐在后、要少一些责备,用表扬来激发孩子的好奇心等。但是尼斯贝特教授的焦点在于提高美国人的集体智商。智商很重要,因为它并不是单纯对智力的衡量,虽然我们也不能确切肯定智商究竟衡量什么——差异很重要,高智商和成功的人生有紧密关联。

确实,在中产阶级家庭里,智力看起来在很大程度上是遗传的,这就是双胞胎研究能得到这个发现的理由——因为很少有穷人家庭的孩子参与这些研究。但是弗吉尼亚大学的埃里克.托克海姆进行了进一步的研究,表明在贫困和不幸家庭里,智商和遗传的相关度很低,因为每一个人都被拖累了。

“不良环境压抑了儿童的智商。”托克海姆教授说。

托克海姆研究中的一项测量表明,当贫困儿童被中上层家庭收养后,智商提高了12至18点。例如有一项法国的研究显示,两次测试被中上层家庭收养的贫困儿童的平均智商,结果分别为107和111,而他们没有被收养的兄弟在两次测试中均为95。

其它可以表明智商可塑性的是随着时间的推移智商会急速上升。确实,用今天的方法来测试,1917年的人平均智商仅为73。尼斯贝特教授说,根据今天的标准,1917年有一半人口可以被认为是精神迟滞症患者。

良好的学校教育与高智商密切相关。有一点可以表明学校教育重要性,即儿童在暑假期间的智商会下降或停滞。(特别是在家长不要求孩子读书或没有安排暑期学习计划的情况下。)

尼斯贝特教授大力支持强化的儿童早期教育,因为这已经证明对提高智商有利,并且有长远效果。例如密尔沃基项目研究有患精神迟滞风险的非洲裔美国儿童,把他们随机分组,一组控制外部帮助,另外一组有加强的日间护理和教育,从6个月年龄开始直到读一年级为止。

到了5岁时,项目里有护理和教育组的儿童平均智商为110,而控制组儿童的智商仅为83。甚至过了很多年到了孩子的青春期,有早期教育孩子的智商还领先10点。

尼斯贝特教授建议不要在政府的早期智力开发项目(Head Start)多花钱,因为口碑良莠不齐,可以把钱花在强化的儿童项目上。他还指出,参加“知识就是力量”项目的学校特别优秀,这些学校愿意参加实验以期排名上升。

另一项有用的举措是告诉初中学生智商是可以提升的,他们可以塑造自己的才智。懂得这个道理的学生会更加努力取得好成绩。这在女孩和数学方面特别突出,因为有些女孩认为自己在数字方面没有遗传优势,没有失败的借口所以能胜出。

“有些东西有效而且廉价,”尼斯贝特教授指出。“让初中生相信他们可以控制自己的智力,可以争取现在就把这一条放到初中的课程中去。”

关于智力的新研究表明经济一揽子刺激计划也应该是智力促进计划。我估计,假如我们力推儿童教育,支持贫困社区学校,就可以把美国的集体智商提高到多至十亿点。

这是多么容易的一件事。
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