Standing on Your Feet

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2015-07-28 – Did you ever notice that IQ tests and aptitude tests don’t measure much other than a little math and very little verbal skills? How do they know how smart we are from that?

The other day, one of my Facebook friends asked the world what their favorite grade in school was. I said 10th grade. And I said it was because of my speech class and my shop class, both of which I took that year.

In the speech class we learned by doing. We started learning how to construct and deliver a speech, then how to speak off the cuff on a topic we drew from a hat (we had 10 seconds to get our thoughts together). We learned how to debate. We learned how to conduct a meeting, based on Roberts Rules of Order. We learned how to give dramatic readings. We learned how to be a good audience. We did all these things standing on our feet—except for the audience part.

Shop was a sampler of six trade skills: wood working, metal working, “auto” mechanics (it should have been called lawnmower mechanics), electronics (we made a radio), print shop (moveable type, literally), and drafting (pencil on paper, not autoCAD). The class was offered as a prerequisite to taking year-long classes in the individual skills. I never did that. I was already stepping out of the college prep track to take this one year.

None of the skills I gained in these classes showed up on the SAT or ACT. Why?

I suppose it’s because the people who write IQ or aptitude tests don’t, for the most part, work with their hands. They think reading and math are important—which they are—but they don’t really look beyond.

Being an athlete is not just muscle. There’s a brain at work. Same is true for a dancer. Or a violinist. Or a plumber. Or a carpenter.

I was lucky. I was exposed to both worlds. And I made sure that my sons were as well. But our school system is not really set up to reward that. Just the math and vocabulary. Nothing you do standing on your feet.

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