Child Intelligence

By Hu Wo (Cuckoo’s Song)

As We are all aware, chil­dren develop cognitively when they grow into adolescents. Cognitive development general­ly means changes in the way by which individuals acquire and use knowledge, in other words, intel­lectual ability. In fact, the cognitive development that the individual brings to adolescence has arisen and improved even during infancy and childhood, and a normal ado­lescent is capable of moving on to more advanced levels of thinking, such as those of adults.


Intelligence is composed of many separate mental abilities that operate more or less inde­pendently. Flynn defined the term intelligence as the ability to think abstractly and to learn readily from experience. But as Thurs­tone suggested, intelligence is a composite of seven distinct mental abilities: spatial ability, perceptual speed, numerical ability, verbal meaning, memory, word fluency, and reasoning. He also believed that the assessment of a person’s intelligence requires the measure­ment of all these seven abilities.


According to Cattell, intelli­gence comprises two major com­ponents: crystallized intelligence and fluid intelligence. Crystallized intelligence improves drawing on previously learned information to make decisions or solve problems. Classroom tests, vocabulary tests, and many other social situations involve crystallized intelligence. In contrast, fluid intelligence forms concepts and reasons and iden­tifies similarities as new mental structures rather than making use of existing ones. Crystallized intel­ligence is increasing across the lifespan, while fluid intelligence is peaking in early adulthood.


According to the Triarchic Theory of Intelligence by Stern­berg, there are three types of hu­man intelligence. The first type, componential intelligence, empha­sizes effectiveness in information processing. Those highly rated for this type like to think critically and analytically. Thus, they usu­ally excel on standardized tests of academic potential that make excellent students. The second type, experiential intelligence, em­phasizes insight and the ability to formulate new ideas. The persons with this high type zero in what information is crucial in a given situation and combining seemingly unrelated facts. Scientific geniuses and inventors tend to show this intelligence. The third type, con­textual intelligence, is a practical, adaptive sense. The ones who are high on this type quickly recognize what factors influence success on various tasks and are competent at adapting to and shaping their environment. Successful people in many fields do extremely well in that area of intelligence.


The American Association on Mental Deficiency defines mental retardation as significantly sub-av­erage general intellectual func­tioning existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behaviour and manifested during the develop­mental period. Mentally retarded adolescents are well below normal, with an average IQ score of 100, in intelligence. The five types of mental retardation are borderline retardation with an IQ range of 70 - 85, mild retardation in the low 50s-70s, moderate retardation in the mid-30s-low 50s, severe retar­dation with that of low 20s-mid-30s, and profound retardation with that of below 20. In the first type, the in­dividual may be able to function ad­equately in society. In the second type, the individual is educable and can be minimally self-supporting, although requiring special help at times of unusual stress. In the third type, the individual is train­able to perform skilled work in a sheltered workshop if provided with supervision and guidance. In the fourth type, only simple tasks can be carried out under supervision. In the fifth type, the individual requires constant care and supervision.


The causes of mental retar­dation contain genetic disease, chromosomal abnormality, brain damage, and severe environmen­tal deprivation. The solution to mental retardation for the major­ity of handicapped students who are educated within local school systems is a process called main­streaming which certainly helps those students socialize with non-handicapped peers.


On the contrary, giftedness is thought of as precocity. A young person is able to perform tasks at the level usually observed in older children. Gifted adolescents demonstrate their achievement and potential ability in any or com­bination of general intellectual ability, specific academic aptitude, creative or productive thinking, leadership ability, visual or per­forming arts, and psychomotor ability. Thus, these children could do with individualized educational programmes specially provided to realize their contribution to self and society. The failure to provide gifted adolescents with access to an appropriate educational en­vironment gives rise to a costly waste of their talent and promise.


In summary, the intellectual competencies that improve during adolescence call for memory span, memorization skills, acquisition of information, concept produc­tion across verbal, perceptual and experiential modes, mental representations of physical space, and problem-solving strategies. Young adolescents who have not yet arrived at formal-operation­al thought may not apply formal strategies to the whole range of problems they encounter. A height­ened egocentrism is thought to be reduced through peer interaction and participation in work settings, but remarkably, some degree of egocentrism remains a charac­teristic of adult thought. After all, cognitive development during adolescence does permit higher levels of integration, abstraction, and generalization in the use of these abilities.