This is one of those topics that is often debated, talked about and researched. It hasn’t emerged recently but is under observation since decades. But everyone has a different opinion on what is intelligence and how we must determine that a particular person is smarter than his/her fellow mates. People are most often misinterpret it as well if they encounter a few average individuals who are active and skillful enough to market themselves, despite of them having a common set of knowledge, learning abilities and IQ. So, we must first know how we define the term ‘Smart’ and ‘Intelligent’ before coming into some conclusion.
When I recently talked to a four year old kid, I learned that he was well versed in three different languages, quite fluently that he could initiate as well as continue the conversation. I wondered, was I in an extreme illusion that kids at present are smarter than the old generation? Could I learn as well if I, being a kid, would be given the same facilities about three decades back, just as this kid’s accessing? My mind baffled with deep curiosity and so I collected much information that was needed to understand the current situation and kept this very data for further comparison later.
What is intelligence and smartness?
First of all, these both are different terms having different meanings behind. A common person will tell you to believe the degree of education you have right now to judge whether you could be termed as intelligent. But there are those who dropped out of educational institutions but are still called intelligent (Why?). This is because, if certain observations are to be believed these people who never attained a regular educational degree, had great skills and they utilized those skills in something productive. Think about Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. They were good at computer programming and so their revolutionary ideas changed the way how we view the world. We can say that intelligence is inherited.
A person is born with certain abilities that he/she could utilize later in life and become smarter than everybody else! Smartness is more inclined towards grasping the existing information, which isn’t inherited but learned with experience.
Moving back to the topic, I wanted to compare the whole of older generation with the existing one to determine if Old is Gold OR I predicted it correctly about the present kids.
Everyone knows that today’s world is surrounded by technical devices, gadgets and what not! My grandfather didn’t play any video games when he was younger but I did. He wouldn’t be able to play it as expected if he is given the screen and certain controlling keyboard/joysticks and keys. On the contrary, if I am given the task of filling a bucket of drinking water from a well which is situated a few kilometers away from my locality and that too without any vehicle, I simply cannot do. We use GPS today to know the directions that our ancestors didn’t have.
The technology we use today has a set of phases that it underwent for many decades and even centuries. We could have never discovered (or might be quite later) the gravitational force if Newton wouldn’t observe an apple falling on the ground. Likewise, the invention of electricity, computer, electronics, etc. were once discovered by those who had hardly any kind of facility that we have today. Imagine if these people weren’t born that time but at present, what contribution they could have made! They didn’t have access to the internet and sites like YouTube, where we get ALL kinds of information. They gained some of the basic knowledge through education, reading books from a library, life’s experiences, along with their own intelligence and common sense.
Today’s generation lack the knowledge of How Stuff Works, rather is involved into getting things done fast. They know how to handle a handheld device but never bother in knowing how that device can actually transmit the data from source to destination.
Smartness based on IQ levels
It is quite evident that the IQ level has been increased to significantly higher, decade after decade, no matter what kind of community, region, locality or country you live in. Although, the access to education, geographical location, country’s condition, etc. do matter a lot and so the increment in IQ could be either faster or slower, but these do not decrease.
Studies have proved that people who have an average IQ are smarter than those who were born a hundred years ago, and that most people who were considered ‘average’ in 1900s would be termed as mentally incapable at present if they accidently are born into this world. An average mind would be termed as genius if they time travel and reach the previous era. Now you got an idea what I actually want to imply!
Back in the 1900s, first of all, the education was limited to the elite group where children were taught memorizing the existing information. It was not about thinking rationally and new ideas weren’t supported much. There is one more concept known as hypothesis, which was lacking. People were extremely incapable to make a supposition and solve a question.
For instance, if a person is asked today what’s common between a rabbit and a dog, he or she will answer like “They both are mammals/animals/four legged creatures.”. If this question was asked 100 years back, people would reply “We use dogs to hunt rabbits.”.
If we ask a person today as – “All bears are white where there is always snow; in Novaya Zemlya there is always snow; what color are the bears there?”, he or she will obviously reply that the color of bear is white in this particular case. If asked 100 years back, the individuals would reply as – “I don’t know, I’ve never been to this place.”.
Our ancestors had life experiences. They knew how to fix mechanical things (and many other stuffs). They didn’t call a mechanic immediately like we do today. They would collect knowledge through reading books, elders, their own experiences, and so on, no matter how less hypothetical there were. If they were given access to the internet in their early days they obviously would learn just as we did.
We can say that today’s children are able to think rationally and hypothetically because of the awareness, the level of knowledge they get from their schools, home, media, and elsewhere. They can Google about any random topic and can seek much information.
The kids are also more enthusiastic in learning, their minds are yet to collect more information. They have better grasping skills than adults have. Today is the time when these young minds have lots of access from all kinds of sources they observe. This is the reason why I still remember certain religious bhajans I was taught when I was 3 year old, and find harder to store recent information like what I cooked the previous day!