Are Kids Smart? — Depends

Our local capital paper, News & Observer, featured an article on the front page today, “IQ tests show kids are smarter than parents”. Due to copyright restrictions, they could not include the article online. But the article reports on the continuing increase in IQ test scores since the advent of the test. The long article suggested possible reasons, but the bottom line was that our “…intellects develop to the degree that the times demand…” and the demanded intellects at present seem to be what the tests measure.

The article featured the work of New Zealand researcher, James Flynn, and what’s been called the Flynn Affect, this increase in IQ. Only scant mention of this was included in the article, but I have read other references to Flynn’s research pointing to a recent escalation of our general intelligence, and speculations that it has been a result of new technologies. Consider the tools that we use on a daily bases, digital watches and VCRs. These are machines that will perform numerous functions for us, but with a very limited number of buttons. We must reason our way into the operation of the device to make it do what we want. My children can reason through a cell phone or VCR in minutes. For me, I stopped wearing a watch years ago, and my VCR is a 12:00 flasher.

The article ends with Flynn’s conculsion that…

…modern American kids, while relatively skilled in abstract thinking, lack a lot of the basic three R’s and rote knowledge that their forebears possessed. At age 10, when IQ tests are generally given, stronger abstract-thinking skills give them an edge. but by the time today’s students exit hight school, their achievement levels in reading and math are much closer to their great-grandparents’.

Could this be (my words) because we continue to teach our children in the same way that their our grand parents were taught, teaching methods that are contrary to the unique learning skills that our children enter our classrooms with?

What do you think?


Greve, Frank. "IQ tets show kids are smarter than parents." News & Observer 4 February 2006: 1A.

Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.