Just what is Intelligence and how can Educational Toys help?

Intelligence. It can be an emotion-filled word for many. For some, it will bring positive feelings while for others it will bring negative ones. But one things is clear. We all want what we think is best for our children.

It is also clear that for most, that 'best' includes helping their children become more intelligent.

Is Your Child Intelligent?

Are there such things as educational toys that will make children smarter? What does this mean anyway? As we think of these questions it becomes clear that we must first figure out what people mean (or what you mean) when they blur out these terms everywhere.

Intelligence is probably one of the most misunderstood of common terms that we come across in our daily lives. The term 'intelligence' is often used to describe a person who is knowledgeable. In other words, a person who knows a lot of facts or can perform mental functions quickly.

However, a more accurate meaning of intelligence is a person who can reason and comprehend. In other words, a person who can think.

So how does a person learn to think? Through education, of course! Right? And hence, this site about educational toys. It all makes sense, doesn't it? But wait!

Whether it makes sense or not really depends on how you define education.

Coming from a teaching background (elementary teacher), I have seen too many people (including parents, teachers and myself in both roles) think of education as a way to 'dump' or 'pour' knowledge into a child's brain.

But this is not how it works. Sure, you can teach facts and figures this way, but that's teaching knowledge, not how to think.

So, what is education and what's the deal about educational toys?

In its root form, 'to educate' means to 'bring out' as well as to be instructed or taught skills and knowledge (but knowledge is not the whole deal here). To bring out what, you ask? Why, the abilities that lie within the child of course. You see, learning facts and figures doesn't necessarily make you a smarter person.

Sure, it's important to know certain facts, but the real difference between an intelligent person and who isn't (just pretends to be, come on, we all know someone like that) is the ability to think. This includes the ability to ask smart questions (based on your knowledge attained so far) since they are the seeds of knowledge and thought.

In other words, knowledge serves as a base for intelligence. Having certain knowledge empowers a child (or an adult) to think about a problem or a question.

Knowledge on its own is static. It does not change without the help of thinking. Thinking is what propels the mental development of a child.

Think about it for a second. Is the computer smart? I know that there are computers that are now called smart computers, but they do not have the inteligence to think creatively, ask new questions or to link information together outside of their programming.

An intelligent person has these abilities. They can take the base knowledge, then ask questions and come up with creative solutions or answers. This is done by linking other bits and pieces of knowledge together.

If you will take a moment to consider, everything starts from a question. An intelligent question will set off series of other questions or quest for knowledge that will serve as a drive for coming up with a solution. A creative solution!

A computer that is not programmed to link various bits of information together cannot think creatively to solve a question. They are limited to the scope of their programming. However, a person who can THINK can compare, evaluate and link an almost unlimited amount of knowledge together from the vast resources availble from his/her brain.

As a side note, a human brain that merely weighs a few pounds has enough capacity to store information that is equivalent to a skyscraper filled with super computers (a modest estimation).

Therefore, it is not a matter of learning facts and figures that is important, but on how to use that information. Looking up knowledge and figures is what books and computers are for (bad grammar, I know). Wouldn't you agree?

Einstein was once said to have been asked why he couldn't remember simple formulas and other basic facts. His answer was that this kind of information was readily available from other sources (e.g., books, etc...) and he chose to spend the majority of his brain-power in solving the yet unsolved.

So, being a smart person, you are now asking "How can educational toys help my children to think?"

While on the topic of intelligence and children, for further information on our brain and the mind, visit Internet of the Mind. It's a great resource site full of great information.

"education at play"

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