STUDENTS AND THE SUBJECT OF INTELLIGENCE
The process of imparting knowledge through classroom teaching is not an easy task. Teachers can tell that students are with varying degrees of perception. They can also confirm that while some students comprehend quite quickly and with ease, others need ample time to grasp what they are taught. Some are even more difficult to deal with as they hardly seem to understand what is being taught--no matter how simple it appears. Many a time, teachers are almost fed up and nearly giving up on a student, concluding that he or she may need a miraculous turn-around
to begin to grasp the arts of reading and writing.
Though intelligence is classified as a hereditary trait, we have had instances where extremely intelligent parents have children who are unimaginably slow in understanding. The reverse is also sometimes the case. What explanations could be given to this non-transfer of intelligence from parents to offspring? Why is there a varying degree of understanding among students who were all born with no in-built mental content?
According to the works of some psychologists and philosophers, man is born mentally blank. According to the theory of Tabula rasa, man is born without any mental content. It emphasises that knowledge is gathered through experience and perception. Ibn Sina, a philosopher, stressed that 'human intellect at birth is like a blank slate and that knowledge is attained through familiarity with objects.' Others submitted that while the brain is 'programmed' to pick up spoken languages, it is not programmed to learn to read and write spontaneously; it must be acquired. Scientists too recognise that the brain is organised to process sensory inputs and that these programmed mechanisms then act to learn and refine the individuals' ability.
From the foregoing arguments and my encounters with students, I have come to conclude that every child in the nursery was born mentally equal, but not as to the rate of perception and acuity. It may not be incorrect to assert that acuity and the varying rates of perception are some of the fundamental factors that contribute to students' varied academic performances.
In schools, there is a category of students who could be best described as fast learners. Some others need greater attention and time to comprehend subjects taught while the third class of students are difficult to teach. Rarely though, the difficult-to-teach students undergo a spontaneous turn-around to become fast learners overnight.
In schools generally, the average and slow learners are in the majority. Slow-learning in a student could be detected at an early age. Such students need special treatments and attention. They should be handled tenderly rather than being punished for not being eggheads. Admittedly, teaching slow learner could be a herculean task, patience should be the watchword in handling such students. They should not be coerced to learn or even denied of the privileges rightly due to them. In addition too, they should be allowed to play as all work without play could make them even duller. A reward system could be devised to encourage them whenever there is a perceived improvement in their learning. Notwithstanding our society that glorifies certificates at the expense of competence, technical education is also a viable option. Learning is a gradual process and the list of suggestions is inexhaustible.