In my last post for this class I would like to discuss about the notion of smartness.
According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, smartness is the quality of being intelligent, or able to think quickly or intelligently in difficult situations. I completely agree with this definition, however I would add the ability to solve problems, even though I consider that it is mentioned here implicitly.
I also believe that the main objective of higher education is to help learners to be smart, not just to obtain enough knowledge to be an expert in some particular field. Unfortunately sometimes being knowledgeable is mistakenly (in my opinion) seen as being smart.
One of examples of this confusion is that some people believe that being good at intellectual games like “Jeopardy!” means being smart. This game has spawned versions in many countries in the world, but everywhere in order to answer the questions, contestant needs broad based knowledge and a good memory. So, answering the quesions itself doesn’t mean being smart, but it means being knowledgeable.
Here are some examples of questions (with correct answers) from “Jeopardy!“:
1. According to C.S. Lewis, it was bordered on the east by the Eastern Ocean and on the north by the River Shribble. (Narnia)
2. To marry Elizabeth, Prince Philip had to renounce claims to this southern European country’s crown. (Greece)
3. Hard times,” indeed! A giant quake struck New Madrid, Mo., on Feb. 7, 1812, the day this author struck England. (Charles Dickens)
As you can see, there is no way to answer these questions using logical thinking: you either know (or remember) the answer, or not. In other words, answering these questions needs some specific knowledge.
Unfortunately, sometimes students in different countries are forced to memorize a lot of information (historical dates, formulas, definitions, etc.) But it also important that students should be able to use this information in problem-solving. Now let me introduce another intellectual game, “What? Where? When?”, which is well known in Russia and other former Soviet Union countries. The questions of this game usually do not require specific knowledge, but only common knowledge; and should be answered mostly by logical thinking and intuition. This game is played by teams, so answering the questions is a result of the conversation between the team members who use their logical thinking and intuition.
Here are some examples of questions from “What? Where? When?” You can try to answer them using your logical thinking and intuition (I will not provide the correct answers, but if you are interested I can send you the answers in personal messages):
1. What does this map represent?
2. In the second half of the 19th century in Kentucky one could see the following situation: a man, walking on the street, eats an ice cream cone and then, in particular moment of time, puts it into his back pocket and gradually speeds up. Such situations forced the state government to set the law which made illegal to carry an ice cream cone in a back pocket. What was the reason to use an ice cream this weird way?
3. The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took part in an advertising campaign calling to visit her country. The leitmotif of this campaign was the webpage known to you – Error 404 (look at the picture below). What is this country?
4. In 2004 a floating barge capsized because too many people crowded on one side of it. This happened when the barge sailed near Hippie Hollow, which is the only public … … in Texas. Which two words did we hide from you in the previous sentence?
5. During several months after her second marriage, Martha lived with her second husband, the colonel, in this plantation of her first husband, a rich American planter Daniel, who passed away several years earlier:
This plantation had the same name which later was given to the place where Martha and her second husband planned to move, but they did not move there. What is the name of that place and this plantation?
6. When Lee Iacocca worked at the Ford Motor Company, he was sent on a business trip to the southern states. However his boss advised him to DO IT before this trip. Please answer exactly what to do.
Hope you can find the answers. I believe that schools, colleges, and universities should pay more attention to improving such skills of their students as logical thinking, intuition, insight.