Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Intelligence, Knowledge, Wisdom

What are my smarts? As a teacher I encouraged my students to plot themselves on this triangle in order to visualize their intellectual strengths and weaknesses. I've plotted myself on this triangle. I offer these definitions:

Intelligence - Problem solving ability. Particularly for new problems -intelligent people are difficult to overwhelm.
Knowleldge - Information. Memorization of facts and the ability to call upon them at appropriate times and express them in articulate ways.
Wisdom - Experience. An understanding gained through exposure and routine. I forget that we are always practicing some skill.

My own rating.
I have plotted myself relatively far away from wisdom and a little closer to knowledge than intelligence.
I know some exceptional problem solvers (my father and youngest brother) and I'm within their shadow. But I certainly have been known to shine with my own solutions. I like to reset my mind and come at the problem in a simpler frame of mind.
I consider myself knowledgeable because other people tell me that I am. It probably dates back to memorizing answers for Trivial Pursuit the Millennium Edition (I found them so interesting, I kept researching them: olestra, the Iran-Contra scandal, geothermal energy, there's so much to know!). I realized that I only consider 'knowing' something if I can explain it to someone else. As a teacher I developed an above average grasp of Western history and philosophy which I am more than eager to share. This enthusiasm often translates as intimidation.
I have led students through Europe, been performing onstage since high school, and I consider myself an insightful judge of character. Yet, I don't see myself as very 'street smart'. I feel that disappointment that my textbook knowledge won't fix an engine.

I feel comfortable where I am. Part of me feels that wisdom is capitulation. I criticize so many things in this world that I don't want to catch myself practicing them. Another explanation for my positioning is that having a lot of historical knowledge makes my life experience seem paltry.

It's quite obvious to me that I have been influenced by Scott McCloud's wonderful perspective on art. In Understanding Comics, he pointed out that anything illustrated can be placed within a triangle that offers reality, iconic, and abstract as the corners.


Lisa said...

I spent a good 15 minutes deciding where I am on the triangle. I'm higher and more to the right.

Simon said...

By your logical breakdown I find myself almost just like Lisa, higher and way further to the right. Intel- My pride myself on finding solutions to difficult problems, in fact many of my past jobs have required this skill. Wisdom- I like to think of myself as street smart but it actually is is avoiding the need to be street smart. Never getting in a position where the choices are, Run or Play dead? I see wisdom as the ability to impart guidance and ideas to others without feeling like a fraud. Sadly, I love imparting guidance but I often feel like a fraud. As for Knowledge, maybe I'm just comparing it to you Pete but my Knowledge is not broad at all. I have a lot of knowledge in very specific areas and falling short in so many others.
Great activity, shows me what I must work on!