Successful Intelligence

Recently I was pleased to read about a book, College Admissions for the 21st Century, by psychologist Robert J. Sternberg.  Sternberg has studied human intelligence for several decades and has authored books and articles on the relationship between intelligence and creativity.  He coined the term “successful intelligence” to convey the idea that achievement comes not necessarily from scores, especially standardized test scores, but from what he calls the “WICS” model  leadership—wisdom, intelligence and creativity synthesized.  Sternberg says these are qualities for citizens of the future and “for anyone who wishes to achieve meaningful success in his or her life.”

Until a few years ago, Sternberg was the Dean of Arts and Sciences at Tufts University.  Beginning with the 2006 admission season, Sternberg and his colleagues administered an alternative admission test they called the Kaleidoscope System designed to assess creative, analytical, practical and wisdom-based skills, giving applicants an opportunity to showcase their strengths in the admission process.

It is the real-life measure that Sternberg is trying to get at, and in many ways, independent schools can lead the way in helping students identify and develop this WICS model of leadership.  Sternberg states, “…And this model is about what is unique about children, about how they capitalize on their strengths and how they compensate for weaknesses. To me independent schools are the places where educators have the freedom and the flexibility to do the things that will matter.”

To this end, I am excited to announce that GFA will be hosting a TEDx conference at the end of May that we have entitled, “Aesthetic Moments: Reflections on How to Discover Who We Really Are.”  We will host speakers from our GFA community, talking about an experience when they used their talents to the fullest and how it helped them discover who they really are and how they want to make an impact on the world.

Students, alumni, families and friends can be involved in this conference in many ways.  The conference will be videotaped and afterward posted on the TEDx Website for all to enjoy.  It is my hope that we will contribute in some way to the understanding that wisdom, intelligence, and creativity synthesized are powerful building blocks toward meaningful success.

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