Scientific American Blogger Gary Stix recently ran a series of blogs exploring the thoughts of whether humans as a race are getting smarter. He discussed the thoughts of USB-like connections to the brain so humans could upload and download directly. He also discussed the effects of “Cognitive-Enhancing Drugs” such as Ritalin. This struck my interest. As a teacher, we see many students on Ritalin or other such meds, but I’m not sure “Cognitive-Enhancing” is the right adjective. All the same, the question remains: Are students getting smarter? Genetics? Natural Selection? Drugs? High Expectations?
Being a teacher at Middle School and College, I have a wide-range of ages of my students. Many of my 20-30 year olds are shocked to find out 12 year olds are writing research essays. In many ways, writing is just easier than it used to be. Does that make the 12 year olds smarter? No, they just know how to use tools like laptops, internet searches, and spellcheck to produce papers that use to take weeks to produce with a typewriter.
Going back to the Scientific American article, it ends with a somewhat discouraging quote. “The gains in intelligence are dominantly in the lower half of the distribution (population). The smarter folks do not appear to be getting smarter.”
So much for AYP…