education | September 24, 2013

IQ Tests, Labels & Success: Speaker Scott Barry Kaufman In The Atlantic

"My fate," education speaker Scott Barry Kaufman writes in his book, Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined, "[was] sealed by a single test." When Kaufman was a young child, the results of an intelligence test determined that he was "seriously learning disabled." What the school didn't tell him, Jessica Lahey writes in The Atlantic, was that the "measure of a child's intelligence is far more complicated than a quotient that can be represented in a single number." In her article, Lahey chronicles Kaufman's journey through the school system after being told he wasn't a "gifted" student. This shows us the effect that our society's obsession with measuring intelligence and labeling can have on human potential.

After being given his own label, Kaufman was placed into special education classes. Sometimes labels can be helpful; they can classify learning disabilities and give parents and teachers a guide to help a student succeed. But often, the label can be detrimental and very difficult to overcome later in life. In Kaufman's case, he fought his classification throughout his schooling. Despite seeming out of place in his special education classes, Kaufman's school stuck to the label he was given as a child. "I [yearned] for more of a challenge," he wrote of his experience, "So much more." So he kept pushing.

Although he was told that post-secondary schooling was most likely not an option for him, Kaufman completed his master’s degree at Cambridge and PhD at Yale, and is now a working writer and psychologist. Unfortunately, not all students can break free of their labels. Inspired by his personal experience, Kaufman has dedicated a great deal of his work to transforming intelligence testing into intelligent testing. Instead of using testing to determine a child's intelligence, he advocates for using these tests to design custom-tailored learning solutions. That way, more teachers can find a way to tap a child's potential—similar to how one of Kaufman's own teachers saw potential in him. Kaufman encourages us—and specifically educators, school psychologists, parents, and caregivers—to move towards a culture of inspiration, where we only compare people to their past and future selves. And, where a test score isn't seen as the deciding factor for your future success.

In his keynotes, Scott Barry Kaufman provides new insight on harnessing and fostering creativity in the classroom and the workplace. He shows audiences how to cultivate potential and to inspire and motivate both students and employees to better achieve success. To hire Scott Barry Kaufman as a speaker for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau.

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