Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Knowledge versus Intelligence


       Math is something people use everyday, although it can be difficult at times to use effectively. Mathematics education has been in need of a major overhaul for some time now. Too often, mathematics educators have fallen into a habit of teaching only one way to do things. In some cases, educators are unaware of multiple ways of teaching mathematics.

     There is too much emphasis on memorization, and not emphasis on logic. In classrooms many days are often spent memorizing one task or method of calculation, or one formula. or in some cases many formulas.This task can make math quite overwhelming. The goal here should be to ensure that students understand the concept, rather than just to be sure that they can memorize a bunch of formulas. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

      Logic is the foundation by which mathematics is built. All of the theorems, formulas, and rules that we use today are the result of the mathematicians starting with the very basics of numbers and building upon them by using logic. If we were to learn how to logically arrive at new theorems and formulas in mathematics, we would possess a greater understanding of mathematics as a whole. This means that educators should encourage students with an interest in finding new ways to approach a problem. After all, we would not have any of the great discoveries of math processes today, if we did not first look for an alternate way of using formulas and numbers. However, students are graded on their ability to memorize and regurgitate facts and formulas, and not on their ability to think and understand.

           Rote memorization is simply a method that will increase knowledge. It is more important to increase a person’s intelligence. Often people confuse knowledge and intelligence as the same thing, however, they are two very different things. Merriam Webster defines knowledge as the sum of what is known: the body of truth, information. They also provide the definition of intelligence as the ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situations: reason; also: the skilled use of reason, the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one's environment or to think abstractly.

      First, we will examine the definition of knowledge. The definition of knowledge shows us that knowledge is simply a quantitative measure of what we have memorized or experienced. From the definition of intelligence, we can conclude that intelligence is a qualitative measure of our ability to understand and to gain knowledge.

        Ole Roemer, the first person to calculate the speed of light, accomplished this through use of his intelligence not his knowledge. His knowledge did play a hand in his ability to make the calculations. However, without his ability to reason or to think abstractly he would not have made this exciting and profound discovery. As you can see knowledge and intelligence are both extremely important, but knowledge can be obtained by anyone.

        Just because a person doesn't know the definition of a word doesn't mean they're not intelligent, it just simply means that particular word is something they have not been exposed to. However, an intelligent person knows they can simply open a dictionary and find the definition of the word they are unfamiliar with. Also, an intelligent person will not only understand that definition but deduce the proper way to use the word.


  1. Mathematics was a problem to me at high school but when I studied physics and chemistry at the university I loved it. Thanks.

    1. Sorry for the late response, internet has been up and down since the wave of tornadoes in my area.
      I am glad to hear that you found a love for math through its application in your field. Often that's all a person needs is a solid application of mathematics in something they enjoy to spark not only their understanding of it, but also their enjoyment.