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THOUGHTS ON IMPROVING AFRICAs AVERAGE IQ

 

For centuries, the African continent has suffered from slavery and colonization. For decades, the continent has been ravaged by totalitarianism, dictatorship and post-colonial exploitation, tribal and ethnic wars and cleansing, humiliating poverty, devastating diseases, bad governance, lawlessness and lack of basic infrastructure.

 

It comes as no surprise that the African continent and its people, the Africans, are perceived as the least relevant, the least competitive and the least respected people, of all the continents and virtually on all counts. This stereotypically unfair perception is unfortunate. But it’s what we Africans have to put up with every day at work, in the streets or even at home watching television. The lack of freedom and liberties in African dictatorships are perhaps the single most liability in the development of the human IQ in the African continent. When the human being is oppressed and deprived from the ability to express his thoughts and feelings, the human mind will gradually loss its ability to reason, to think and to understand. This will necessarily suppress and shrink the human intellect over the course of time.

 

What is IQ ? The acronym IQ is an abbreviation of the expression: “Intelligence Quotient”. In simple terms, the IQ is a relative measure of intelligence. Intelligence is defined as the capacity of learning, reasoning and understanding. It’s the faculty to adapt to current and new circumstances. It’s the aptitude to grasp the objective truths, the meanings, the understanding of co-relationships and inter-dependencies. It’s the capacity to analyze and interpret effects and causes, to seek facts and meanings of things and events. The human IQ measures the relative degree of a people’s ability to reason, to learn, to understand and to adapt to current and new circumstances, individually and collectively, conceptually and experientially.

In this article, I like to address the different ways we can help improve on the IQ of our people. The human intellect has to be cultivated and nurtured in order to expand and extend its capabilities. The human mind is truly a muscle. When trained and nurtured, it expands and extends. When not, it shrinks and loses its elasticity.

 

Formal and Conceptual Education

The first element in improving the human IQ is education. While there may be several forms of education, there are essentially three categories of education: Formal and conceptual education, experiential education and spiritual and SELF education. All these categories of education are equally important and are necessary to maintain a sound mind and a balanced intellect.

Formal and conceptual education is the form of education that is dispensed in a classroom setting. It’s essentially the learning of new concepts, theories and philosophies. This type of knowledge is essentially bibliographical. It is mostly comprised of well known and well documented concepts and materials found in books in the fields such as Mathematics, Science, Literature and other disciplines. The acquisition of this type of knowledge equips the individual with the capabilities to be competent in his area of expertise. This is the type of knowledge that a Medical Doctor employs to diagnose and treat an ailment. It’s what the skilled Lawyer uses to defend a case in court. It’s what the teacher uses to teach his or her students in the classroom. Acquiring this type of knowledge, makes you a learned person and in many respects gives you the ability to reason, think and understand and will considerably improve on the human IQ. This type of knowledge does not necessarily teach the person any moral and ethical behavior. It does not necessarily inform good ethics, nor does it bind the individual to any post-conventional moral guideline. The recipient of this type of knowledge may very well be intolerant, derisive, arrogant, uncompassionate, disrespectful and condescending. It’s up to the individual to decide how to use his knowledge. This is the prime type of knowledge held by graduates of universities and other classical and orthodox learning institutions around the world.

 

Experiential Education

Experiential education is the type of education acquired by doing, seeing or hearing. Unlike conceptual learning, experiential learning does not –necessarily-- occur in a classroom setting. It occurs in the streets or at a job site, as a result of daily experience and interaction with people. This type of learning, by exposure to an environment or to a culture is the essence of experiential knowledge. It’s learning by experiencing, learning by living, learning by seeing, learning by exposure. The exposure factor is a very effective in impacting the human IQ. It’s an undeniable fact that many Africans who have travelled the world have a broader view and perhaps a more expanded intellect than those who have not. This expansion and extension came as a result of these people being exposed to new cultures, new ways of living, new environment, new experience. Experiential knowledge is acquired just by being exposed to an environment. It is perhaps the single most effective way to impact the human IQ, more so than conceptual learning. The Africans in America, Europe and other parts of the modern world of today, have in many respects improved on their ability to learn, to reason, to understand by many folds increment. Experiential learning is really what you acquire by just living in a society. It’s acquired by being exposed to the archetypes and mechanisms built into society to influence and coerce –positive-- societal conduct. Just by living in Europe or America, the African who had been used to bribery and corruption in his country of origin, begins to understand that society works best when people are treated with dignity and given equal opportunity. Living in a modern world, the African man begins to see the shortcomings and injustice of tribalism when he becomes a victim of racism. The same can be said of the African soccer player who transfers to a European soccer league. The player becomes not just a better athlete, but also one with a higher IQ –as it relates to the game-- and a better understanding of the sport he practices. The exposure to the modern world teaches you these expanded views, values and concepts that you would not have been able to imagine otherwise. The exposure factor has the tremendous and effective ability to broaden the human intellect, expand the human soul, increment and enhance its cognitive faculties --and hence its IQ-- by many folds. I have sometime thought to myself that I would have probably invented Facebook or Microsoft had I been born in America. –just kidding--. But I know you get the point.

 

Spiritual Education

The third category of education is Spiritual education. This form of education deals with the knowledge of self, the knowledge of the creator or God and the Universe. This knowledge is acquired in Churches, synagogues, Mosques and other religious or spiritual settings and by reading and studying spiritual literature. This type of teaching inform us of the need to love one another, the need to feel for our proverbial neighbor. The need to do unto others as you would want others do unto you. This form of education commits us to a certain post-conventional morality and ethical guidelines. It informs us of the importance of values such as compassion, love and respect, selflessness, sacrifice, tolerance and obedience. It’s the impulse of this knowledge that led Martin Luther Jr. to the “I have a dream” speech. The unbreakable faith that led the Christ –the Messiah-- to the cross, to save mankind had its root in this type of knowledge. It’s what leads the philanthropist to strive to improve the welfare of society. It’s the instinctive and intuitive desire that compels and drives the intellectual to research the solutions to the problems of society. It’s what commits the human heart to try to make life better for his fellow man on earth. This form of knowledge carries in it the most fundamental and elemental purpose of our existence.

I have argued that the secrets of the human creativity and ingenuity stem more from this knowledge than the formers. It’s only when you have reconciled yourself with the fundamental purpose of creation, that the human mind and intellect can tap into the Universal reservoir of knowledge. The type of knowledge that led Moses to --renounce the wealth proposed to him by the Pharaoh-- and instead opt --for the more perilous journey-- to free his people from captivity in ancient Egypt. That type of knowledge that led Christ to the cross. The type of knowledge that informs selflessness and the need to be a part of something bigger than yourself. It's this type of knowledge that can bring significant change to society and to the human condition on earth.

It’s a fact that the average IQ of a society is necessarily linked to the literacy level of the people. Knowing how to read and write gives us the tremendous ability to express and communicate our thoughts, ideas, feelings and knowledge with others in a bidirectional way. While writing, speaking or acting give you the ability to express yourself inward out, reading, listening and feeling give us the opportunity to learn the thoughts and ideas of others, and ingest new conceptual knowledge. Exposure to an environment teaches us a wealth of knowledge in the area of experiential learning. Spirituality is the glue that bonds all knowledge and brings meaning and purpose to the need to learn, to expand the human mind and broaden the human intellect. Reading, listening and feeling are the essential venues that allows the human mind and intellect to expand and grow.

We, Africans must encourage our people to read more. We should seek to institute an educational system that is more “Problem Solving” oriented than conceptual. Our people must understand that learning is a continual process. Graduating from college is just the beginning of the learning experience and not the end as we seem to think in Africa. Once out of school, we seem to say to ourselves “to hell with the books” and welcome to the beer drinking, the night club dancing, and the many other pleasures and stimuli of the physical senses. Knowledge is not a static value. It’s dynamic and changing. Our knowledge is just as good as today. Tomorrow, there will be changes in the world we live in, and our knowledge must be updated and adapted to accommodate the changes, lest we become outdated, obsolete and irrelevant.

The people of this generation must engage in continual selective learning and problem solving reading. Everyday, read on a topic and share your experience and knowledge to the world. The internet has now made this seamlessly possible. That’s how you make an impact and contribute to change your environment.

The central premise of changing our country is that when the people will become knowledgeable enough of the topics and problems of our society, when they become aware and conscious of the need and the necessity to be a stakeholder of the future of their country, they will engender the progressive leap that will effectively change society. They will take the fight to the oppressor, and this time they will truly earn their freedom and understand the stakes of liberty.

So, reading and writing are the most effective ways to socialize, share and expand our bibliographical and conceptual knowledge. On the other hand, travelling the world, learning other languages and cultures, experiencing other people’s way of life is the most effective way to expand in the area of experiential knowledge.

The topic of impacting the human IQ will not be complete without some words on how freedom and liberties impact the human IQ. I have certainly written a lot on Freedom on this site.

The lack of freedom and liberties in African dictatorships are perhaps the single most liability in the development of the human IQ in the African continent. When the human being is oppressed and deprived from the ability to express his thoughts and feelings, the human mind will gradually loss its ability to reason, to think and to understand. This will necessarily suppress and shrink the human intellect over the course of time.

Freedom is the instinctive impulse within the human spirit to strive to achieve greater heights. Freedom is the elation, the exuberance within the human consciousness to try new things, to think out of the box, to challenge the status-quo, to dare defy conventional wisdom, to imagine the world as it’s never been and ask the question why not. Freedom and liberty will summon the good spirit of a people to stand for what’s right, just and true. Freedom will harness the natural instincts of creativity, ingenuity, imagination within the human consciousness, waiting to be unleashed. Freedom animates the profound desire for emancipation, expansion of human intellect and the human mind. Freedom is the understanding that you are responsible for your destiny. It informs that you are the sole party that engenders the cause, and predisposes you to accept the outcome. It informs that you are at cause of the outcomes of your choices and actions. Empirical evidence shows that when the human spirit has achieved a sufficient understanding of freedom and the responsibilities associated with it, the human mind becomes ready to unleash its full potential and transform its surrounding for the better. Freedom is simply an indispensable element in the development of the human IQ.

The human intellect will expand when exposed to education –conceptual, experiential and spiritual—and when the environment is conducive to the expansion of the human mind, and grants freedom for the mind and intellect to express its conscious and subconscious will. Free societies tends to produce smarter children, better citizens and better intellectuals than oppressed ones.

 

Self-Education

Another sliver of spiritual Education is SELF-learning. Self-learning is the ability to train your mind to teach itself. It’s learning by introspection. In this case, you have to reach out to the depth of your being and teach yourself. The type of knowledge acquired in self learning can’t always be taught. It’s the knowledge that makes Samuel Eto’o and Roger Milla such agile goal scorers. It’s what makes Martin Luther King Jr or Barack Obama such great orators. Simply put, this knowledge is acquired through introspection, – and not intellect alone--, reaching down to the soul of man and tapping into its reservoir of inherent and unexplored capabilities and talent. The human soul is a large reservoir of hidden and esoteric knowledge waiting to be explored. Meditation, concentration and visualization are mental exercises intended to help reach down to this reservoir. The human mind must expand and extend before it can perceive and realize the treasure within this reservoir.

As mentioned earlier, the human intellect has to be cultivated and nurtured in order to expand and extend its capabilities. You do this on a daily basis by being conscious of your existence. When you meet people, pay attention, not just to what they say, but to every details to the extend that you can. Pay attention to the color and shape of a shirt, a tie, or a shoe, a body language etc.. and more importantly, listen to the feelings being conveyed to you by the event, the visual and auditory impacts. The impressions you get, is the voice of your inner most being speaking, it’s the Universe revealing esoteric information to you. When talking to people, listen very carefully to what they say. Pay attention to every word they speak, and the meaning within the context of the speech. When you express yourself, take the time to choose your words carefully. Only use words that convey the meaning of what you are trying to express. Don’t use words with no meaning and out of context just to impress your audience, because you will accomplish quite the opposite. Be mentally rigorous, principled and disciplined. Be strict in your analysis and judgment. Always try to look at things in more than one way. Look at the pros and cons of every arguments, every situation. Don’t be quick to reach conclusions. Challenge yourself to find arguments to reach the opposite conclusion. That’s how slowly and gradually you train the muscle of the mind and keep it in motion. The human mind is truly a muscle. When trained and nurtured, it expands and extends. When not, it shrinks and loses its elasticity.

Take the time to perform mental exercises such as meditation, concentration, contemplation and visualization. Find the time to retreat from the world and be alone and keep the mind quiet. In the absolute quietness of the mind, the small voice of your inner most being speaks –to you--. Pay attention to it, for it’s the voice of the Universe reaching out to you. Stay away from noisy, angry, bellicose, hostile and argumentative people because they are a hindrance to your progression and your expansion. Learn to keep cool and control your emotions. And gradually, slowly, but surely you will expand your intellect and improve on your IQ.

Don’t be quick to anger. Don’t rush to judgment. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Don’t let your emotions cloud your judgment and rational analysis. Don’t allow your emotions to control you. Acknowledge the rationality behind all sound argument, even those arguments that you may not like or may not agree with. Don’t try to be right all of the time at all course. Accept the rational in another’s argument.

Life is an experiment of coexistence, mutual exchange and mutual learning. No one has all the answers. No one knows it all. The whole of the knowledge we seek is in parcels in each and every one of us. The change we seek is in little chunks in each and every one of us. The future we imagine is the aggregate of our individual imagination and ingenuity as a people. We must work collaboratively to summon our collective ingenuity as a people. We must learn to collaborate, to share, to work together towards a common goal. We must learn to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, just as each and every cell of your body is part of a larger purpose in the grandiose scheme of keeping your body alive and healthy. We must overcome the vices of our minds and the weaknesses that hinder the expansion of the human intellect and soul. We must emancipate ourselves from mental slavery. We must transcend our negative instincts of hate, envy, tribalism and corruption. We must learn together and from each other in every moment and every conversation. The universe around you is a collaborative space waiting to be filled with our imagination.

When we do these things, we begin to harness our collective ingenuity and imagination. We begin to explore and descover our collective creativity as a people. We begin to understand that society only works better when we, as a people work collaboratively and collectively towards a common cause and a common goal. What unites us must be stronger than what divides us. Our bonds as a people can be strained but must not be broken. Our cause is the same. Our goal is the same. Our objective is the same. To build a better life and a better country for our people and our children. And together, we are only stronger as a people. So let’s get to work !

 

The human mind is truly a muscle. When trained and nurtured, it expands and extends. When not, it shrinks and loses its elasticity. –ANST—

“We must emancipate ourselves from mental slavery. We must transcend our negative instincts of hate, envy, tribalism and corruption. This is the change from within.” –ANST—

 

“The whole of the knowledge we seek is in parcels in each and every one of us. The change we seek is in little chunks in each and every one of us. The future we imagine is the aggregate of our individual imagination and ingenuity as a people. We must work collaboratively to summon our collective ingenuity as a people.” –ANST—

 

“We must learn to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, just as each and every cell of your body is part of a larger purpose in the grandiose scheme of keeping your body alive and healthy.” –ANST--

 

"The central premise of changing our country is that when the people will become knowledgeable enough of the topics and problems of our society, when they become aware and conscious of the need and the necessity to be a stakeholder of the future of their country, they will engender the progressive leap that will effectively change society." --ANST--

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Picture depicting average IQ per country.

 

 

 

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