Smart Definition Essay

Recently I’ve become a bit obsessed with the word “smart” in schools. And I think we have a problem.

I don’t know when it happens, but students learn that some kids at school are “smart.” Everyone knows who the “smart” kids are. Survey your students and they’d probably name the same five kids.

“Smart” is extremely common praise at school.

What Does “Smart” Mean?

I got to wondering: what does “smart” even mean? It’s a surprisingly difficult word to figure out. But in school it has a pretty specific meaning. Take a couple moments and ask your class to define it.

Class, I’ve noticed that sometimes we say people are “smart” at school. Why do we call people “smart”?

I’ll bet your students think that “smart” kids:

  • “know a lot”
  • finish tests quickly
  • are never called over by the teacher
  • always have an answer
  • don’t make mistakes

In short, kids think their peers are “smart” when school appears to be easy for them (please see this Calvin and Hobbes comic for a wonderful example of this).

But “easy” isn’t what smart should mean! And it certainly shouldn’t be something we praise kids for. “Easy” often means they already knew it!

“Smart” Is Slippery

The more I thought about it, the harder it became to define “smart.” I even looked it up:

Smart (adj): having or showing a quick-witted intelligence.

Oof! That’s not very helpful. So what does intelligence mean?

Intelligence (noun): the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.

Wow. “The ability to acquire knowledge?” That doesn’t seem right. Perhaps no one knows what “smart” actually means?

It might be fun to have your class survey parents, friends, siblings, etc and gather a bunch of definitions of “smart” to see what the patterns are.

Make “Smart” A Bad Word

But if we don’t have a clear definition of “smart”, let’s get rid of it. It’s too vague. It has weird connotations at school. Make it a bad word.

I’ve tried eliminating “smart” from my own vocabulary. It takes work. I really have to think. What about this person am I praising? What did they do with their brain that impressed me? What do I mean by “smart”?

Brainstorm specific compliments that could replace “you’re smart” with your class.

Class, it seems like “smart” means lots of different things. I don’t think it’s a very helpful word. It’s a shortcut word. So from now on, let’s try to be more specific. What could we praise someone for rather than just calling them “smart”?

  • You made an unexpected connection!
  • You understood that very quickly.
  • You used some information that no one else knew!
  • You noticed something that I didn’t notice.
  • You explained that idea so clearly, a five year old could understand it.

Create a classroom collection of specific “smart” praise. This will absolutely be a year-long project. Be aware of moments to call out actions you notice and add to the “specific praise” list.

If It’s Easy, Don’t Say “Smart”

Finally, if something’s easy for a kid, do not tell them they’re smart. Point out how easy it was, congratulate them, but get them working on something interesting stat.

Always “easy” is an educational emergency.

In the next article in this series, we’ll look at how “smart” becomes a burden for bright kids as they get older.

Tags: smart, Social Emotional

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Essay on Intelligence: Definition, Intelligence Quotient and Distribution of Intelligence !

“Intelligence is what you use when you do not know what to do” – Jean Piaget.

Meaning and Definition:

Human being is considered to be the most intelligent animal in this world. He is capable of controlling all other beings and many other things in this world.

Intelligence has a very important role in day- to-day activities of the individual.

The word intelligence has been derived from a Latin verb ‘intellegere’ means to understand.

What is intelligence? There are many answers for this question. The concept of intelligence has been understood by psychologists in different ways. Therefore, there are a number of definitions. The following are some of the important definitions:

Alfred Binet:

Intelligence is something which sensory acuity tests or reaction time experiments measure.


Intelligence is the capacity of the organism to adjust itself to an increasingly complex environment.


Intelligence is the ability to carry on abstract thinking.


It is the capacity for flexible adjustment.


Intelligence is the degree of availability of one’s experiences for the solution of immediate problems and the anticipation of the future ones.


Intelligence is the capacity for constructive thinking, which involves a discovery of appropriate qualities and relations of the ideas, that are before us and bringing in of other relevant ideas.

All these definitions define intelligence in their own way, but they are incomplete, because they give incomplete picture. In view of this problem, many psychologists have accepted a definition by Wechsler. David Wechsler (1944) who devised the intelligence tests for children as well as adults tried to provide a somewhat comprehensive definition:

“Intelligence is the aggregate or global capacity of an individual to think rationally, to act purposefully and to deal effectively with his environment”.

This definition includes three important processes, viz., to act purposefully means, to act in a determined way without any ambiguity, to think appropriately in a rational way without any prejudices and to deal effectively with the environment or to adjust in a proper way with the environment.

Intelligence Quotient (IQ):

As said above every individual will possess some amount of intelligence. We may be able to say whether the individual is less intelligent or more intelligent on the basis of his performance in activities. But to know the exact quantity of intelligence possessed by an individual, administration of an intelligence test is essential.

When a test is administered we get a score which may be converted into Mental Age (M A), the concept developed by Alfred Binet. This is an index of his mental ability. But this score does not give us the quantitative measure of his mental ability or intelligence.

Hence, in order to know a quantitative measure, a German psychologist by name William Stern proposed a formula, i.e. MA/CA x 100.

The output we get out of this formula was called as Intelligence Quotient (IQ) by Stern, which is the index of the quantity of intelligence possessed by the person. The Chronological Age (CA) will be the actual or real age of the person.

The resultant product of MA divided by CA may be in decimal point, which does not give a clear picture. Hence, in order to overcome this problem of decimal points, Stern suggested that the product be multiplied by 100. This product will be supposed to be the quantity of intelligence possessed by the individual.

Binet and other psychologists had a firm belief that the IQ remains constant and it will not change though the individual grows chronologically. They believed that the growth of intelligence will be ceased by 16th year in almost all individuals.

Hence, they restricted CA to 16 years-irrespective of the age of individuals after 16 years. That is why the actual CA will be considered if the age is below 16 years while calculating IQ. But it will be taken as only 16, even if the age of the individual exceeds 16 years.

Examples: IQ=MA/CA× 100

= 10/10×100=100

= 12/10×100=120

= 8/10×100=80

Distribution of Intelligence:

Every individual in a society will have some amount of intelligence. But they differ in the level of intelligence.

Some may be very dull, some may be average and some other people may be more intelligent. But how many of them in a group or a society are dull or intelligent or average? The answer to this question lies in knowing the distribution of intelligence in a given population.

If we measure the intelligence of a large number of people and plot the IQ scores of these people on a graph, it assumes the shape of a “Normal Distribution Curve” or otherwise called ‘Bell Shaped Curve’ (Fig. 3.11).

This curve indicates that, a very few people will be at the lowest score and the equal number will be at the highest level of the IQ. The number gradually increases as we go up from the lowest point till we reach the midpoint or the average. A large number of people in a population will cluster around the mean score.

The number gradually decreases from the midpoint till the highest level is reached wherein there will be very few individuals. The lower side of the curve indicates the people with low intelligence and the higher side indicates people with above average level of intelligence.

Table 3.1 showing the distribution of individuals according to IQ scores and their classification:

Mentally retarded are divided as follows:

(According to American Association for Mentally Retarded)

Terman and Goddard have classified MR as follows:

(a) Idiots: IQ: 0-25,

(b) Imbecile: IQ: 26-50

(c) Moron: IQ: 51-70

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