a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


Mirrors and in-and-out reversal


IQ and my perfect school
Richard Gregory Scientist
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments
I’m not an expert on this at all but I think that IQ is an extremely dodgy topic. It’s dodgy socially and I think, this is not original, I mean Sir Peter Medawar said this before I did years ago, that it’s really wrong to think of IQ as one dimension that you can get, say, a child at school, you give a number, and that rates him for the rest of his life, you know. Now, one reason, I think, against it and I think Peter Medawar said the same thing, is that there are many, many different kinds of abilities. One might be amazingly good at cooking, arithmetic, philosophy, doing a television interview, even being in that interview possibly, some people look better than others, I don’t claim to be very good myself, but you really need a sort of a sub-IQ point for these different dimensions. We’re not one dimensional, we’re multi-dimensional creatures with an enormous range of abilities. Now, it’s very important because if you’ve got, say, a child at school who rated with low IQ because he’s no good at history or Latin or mathematics or something, it doesn’t mean he’s not going to be amazing at cooking or making a home or making damn funny jokes, becoming a millionaire on the radio, you know, with jokes or something. Indeed, this can happen, so I think the trick is to show children the variety of possibilities, find out what they would really like to develop in themselves and have the freedom and the opportunities and the rewards to develop for themselves what they want to do and not in a very rigid framework. I don’t believe in a rigid framework and then I think they will get the sense of self worth if they’re good at making meringues or they’re good at doing differential equations. The trick is not exactly to say it’s as good to be able to do differential equations as it is to make a meringue but at least say both things are worth doing, let’s reward and in a way feel that people who do either are worthy and worthwhile. So what would your ideal school be like? Well, it would be a like the slightly mad school I went to, King Alfred’s. I’ve got to be careful about this because it’s still there, lots of very bright and good people go to it and I think it’s a jolly good school but I would have more discipline. I would decide which subject you really have to learn, nitty gritty, and get people to learn it even if it’s boring and make sure they’ve got the basics, I really would do that. But I think the trick is one can and should run before one can walk. I don’t believe necessarily in doing this sequentially. What I actually think is this. I think that if one is trying to do something and you realise you’re hopeless at it, then there are two things you can do. You can give it up or you can say, golly, I’ve really got to learn such and such in order to be able to do it, and 10% of those children are going to say to themselves, I would really like to speak Latin or write Latin at least, you know, I’ve got to learn these verbs or whatever, and then you do because you’ve run enough and fallen over to know that it’s worth while and it comes from yourself not from the word of a teacher. You have to discover for yourself what you want to do, discover what you’re inadequate at in order to achieve it, then you’ve got the incentive, if you go that way, to get the nitty gritty groundwork done, then you can achieve. I think you need this flexibility.

The late British psychologist and Emeritus Professor of Neuropsychology at the University of Bristol, Richard Gregory (1923-2010), is well known for his work on perception, the psychology of seeing and his love of puns. In 1978 he founded The Exploratory, an applied science centre in Bristol – the first of its kind in the UK. He also designed and directed the Special Senses Laboratory at Cambridge which worked on the perceptual problems of astronauts, and published many books including 'The Oxford Companion to the Mind', 'Eye and Brain' and 'Mind in Science'.

Listeners: Sally Duensing Adam Hart-Davis

Sally Duensing currently is involved in perception exhibition work and research on science and society dialogue programmes and is working with informal learning research graduate students and post-docs at King's College, London. In 2000 she held the Collier Chair, a one-year invited professorship in the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Bristol, England. Prior to this, for over 20 years she was at the Exploratorium, a highly interactive museum of science, art and perception in San Francisco where she directed a variety of exhibition projects primarily in fields of perception and cognition including a large exhibition on biological, cognitive and cultural aspects of human memory.

Born on 4 July 1943, Adam Hart-Davis is a freelance photographer, writer, and broadcaster. He has won various awards for both television and radio. Before presenting, Adam spent 5 years in publishing and 17 years at Yorkshire Television, as researcher and then producer of such series as Scientific Eye and Arthur C Clarke's World of Strange Powers. He has read several books, and written about 25. His latest books are Why does a ball bounce?, Taking the piss, Just another day, and The cosmos: a beginner's guide. He has written numerous newspaper and magazine articles. He is a keen supporter of the charities WaterAid, Practical Action, Sustrans, and the Joliba Trust. A Companion of the Institution of Lighting Engineers, an Honorary Member of the British Toilet Association, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Society of Dyers and Colourists, and Merton College Oxford, and patron of a dozen charitable organizations, Adam has collected thirteen honorary doctorates, The Horace Hockley Award from the Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators, a Medal from the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Sir Henry Royce Memorial Medal from the Institute of Incorporated Engineers, and the 1999 Gerald Frewer memorial trophy of the Council of Engineering Designers. He has no car, but three cycles, which he rides slowly but with enthusiasm.

Duration: 3 minutes, 44 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2006

Date story went live: 02 June 2008