• Olivia Halsall

Educhaos 4: A Conversation with My Father On The Intelligence Trap

Welcome, welcome! OLEA’s Educhaos number four is ready and raring to go. This week I will share a conversation with my father, Mike Halsall (a serial entrepreneur and advisor to governments and emerging technologies start ups), about what intelligence really is (and is not).

A few months ago, you urged me to read The Intelligence Trap, by David Robson. I ordered it, put it on my desk, and after a probe or two and a lull at OLEA as our students focus on their school exams, I have finally picked it up. I’ve absolutely devoured The Intelligence Trap, which Robson states is caused when “greater education and expertise can often amplify our mistakes … rendering us blind to our biases”. What is intelligence to you? Can you share some anecdotal examples of intelligent behaviour / decision-making that you have witnessed in your career?

I've been shocked at times by the differences between intelligent actions taken under pressure, and incredibly foolish conduct which was hard to believe had occurred. I believe intelligence is all about the application of intelligence, nothing theoretical about it, setting aside ego, distractions and fake information, to make lucid decisions. Applying our intelligence is something we should aim to do regularly, ie don't develop the bad habit of waiting for others to act on your behalf, learn how to make intelligent decisions including while under pressure.

On life skills, Robson says that “we assume that they mostly come to us through osmosis, without deliberate training” (page 20) - and yet, as children, you engaged us in certain activities that have prepared me for life beyond institutionalised education. For example, in the summer holidays we would pack up the garage, experiment with Guinness chocolate, and then you’d encourage us to sell to the public from 6am to noon on Sundays. In another instance, we would have family photography competitions - the winner of which would get to choose which cake mum baked that day. Where did your ideas for these activities come from? Would you do anything additionally or differently?

First off, I'd do a lot more of that, every day if possible. Why? I'm currently kayaking the mangroves in the middle east and it's fascinating to watch wildlife in action. Herons fishing, and the little fish working out how to move upstream avoiding herons. Birds of prey perched on tree tops observing everything, waiting for the chance to pounce, hehe, I'm glad they're not too big otherwise I'd also be in trouble. The point is in nature animals have to think constantly, whereas we humans are becoming mentally more lazy by the day.

The OLEA’s Foundational Pillars encompass IQ, EQ, CQ, AQ and SQ. Inspired by Howard Gardener’s theory of “multiple intelligences” (of which there are eight traits), OLEA promotes a more holistic education that modern curriculums and approaches neglect. Gardener’s theory is considered “too broad, without offering precise definitions … beyond the common-sense notion that some people do gravitate to some skills more than others”. What are your thoughts on this? Would you, as a parent, put your children through an innovative education curriculum in the hope that it at least deviates from standard thinking? What would you say to parents who might not feel convinced by OLEA’s Foundational Pillars and Howard Gardener’s theory of “multiple intelligences”?

Let me give you an example, education fails to prepare people for the lifelong need to manage their finances - which is madness. Education for the most part fails to develop thinking skills - how crazy is that? It's quite clear from the research that we all have strengths and weaknesses, each driven by our innate attributes. The job of parent/s is to ensure their children are fully equipped for what is fast becoming an ever more challenging world. Do not assume that education alone will equip your kids for life - it doesn't, so you need to supplement with providers such as OLEA who can help enhance the abilities of your children.

Thanks so much for your contribution to this series of OLEA’s Educhaos, Baba! You da best 💕 For a copy of the Intelligence Trap, click here.

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