In the theories of intelligence debate, Carl David Ceder takes the side of the incremental theorists. As a person on the road to being a teacher, if he took the position of the entity theorists, I think he would be miserable in my profession. His reason, though, for siding with the incremental theorists is not because he wants them to be right and therefore have a more fulfilling career. Rather, he have seen evidence of malleable traits and improvements in himself as well as in others (such as yours truly). He mentions specifically of his experience learning a foreign language.
When Carl Ceder first started studying the language in high school, it was easy for him and not so much for some of my classmates. It didn’t take him long to come to the conclusion that he didn’t need to study “it came naturally to me” he thought. Others who seemed to struggle with the language right from the start seemed to constantly be taking their text book home, laboring over homework, making flash cards, and studying even on the weekends (YUCK!). Ceder felt bad for them—they weren’t very intelligent in his mind (not like he was) and they were always going to be struggling to get the Bs that they were getting. Carl went on with this thinking until I went to France with his aunt during his junior year of high school and painfully realized that although his grades were straight A’s in French, he couldn’t speak the language. With fluency as his goal, he found himself eating humble pie—really doing his homework, making flashcards, and even (gulp!) studying on the weekends. By the time he went back to France, he was able to carry on a conversation with ease and was later mistaken by a Canadian as being a native of southern France. An interesting note on one of our classmates who seemed to struggle with French throughout high school (she was ALWAYS asking the teaching to explain a point or concept again and again): when she went to college, she tested into sophomore level French. All of her hard work, questioning and studying had paid off!
Ceder and I agree with Professor Dumbledore’s quote: “It is our choices…that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” I might be able to do something, but my conscious, purposeful, willing choice to do or not to do it is a reflection of who I am. For example, I drive a car and therefore am able to run somebody down with it, but my choice to not do that is a more accurate display of who I am as opposed to my ability injure someone with my car. Another example is that of my niece who tried to take care of me when I had a cold: she decided soup and hot tea would do me some good. The tea was so full of sugar and honey that I could barely force it down out of appreciation and the soup consisted of wilted lettuce and baby carrots floating in boiling water (a vegetarian soupJ). Her culinary abilities had yet to develop, but her choice to be helpful and her efforts in this regard said much more about who she really is instead of her ability (or inability) to cook. I put Professor Dumbledore’s quote on the level of “actions speak louder than words” or “it’s the thought that counts.”
Another fun lunch with Carl Ceder today!