City children score better on memory skills than the world average, a study of more than 200 children using the latest version of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) found. It was published earlier this year in the Bombay Psychologist, a respected Indian journal.
Now the norm in the US and UK, this 2004 IQ test includes more parameters than the 1970 version normally used in India, looking at new dimensions of intelligence such as working memory and word reasoning in addition to verbal reasoning and performance-based activities. (see box).
The children in the study more or less matched the average of 100 points in the rest of the parameters, but for memory, the average was almost 110.
“The primary reason for this could be the education environment in the country, which focuses on rote learning, memorising and attention span,” said Dr Hemal Shroff from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, who was a part of the study. “One cannot say if this is a good or bad reflection of our education system, but being above-average in any aspect of intelligence is good.”
The study involved three counselling centres — Institute of psychological health, Thane, Disha Counselling Centre, Dadar and Umeed Child Development Centre, Lower Parel with children of English medium schools from different socio-economic backgrounds.
But is an IQ test itself a reliable indicator of intelligence? “Not necessarily,” said Shroff. “For example, no IQ test looks at social intelligence and emotional intelligence, both very important aspects of everyday living.”
Said Kamala Mukunda, author of What did you ask at school today? : “All intelligence is influenced by the social and cultural environment so an IQ test cannot be generalised for all.”
Indeed, psychologists dissuade parents from having their children take IQ tests out of mere curiosity. “It should be taken only if there is an issue like a child not doing well,” said Anuradha Sovani, head of applied psychology at the University of Mumbai and also part of the study. “Several times, it is because of the teaching technique. An IQ test can help understand what technique a child can best comprehend.”