A lot has been made of IQ. But how important is it? Not nearly as much as we once thought.

Our view of human intelligence is far too narrow. It ignores a crucial range of multiple intelligence abilities.

Mental dexterity is not the only measure of higher-order thinking. Self-awareness, self-discipline, and empathy are different–but important–ways of being smart.

Recent groundbreaking behavioral research shows how much multiple intelligence abilities matter. These studies explain why people of high IQ may flounder and those of modest IQ can do surprisingly well in their lives.

The first step in applying these insights to your teaching is to shift mental models. Mental models are beliefs that drive what we do and how we do it. These beliefs are so deeply ingrained that we often aren’t even aware of them.

Consider two different mental models that a teacher could have about her students.

In one case, a teacher believes that her students are blank slates. Here are some of the ways a teacher who holds that belief might think and behave:

  • I must present the material correctly.
  • I can tell when my students have learned because they know the right answers.
  • The more information the child can absorb, the better teacher I am.

Another teacher believes that students are active meaning makers. This teacher will have a different set of behaviors/thoughts:

  • I have to create learning experiences that allow children of many styles and ability levels to benefit.
  • As much as possible, the children need to be challenged to ask their own questions and research the possible answers.
  • I can tell that my students have learned when they can actively describe what they know to others.

Mindshift: What IQ Tests Miss explains how educators can shift from one mental model to the other. This is crucial to prepare children for a future that requires more creativity than ever before.