Open Intelligence

by Heidi Nord July 31, 2016

Open Intelligence


I love the topic of intelligence.  When I think of something that has not been yet discovered, I feel like the brightest inventor ever!  Then, when I burn dinner, I wonder how I am still surviving at forty six.  Luckily, I’ve learned I’m not alone in this pattern, after hearing stories of brilliant minds making quite ordinary mistakes.

This makes me ponder: What does it mean to be intelligent?

Maybe intelligence has thousands to millions of forms.  A chef may be great at making dinner, but may not be able to change oil in a car to save his life.  A seven-figure computer analyst may not be able to send an email because of her poor spelling.  An artist may sell paintings for thousands of dollars, but not be able to pay her bills.  I bet you have some stories to tell here too, because this paradox is everywhere in life.

One concept I’ve thought about is something I call “Open Intelligence”.  What I mean by this, is that as a society, we can all be open to different forms of intelligence.  If we are closed to how intelligence is expressed, we will miss opportunities to notice and grow as humans.

This is especially important in classrooms around the world.  

If teachers open their mindsets about what student success means, we may just take a collective leap in intelligence.

One time, I went to dinner with members of my book club.  There were two other teachers in the group, and one was talking about the poor behavior of a student and said, “I mean, during reading time, she was holding her book upside-down!”  Her tone about the student clearly conveyed her dislike and lack of confidence in her abilities.
I said, “Wow, she could read upside-down, that’s awesome!”

The truth is, the intention of a teacher makes a huge impact on the outcome of the student. If you expect students to not learn, be unintelligent or behave poorly, you’ll make those opinions come true.

Our brains are constantly seeking answers and solving puzzles.  So, of course your actual questions matter.  And greatly!  If I’m looking for where a student is not intelligent, my brain will notice behaviors that prove I’m right!  So, negative questions will get you negative answers.

Conversely, if I ask positive questions about students, my brain will seek ways to prove those are positive outcomes as well.  “How are my students intelligent?”  Is a great question to ask, because then you’ll be looking for ways they display intelligence.

Consider the following ways people can show intelligence:

Being kind to animals.
Eating healthy.
Exercising regularly.
Answering math problems.
Enthusiasm for learning.
Good self-care.
Helping another student.
Cleaning personal space.
Staying calm.
Mediating arguments.
Being peaceful.
Creating art.
Playing the piano.
Doing science experiments.

What really is intelligence?

Answers will surprise and delight you, once you open your mind to what Open Intelligence could mean, not only in our schools but in our world.

Intelligence is an administrator who understands that happy students learn more.

Happy students are engaged, excited, and have self-motivation to learn.

I vision this to become a reality, as humans take a major evolutionary leap. We need forerunners, who will take the ball and show others where we are capable to go, what our brains and hearts are capable of doing, in this lifetime.

We are at the precipice of making a giant educational leap.  It’s so exciting to imagine the possibilities of how our world can change.

One student at a time.
One parent at a time.
One teacher at a time.
One administrator at a time.
One superintendent at a time.
One leads to hundreds, to thousands, then millions.
I am Open to the Intelligence around me.

-Heidi Nord

Heidi Nord
Heidi Nord


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