What is more essential: intelligence or education?

Intelligence and education are two concepts that are often used interchangeably. They are often referenced and alluded to in the same areas and are held as highly esteemed characteristics.

Although the two concepts have a great amount of overlap in their classification, it is important to note that they are very distinct skills.

Intelligence has to do with an individual’s ability to adapt to a certain environment or to adapt to change. It is defined as “the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.”

In terms of education, the vast majority of people maintain that education has to do with pedagogy or teaching. When people think of education, they often think of a scholastic setting in which a teacher is providing instruction to a student.

In a more general sense, education is also defined as “the knowledge and development resulting from a process of education”. In this definition, there is often a tendency to use education and intelligence interchangeably.

Depending on the way in which the terms are used, this interchangeability may seem accurate yet, it is not. The truth is that these concepts are independent of one another; they are not synonymous.

A person can be intelligent but lacking in intelligence. And likewise a person can be educated but lacking in intelligence. It must also be understood that a person can be intelligent and educated at the same time. With this understanding in mind, what is the association between these two skill sets?

According to a Developmental Psychology journal written by Paul Baltes and Guenther Reinhert, an enclosed study conducted on German children illustrates a telling connection between intelligence and education.

In using eight to 10-year-olds as a sample group, the study demonstrated that “Eight year olds who had received an extra year in school were closer in intelligence to the 10 year olds who were a year behind, than the eight year olds who were a year behind”.

This conclusion reveals that education can have beneficial effects on one’s intelligence. It then begs the question, does the contrary also hold true? Can intelligence have a beneficial impact on education?

As a student at Wilkes, I can attest to the fact that intelligence can have an advantageous effect on one’s education. In many fields of study I have noticed that a great deal of subjects are cumulative in nature. For this reason, they have the capacity to build on one another.

If you take English 101 for example, you would take English 120 after and the level would increase. You would also notice that as the levels increase, concepts that you have learned before are frequently referenced or alluded to.

A person can demonstrate intelligence by showcasing their ability acquire the knowledge given to them at every level of a subject that they can then apply to higher levels.

In this sense, intelligence can facilitate and benefit one’s educational experience. In an effort to illustrate the interdependence of intelligence and education, one can compare intelligence to a glass vase and education as the water or material that is placed in the vase. They can exist independently but they are also highly interdependent.

With the distinction and interdependent nature of education and intelligence established, which of these are essential? Or in other words, which is more important? Personally I believe that intelligence is more essential. Intelligence allows a person who may live in adverse conditions to survive.

Education is primarily focused on survival and success in an academic and often career based sense. Education allows a person to be able to understand the intricacies of the phenomena that occur around them.

Intelligence allows you to acquire knowledge or intel gathered from daily experiences whether academic or practical which can then be applied and utilized to thrive academically or in a general sense.

For those who do not have access to education, intelligence is necessary for one’s survival. Often when access to education is limited, danger is in abundance and thus it is imperative that a person is intelligent enough to survive given such conditions.

This does not undermine the importance of education, both are extremely important. However in my opinion, if you had the option of only possessing on of these skills, intelligence would prove to be advantageous to a you in many situations.