This article first appeared in New Horizons' Newsletter, Vol. VI No. 3, Spring, 1986.
Every man has the natural right to develop his own genetic potentiality and the right to use all the existing scientific knowledge that can facilitate said development. Therefore, society has the duty of making the fruits of science available to people. I n the fulfillment of this duty, and as a proof of his will to make out of education the priority task of his Government, the President of Venezuela, Luis Herrera Campins, at the beginning of his Administration in March 1979, appointed a Minister of State for the Development of Intelligence.
With this decision, a President, for the first time in history, granted intelligence and its development a political dimension. The goal to achieve was that intelligence becomes a fruitful reality in the hands of great majorities, and not the unique attribute of a few privileged ones. It involves the democratization of intelligence through the democratization of science. This means that all scientific knowledge that can contribute to the development of the genetic capacity of human beings -- the most valuable inheritance man can have-be used by them all.
The development of the intelligence of all the people has to be the fundamental aim of our times. To guarantee peace, democracy and freedom throughout the world, the development of the intelligence of each and every citizen has to become a national goal in all countries of the world. A universal goal.
Violence under any of its forms will always be a manifestation of barbarism: among animals, the only law. Nothing is gained with war, terrorism, threats. Everything is to be gained with peace. Through the development of the people's intelligence, some day there will be no more violence in the world. Intelligence is its best antidote.
Democracy is the result of the will and intelligence of people. To make democracy possible we need a "democratic man." A man that does not only fervently desire democracy, but that can also generate within himself the faculties needed to live democracy. If democracy is the government of the people, the people's capacity for participation must grow continuously.
The democratization of science is a basic requirement for a true democracy in which all individuals can receive the benefits of science, accomplishing at the same time an active role in the country's development process and in the determination of their own destiny.
The development of intelligence is a fundamental educational factor for participation. Education for participation needs a process that precedes, surpasses and goes beyond classrooms: a process aimed at the self-discovery of the person and his environment ; that will reinforce the reasoning capacity for analyzing and judging, and that will enrich the inner world of each individual through the awareness of his own dignity and that of his neighbor. It is a true process of personalization, that is to say, the strengthening of the human being and his specific qualities, intelligence and affectivity as a whole.
Education for participation must involve all environments, from family and classrooms to public service organizations and labor, cultural and recreational centers, stimulating inventiveness, criticism, responsible effort and creativity.
Without the development of intelligence man cannot participate in social life in a conscious and responsible manner. Participation depends on the thorough development of each individual's potentialities. And the development of intelligence means in itself the development of all human capacities.
History's most important ideal has been that of freedom. Everyone has the right to be free and the right to be freer. Intelligence is a tool for freedom. It is an absolutely necessary tool: without intelligence, no one can be free. The human person can be freer by the perfection of his own being, which is gained in the progressive actualization of all his faculties.
For the achievement of these goals, in my opinion, the programs for the Development of Intelligence should, through the formal and non-formal educational systems and with the massive utilization of mass media, be based on the following principles:
-- The programs must be directed to the whole population, with special emphasis on the less favored classes which are the ones who need more social and educational participation in society for the achievement of their own development;
-- The action has to be aimed at covering each of the stages of human life. Today, the knowledge allows us to confirm that our capacities can be developed at any age. Life evolves through the development of skills and it is never too early nor too late for this development;
-- All programs have to have a rigorous scientific basis in agreement with the most recent findings of research and supported by the current concept of intelligence which emphasizes its dynamic and evolutionary character- not fixed nor predetermined-and o n the decisive influence of external stimuli on its development;
--The action for the development of human intelligence must be kept totally isolated from political proselytism and from the struggles of political parties;
--All the programs should be carried out in terms of each country's concrete realities;
--From the beginning the policy and programs implemented have to be projected at the international level, so that all nations of the world, without any type of discrimination can participate in maximizing the cooperative use of available scientific resources at world level, thus progressively achieving the most thorough development of man's capacities.
In a continuous and permanent educational action, both in school and out of school, the programs for the development of intelligence must cover the first six years of life, considered as a special stage, and then continue throughout all educational systems, from kindergarten to the university, and later on expand to adulthood.
The development and functioning of the brain during early childhood depends on the quality and quantity of interaction existing between the child and his environment. As it has already been proved with scientific research, senso-motor experiences are basic for the development of cognitive capacities.
The brain of a newborn is characterized by its immaturity and plasticity. This stimulation is basic for the complete development of the human being's biopsycho-social potential. A program directed to the first years of life should have as a basic objective to offer all children, through their families, the opportunity of achieving a maximum development of their potentialities, from the embryonic stage up to the age of six. The idea is to train parents and other adults surrounding the child on the effective procedures that contribute to the complete development of the child.
The family is the basic cell of society, and as such it must also become the basic cell of the entire educational system, whose focus must the move from the school to the home. Having in mind that the preschool stage starts at pregnancy, education should start at the moment of conception, with parents acting as teachers. They have in their hands the development of the new men and women in the most important stage of their development. They have to be trained to fulfill this task, the most important one t hat can be thought of for the benefit of society.
On the other hand, one of the most urgent needs of every country is a deep and thorough reform of its educational system as a whole. The learning of any discipline involves certain basic mental processes that are prerequisites for the assimilation of knowledge. But these processes are not thoroughly learned in a spontaneous manner; there must be deliberate and systematic teaching and practice of the processes so as to increase thinking skills, learning capacity and, subsequently, school performance.
Within the formal education system, the programs for the development of intelligence have to incorporate the learning and practice of those mental capacities through methodologies that besides being a vehicle for cognitive development, can act on other aspects of personality.
Contents change, systems remain. The most important educational goal is learning to learn.
Programs for the development of intelligence should be also directed to the adult population that is not part of the country's formal educational system, so as to attain permanent development of each citizen's potential.
Human dignity is the same for everyone: men, women, children, youngsters and old people. Everybody has the right to develop his own personality. It is possible to deliberately stimulate and raise the cognitive dimensions of each individual without the limitations of age or educational level.
The purpose of all action to stimulate human potential is that each individual can grow in an attitude of ongoing interest in education that will make him respond to society in an independent manner, without submission, within the framework of the integrity of human capacities.
The basic objective of all programs for the development of human intelligence is to offer the benefits of scientific knowledge to all the people of every country, with no discrimination, so that they can participate as main characters in the creation of the future-- a future of freedom, democracy and peace.
Through the development of human intelligence we can achieve that future. Now, at the end of the 20th century, this has to be our goal. Our universal goal.
Dr. Luiz Alberto Machado was Minister for the Development of Human Intelligence in Venezuela from 1979 to 1985.
Copyright © 1997
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