Intelligence and Culture

Intelligence and Culture


[ Music ]>>The Aborigines of Australia
have survived the trackless waste of the continent
for centuries. To do so they have developed
extraordinary visual spatial skills, a feature of
the right hemisphere. Has the combination
of experience and evolution changed
the way they think? Aboriginal children
do not perform as well as white Australian children
on conventional verbal tests. One psychologist, Judy Kearins, thought the tests might
be ignoring the Aborigines real skills.>>The children I’ve found know
a great deal more than I do and a great deal more than
most white Australian people. They take for granted
that we possess most of the knowledge they
have, and we don’t. They think that a sense
of direction is built into everybody’s instinct, and
also the same thing applies to all their knowledge about
the wildlife of their region. They don’t really
seem to think that any of their knowledge is special
and it is very much so.>>Dr. Kearins believes that Aboriginal children
use their visual and spatial memories
more than white children. She invented a game
to test her theory. The task? To remember
the positions of a set of objects on a board. The manmade objects
should be easier for verbally oriented
children to remember because natural objects
are not as easily described and remembered in words. Kearins used both natural
and manmade objects.>>All right, open
your eyes and see.>>The most difficult
group of all to describe verbally–
12 stones. Filimina has 30 seconds to memorize the positions
of the stones. She can take as long as
she likes to put them back. [ Pause ]>>Okay, very good. Now I’ll show you, they’re
almost all in the right places. That one’s right. That one’s right. That one’s right. That one’s right. So is that and that and that. That is. That is. That is. That is. These two should
be swapped around. I’ve been testing aboriginal
children between the ages of 6 and about 16 years and they always perform better
than white Australian children and also the rate
of superiority, if you like, stays
about the same. They perform at about the,
about three years ahead of the white Australian
children. So that an Aboriginal child of
about seven years would perform about as well as a 10 year
old white Australian child. Not quite as well, but it’s
about a three year difference. They also tend to
perform these tasks in even ways in terms of tempo. They don’t hurry and put a
few back and then slow down. They seem to perform at
the same rate all the time and they also don’t mutter
or mumble which a lot of white Australian children
have done while they were doing the tasks, while thinking. They fix to learn the names
hoping that that would help them to remember where
the items went.>>The two groups of children
use different strategies and perhaps different parts of their brains to
solve the puzzles.