If you are very clever, how did your parents help make that happen?

(235 Posts)
rainbowfairylights Thu 22-Jul-21 11:08:43

Background: I have been with my DP for a couple of years now. Whilst we are both intelligent people with careers we are proud of, DP does seem to have a bit of an air of... I don't know, she's definitely more clever in the sense that she knows a lot.

There are huge differences between our childhoods - I was raised in a family of borderline neglect, didn't have any extra-curricular opportunities and went to an inner-city low ranking school. DP went to one of the best schools in the country, had a variation of extra-curricular going on from sport to music, and their family spend a lot of time doing things like general knowledge quizzes, playing board games, etc etc. I left school at 15 with a mix of grades, DP left at 18 with straight A's at the highest level possible.

I suppose I'm trying to figure out how much of a difference the things DP's parents did with her made, vs how I was raised. We are both successful now and I actually have more higher education success, but as I said, DP is definitely still the more intelligent one. If you have a similar type of intelligence to my lovely DP, can you pin it on childhood experiences, is it a luck of the draw, or more of a mix?

OP’s posts: |
TeenMinusTests Thu 22-Jul-21 11:13:05

I don't think you mean intelligence.

I think you mean culture based general knowledge, plus confidence?

rainbowfairylights Thu 22-Jul-21 11:14:43

TeenMinusTests

I don't think you mean intelligence.

I think you mean culture based general knowledge, plus confidence?

Yes this is probably what I mean - thanks for putting it into actual words, I wasn't quite sure how to phrase it grin

I think it's a quite important quality to have, DP definitely comes off better in professional situations etc.

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Nonmaquillee Thu 22-Jul-21 11:16:36

I think that it’s called “cultural capital “

TeenMinusTests Thu 22-Jul-21 11:17:51

I think you get that from
- private schools (where smaller class sizes and more emphasis on speaking in public help)
- experiences & extra curricular
- reading widely

My DB knows far more than I do because I read fiction and he always has his head stuck in non-fiction books. He's also academically cleverer anyway.

rainbowfairylights Thu 22-Jul-21 11:19:53

Nonmaquillee

I think that it’s called “cultural capital “

Interesting, thank you!

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TeenMinusTests Thu 22-Jul-21 11:20:41

Ultimately, knowing who composed the Four Seasons can be perceived as being 'better' than knowing who won the FA Cup in 1974. But actually there is no reason for that, when you think about it.

Maybe it's just a way of distinguishing 'people like us' from 'people not like us' and a way for the old boys network to operate.

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rainbowfairylights Thu 22-Jul-21 11:20:50

TeenMinusTests

I think you get that from
- private schools (where smaller class sizes and more emphasis on speaking in public help)
- experiences & extra curricular
- reading widely

My DB knows far more than I do because I read fiction and he always has his head stuck in non-fiction books. He's also academically cleverer anyway.

Yep good point. I'm the bigger reader out of DP and I, but I read fiction. When DP does read, it's books about science or other topics, and she's full of facts all the time which I've always found amazing!

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peaceanddove Thu 22-Jul-21 11:21:45

Big difference between intelligence and general knowledge. DH has a high IQ, incredibly gifted at maths, went to a very good university - but his general knowledge isn't great, because he's only interested in scientific stuff.

I also have a high IQ and went to university, but have also read voraciously since a little girl (and retain most of what I read). So, I beat DH hands down at Trivial Pursuit and was a member of a very successful pub quiz team for years.

Homeontherangeuk Thu 22-Jul-21 11:23:34

I think it comes down to experiences & being brought places... Extracurriculars... My dc do alot but the children who go to privates (especially the girls) are extremely competent at sports & can pick up a new sport easier than my dc & more confidently...

PattyPan Thu 22-Jul-21 11:24:09

I think the thing that my parents did that genuinely did help me become intelligent (as in helped my brain develop) is read to me every day. I got really strong verbal reasoning and language skills from it as well as a lifelong love of reading which then obviously helped me further as I was reading lots and benefiting from that.
When I got to university I found that I didn’t have the same rounded knowledge as lots of my peers who had an upbringing probably similar to your DP (although I did do an instrument and a sport) but I have a high IQ so good raw thinking power.

GammyLeg Thu 22-Jul-21 11:24:27

I don’t think it’s an education thing. Some of the smartest and most engaging people I know skipped university.

I think it’s down to fostering a sense of curiosity from a young age; having a supportive parent, and lots of reading.

orinocosfavoritecake Thu 22-Jul-21 11:24:32

Like others said - cultural capital. Also, it’s not just about how much of that capital you have, but about how much the society around you values that capital. E.g. there are thousands of kids in UK growing up with some knowledge of Urdu, Arabic, Tagalog, etc… who don’t get encouraged to take A-levels in those languages.

TeenMinusTests Thu 22-Jul-21 11:24:50

I'm hopeless at pub quizes because I don't know celebrities, sport etc.
But I know random stuff about random things which means I often seem to know the odd questions that others don't which can be helpful.

Nonmaquillee Thu 22-Jul-21 11:25:19

I understand that it’s developed from a range of sources, it’s not always definable/tangible. You don’t need to be wealthy or privately educated.
It definitely allows the child to become confident. First and foremost I believe parents need to engage with their children, encourage them to develop interests and read widely, take them to new places, encourage them to look around and talk about what they see. Play games, try new foods, keep an open mind.

rainbowfairylights Thu 22-Jul-21 11:26:14

peaceanddove

Big difference between intelligence and general knowledge. DH has a high IQ, incredibly gifted at maths, went to a very good university - but his general knowledge isn't great, because he's only interested in scientific stuff.

I also have a high IQ and went to university, but have also read voraciously since a little girl (and retain most of what I read). So, I beat DH hands down at Trivial Pursuit and was a member of a very successful pub quiz team for years.

Interesting! My DP wins in both the intelligence and general knowledge category. She has an amazing thirst for learning anything about science, fitness, nature, dinosaurs grin, history... has a brilliant IQ, and also wins at Trivial Pursuit! She's amazing. Very, very clever. I wonder if it's split into nature/nurture, so some of these things are natural and some are due to the environment she was raised in.

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DGFB Thu 22-Jul-21 11:27:38

I grew up more like you and it’s not made any difference as far as I can tell. I’m just as clever and have the sort of well-rounded knowledge/interests that my private school friends do. But I’m quite a self starter!

Hoppinggreen Thu 22-Jul-21 11:27:46

It’s not just intelligence, it’s about life experiences growing up.
Mixing with lots of different people, visiting places, reading, watching TV but not just Soaps and Love Island (nothing wrong with them but the odd Documentary is helpful too)

Palavah Thu 22-Jul-21 11:28:05

Radio 4 (though it's not as good as it was)
Broadsheet newspaper(s)
Discussing ideas and information in a curious, positive way.
Not chastising someone for being stupid
Being open to changing your mind on the basis of new evidence.

Your daughter (and you!) may enjoy 'more or less' and 'the life scientific' on radio 4/bbc sounds app.

AngelicaElizaAndPeggy Thu 22-Jul-21 11:28:22

I'm going to probs go against the grain a little bit here but I don't think smaller class sizes at a private is school is what does it. I think it's these things:

Books in the house
Taking your kids' interests seriously
Talking with them about topical issues like they are grown ups and listening carefully to their views.

Having huge expectations of what they are expected to achieve at school in terms of effort and not necessarily attainment. Homework and reading always done on time.
Passing on of inherited cultural capital
Reading together at bed time for as many years as you can manage
Did I mention books in the house? If in doubt, I'll say it again - books in the house.

I'm a primary teacher and you can see instantly who the academically early bloomers are when they enter Foundation stage. By KS2, the grafters begin to bloom and succeed - those ones who do the above and are always encouraged to try every opportunity.

rainbowfairylights Thu 22-Jul-21 11:28:44

Thanks for the interesting responses everyone. This is quite eye-opening! As I mentioned up-thread I did read a lot but not because I was encouraged to and I never read non-fiction.

I guess the main reason why I'm asking is because I want our children to have a similar thirst for knowledge as DP, and as I'm the one who will be carrying (we're lesbians), if me not being as clever is down to genetics then I want to make sure I'm combatting that with nurturing knowledge and giving them the best opportunities possible. Sounds silly I know!

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Aroundtheworldin80moves Thu 22-Jul-21 11:29:08

I think the best thing for you can do is support your children in what they want to do and are good at, while giving them the opportunities to try new things.

Reduced to a basic level... time and/or money. Being able to afford the best schools, countless extra curricular, and nanny to drive them places etc will give a big boost compared to parents working long hours on minimum wages in a cramped flat.

rainbowfairylights Thu 22-Jul-21 11:29:41

DGFB

I grew up more like you and it’s not made any difference as far as I can tell. I’m just as clever and have the sort of well-rounded knowledge/interests that my private school friends do. But I’m quite a self starter!

I don't have well-rounded knowledge, but I'm also a self starter. It's actually quite a nice feeling knowing that you are where you are because you made it happen against the odds!

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idontlikealdi Thu 22-Jul-21 11:29:56

Reading reading reading and more reading. I read because I enjoyed it.

I also went to a single sex grammar school, that I was pushed hard to get into at my private prep.

thecatfromjapan Thu 22-Jul-21 11:31:24

I went to a lecture about education given by Alice Sullivan. She looked at lots and lots of data and lots of methodologies for interpreting that data.

The long and short of it was:

Don't apologise for reading fiction. Don't apologise for reading genre fiction. Just read. And keep reading. All through your life.

Just saying that because so many on here are feeling slightly abashed about their reading choices.

As for your question: I think you're really asking about cultural capital (as others have pointed out. Google 'Bourdieu' - or read him; he's very readable.

As we all know, 'intelligence' isn't a simple term, nor does it equate with worldly success. After all, girls outperform boys in exams, yet earn less as women.

So, have fun with your child. It's so brilliant to share the world with someone for whom it's all pretty new. It's fabulous to experience the love and closeness of caring in such a joyful way.

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