I have always wanted to tell this story in my blog but never had the chance until the topic of elitism got so hot in recent days thanks to Ms Wee. MENSA Singapore will never admit that this story is true but it paints a positive picture about them so they shouldn't complain.
Many years ago when I was still in secondary school, I received a call from my classmate John Lim (not his real name) during the school holidays. I was so bored I would have gone along with any plan John had to spice up the holidays. We were students from an average (many would say below average, other would say below average, and a few people called it gangster school) secondary school. That time they did not publish PSLE results but my feel is we were probably in the lower 40 percentile.
John told me he wanted to take the MENSA test and wanted me to accompany him....and to make it worth my while he would pay the fees for me. John's logic was this ...if we pass the test, we would be smarter than the education system make us out to be and if we failed, we would be where we were (mentally) before we took the test...so we actually have nothing to lose. To prepare for the test, we bought a few IQ books from a second hand bookshop at Bras Basah Complex.
We took the test and surprisingly both of us passed. Yes, we both have IQs in top 2% of the population. If it means anything to you, the writer (who sometimes has a problem with spelling) of the blog you're reading right now has an IQ higher than Albert Einstein! We were both elated and signed up for MENSA membership immediately. ...we felt like geniuses. Yes, we will get together with all these highly intelligent people and celebrate our special gift of superior mental agility. We now belong to this elite club of superior people so we thought....... Things didn't turn out as expected.
You see MENSA is a social club that organises activities for people from all walks of life to get together. There are govt clerks, lawyers, teachers if anything the people you see that make up MENSA is no different from an snapshot of people you find at the Funan Center food court. Once you get into MENSA, people don't celebrate their superior intelligence but engage in various social activities which include cooking, badminton etc. Its a club for making friends not a club for the mental elite to get together and learn how to be arrogant towards others.
So what is all this talk about high IQs of MENSA members. In MY OPINION, it is all hogwash. You see when you start a club you need to recruit people and get them to be interested enough to sign up. So what about the IQ test to select the top 2%? That is just a lure. You see when they say top-2% it includes millions of malnourished people in 3rd world countries who can't read or write because they have not been to school. Average people who have gone to school in Singapore should be able to pass the test after some practice - they just have to work on it. If you still don't believe this, here is the ABSOLUTE IRREFUTABLE PROOF....
EVEN XIAXUE CAN PASS THE MENSA TEST!!!!!
THE MORAL OF THE STORY
My friend John did get his morale boosted by passing the MENSA test he went from an under achiever in a below average school to work hard and eventually get an MBA.
The worst thing an education system can do is label people as gifted or slow ('normal', non-gifted). Once people believe the failure is inborn it is a self fulfiling prophesy. Self confidence, discipline, and passion are usually more important ingredients for success.
The truth is there is no superiority in views of the people who believe themselves elite and everyone is worthy of expressing a good solid point. The idea of a free press is to allow all these viewpoints to surface.
MENSA starts by doing the right thing - making EVERYONE feel special for a start no matter how ordinary they are.
Class divisions of people are false, artificial and incorrect. Our society will function more efficiently if everyone is motivated by real opportunity and there shouldn't effort to direct excess resources and wealth to the power elite. Just as much as aid should be given to the need hassle free to preserve their dignity and give them a chance.
I leave you with this youtube video on how discrimination arises and how people can be divided by labelling: link. The video has 5 parts and here is the first: