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Good Question: Are Today’s Kids Smarter Than We Were?

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(credit: CBS) Heather Brown
Heather Brown loves to put her innate curiosity to work to answer yo...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Most kindergarten teachers will tell you children are coming into their classes already knowing their ABC’s and writing their names. Some can even read.

So are today’s kids smarter than we were?

Shelly Bima has a 3-year-old and an 8-year-old. She thinks her kids are smarter than she was growing up.

“There’s more to learn, there’s more avenues, they have more activities and programs,” she said.

But another dad, who has a 3-year-old, 8-year-old and an 11-year-old, disagreed.

“They’re more tech-savvy, but smarter? I think we’re about the same intelligence-wise,” he said.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, SAT scores in English have dropped slightly since the late 1980s, but have jumped in math. Studies have shown people have gained 3 to 5 IQ points every 10 years. The phenomenon has been termed “the Flynn effect.”

According to Humphrey School of Public Affairs Senior Fellow Art Rolnick, how quickly children learn can depend on income and a parent’s education. He cites studies that show kids with access to quality early education programs are far more likely to succeed in life.

Longtime Valentine Hills Elementary kindergarten teacher Marilyn Persuitti says she’s seen big change in her students over the years.

“What we used to teach in first grade we’re now teaching in kindergarten,” she said.

She believes the changes are due to more access to preschool as well as educational television and apps.

“There’s just more out there for the kids to see and learn from,” she said.

Dr. Roberta Golinkoff isn’t so sure children are smarter these days.

“What kind of smart?” she asks.

She’s a professor at the University of Delaware and wrote a book called “Einstein Never Used Flashcards.”

“Just because we’re pushing them more doesn’t mean they’re more capable,” she said.

She worries kids are memorizing more, but are not necessarily able to fully use that knowledge.

“They need to play to figure out who they are, what they’re interested in. We need to turn off the media so they can be bored and discover themselves,” she said.

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