Two major investigators into the scientific basis for intelligence, Keith Stanovich and Robert Sternberg, have both found their paths leading to an appreciation not just of Psychometic g but wisdom. What is intelligence of any sort (and they both spend much time describing its different forms) without the ability to apply it to life?
Perhaps this is why both are very hot to see wisdom taught as a subject in the school system. Sternberg, in his 2001 essay, Why Schools Should Teach for Wisdom, starts by explaining why teaching for intelligence isn't enough. Aside from his recasting of our concept of intelligence into three: pragmatism, creativity and data-crunching, only the last of which our educational system pays homage to, he points out that without wisdom, intelligence is futile. The article proposes a curriculum for teaching wisdom toward the following characteristics:
1. Demonstration of attempt to reach a common good.
2. Balancing of intrapersonal (self-directed), interpersonal (between people), and extrapersonal (socially directed) interests.
3. Taking into account both short- and long-term factors.
4. Justification for adaptation to, shaping of, and selection of environments.
5. Mindful use of values.
6. Overall quality (wisdom) of process of solution.
7. Overall quality (wisdom) of the solution itself.
There are other scales for wisdom that could be used (notably Jeffrey Webster's Self-Assessed Wisdom Scale) and Sternberg may have modified his since then, but this gives the flavour of the result he's looking for, which by its verbiage seems to emphasize the moral application of knowledge.
Stanovich, in his response to Sternberg, uses a tongue-in-cheek title, The Rationality of Educating for Wisdom, to suggest that all wisdom really is is rationality in robes. He brings back his pet profundity of thinking dispositions, a kind of taxonomy of biases people fall into when making decisions, which he feels cause irrationality and ought to be avoided.
The notion at the base of teaching for intelligence that underlies their displeasure is that knowledge is fixed and there are right and wrong answers for everything. If only we could raise everyone's IQ, harmony of thought and action would rule the cosmos. This view ignores subjectivity and many human foibles that conspire to undermine good decision making at any given moment.
Though Stanovich questions Sternberg's focus on morals as being normative and therefore subject to cultural bias, and after splitting many hairs, he ultimately supports the effort as worthwhile. He points out, though, quoting Baron, that "we teach Latin or calculus because students do not already
know how to speak Latin or find integrals. But, by any reasonable description of thinking, students already know how to think, and the problem is that they do not do it as effectively as they might,” and boils down his notion of teaching rationality sic wisdom into that.
Thinking more effectively is the goal behind many neuroscience based educational programs these days, among them the Thinking Skills Club. But I think wisdom is much more than that . Things like resiliance, reflection, mindfulness and having a sense of humour are not subsumed in the teaching of how to think more effectively, yet it is these things that make us wise and should be core curriculum for schools.