A new study claims that enduring what are known as “weed-out’ classes in STEM has less to do with innate ability than with social connections with classmates (“Surviving Weed-Out Process May Be a State of Mind,” The New York Times, Nov. 17). I don’t doubt that social connections are helpful in outcomes in these classes, but I submit that innate intelligence is more important.
STEM classes are notorious for their rigor – and rightly so. The material is hard by its very nature. Therefore, no matter how many friendly classmates there are, they are no substitute for IQ, which I continue to believe is largely innate. I’m not saying that environment doesn’t play an important role, but it is not enough to overcome intellectual deficits.
When I was an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, algebra was a requirement for graduation. I was in a class with math whizzes, who breezed through the material. I passed the class, but there was no way I could have competed with my classmates.
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