CH (264): Intelligence Is Not the Same as Value

Sekali lagi, negeri ini diributkan dengan masalah kenaikan gaji. Setelah beberapa tempo yang lalu ada rencana menaikan gaji PNS dan para guru, ataupun buruh yang meminta kenaikan upah (untuk menyesuaikan dengan kebutuhan hidup), dan yang baru-baru lagi sibuk diperbincangkan adalah kenaikan gaji sebesar 3% pegawai Bank Indonesia, dengan alasan kinerja yang baik.

Kalau ingat perdebatan seputar kenaikan gaji dan alasan-alasan dibalik itu, saya jadi teringat satu tulisan menarik David Z. Hambrick, associate professor bidang psikologi di Universitas Negeri Michigan, berjudul, “Intelligence Is Not the Same as Value”, dalam kolom Room For Debate-nya New York Times, awal tahun ini (2012). Berikut tulisannya.

People who do well on a test of one mental ability — let’s say a test of verbal ability — will tend to do well on tests of others — math ability, spatial ability, and so on. This finding, which has been replicated thousands of times, implies that there is a general factor of human intelligence. Psychologists call this factor “g.” We still don’t know what underlies g. Ian Deary, a researcher at the University of Edinburgh, has argued that the speed of perceptual processes is one piece of the puzzle, while Randall Engle, of the Georgia Institute of Technology, has established that intelligence is strongly linked to working memory capacity, which he thinks of as the ability to hold information in the focus of attention. Others suggest that when we try to boil down the human intellect to a single factor, we lose view of its complexity.

What we do know is that measures of general intelligence are practically useful. Frank Schmidt, of the University of Iowa, and the late John Hunter, of Michigan State University, documented that g is the single best predictor of job performance across a wide range of occupations — better than personality, interest, motivation and even job experience. People who do well on tests of intelligence tend to make the best mechanics, managers, clerks, salespeople, pilots, detectives and scientists. They also tend to make the best teachers. It makes perfectly good sense, as Andrew Biggs and Jason Richwine argue, to use intelligence as a predictor of teacher performance. We should want smart people to be our teachers.

But what, really, does this have to do with how much we should pay teachers? As a society, we have decided that it’s fine to pay a heart surgeon more than an electrician. We didn’t need to run a regression analysis to decide this — it’s important to keep the lights on, but only if there’s someone to keep them on for — and we don’t need to run a regression analysis to decide that we don’t pay teachers enough. A little arithmetic will do. In Michigan, where I live, the average starting salary for a teacher is about $35,000 for nine months. That works out to about $20 an hour. A bartender can make double that. Which job do you think is more important?

Saya setuju bahwa intelligence bisa menjadi prediksi bagi peforma kerja, namun apakah ada korelasi positif antara tinginya intelligence dan tingginya gaji seseorang? Tidak. Karena menurut Hambrick, seorang bartender di Michigan bergaji lebih tinggi ketimbang seorang guru, lalu apakah dengan demikian kita dapat mengatakan bahwa bartender itu lebih pintar dari seorang guru? Intelligence Is Not the Same as Value. (sfm).

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