Mental skills may sometimes appear fixed, especially since IQ results have been used for years to classify and label people as having a specific level of intelligence. But the truth is that we do not have to accept poor mental skills because we can improve them. They are not fixed. A numerical IQ result is simply an average of the many mental skills that are tested by an intelligence test. This average reflects a person’s present level of mental functioning – not a fixed ability that is constant across a life span. Mental skills are learned skills and can, therefore, be practiced and improved.

For years, we have known that we can modify and improve mental skills. But most efforts at helping students with learning problems still ignore this knowledge. Instead, many people try to modify the student’s environment.