The Difference Between Being Smart, Educated, and Intelligent

Intelligence has always fascinated me. My mother used to call me “smart” as a child, but I soon realized that parents also refer to their children as intelligent. As I grew up, I learned that not all children are smart. We would have beautiful, intelligent people all over the world if that was true.

While some of us may be smart, others are not as smart as they think. Others are more intelligent than we think. This makes me wonder how we define smart. What makes someone smarter than the other? What is more important than “book-smarts”? Is it possible to be both smart and dumb? Are genes or the environment more important in determining intelligence?

There are also issues related to intelligence, education, and wisdom.

What does it really mean to be highly educated What is the difference between highly educated and highly intelligent? Is it necessary to be highly educated in order to be highly intelligent? Is it possible to be extremely intelligent even if you are not highly educated. Does IQ really have any meaning? What is it that makes someone wise? Wisdom is often associated with old age.

In my quest to find answers to these questions, I spent many hours researching. This was in addition to reading 6 books and hundreds of research documents. It pales in comparison with the years of study and research that pioneers in intelligence and education such as Howard Gardner, Richard Sternberg and Linda S. Gottfredson, Thomas Sowell and Alfie Kohn, whose work is cited here.

My goal was simple: To gather, synthesize and present data about what it means for someone to be intelligent, smart, educated, and intelligent, so that anyone can understand it and use it for their benefit.


This in mind, it was a great place to begin: the beginning of our existence as a fetus within the womb.

Evidence is mounting that iron-rich foods are crucial for building the brain of the prenatal baby. Research has shown a strong link between low iron levels in pregnancy and lower IQ. Iron-rich foods include kidney beans, pinto beans and spinach.

Children who had low iron status in utero (in their uterus) scored lower than those with higher prenatal iron levels. They also scored lower on all tests and had lower language ability, fine motor skills, and tractability. Proper prenatal care is essential for the development of cognitive skills.


Cognitive skills are fundamental mental abilities that allow us to think, learn, and study. These include the ability to process sounds and images, remember information from memory, associate different pieces of information and keep focus on specific tasks. You can identify and measure them individually. Students’ learning ease is directly related to their cognitive skill and efficiency.


It’s not smart to drink while pregnant. It’s actually quite stupid.

An Alcoholism Study: Clinical & Experimental Research found that even moderate drinking, especially in the second trimester, is associated with lower IQs among offspring at 10 year old. This was more so for African-American offspring than it was for Caucasian.

“IQ” is a measure that a child’s ability and willingness to learn. It is a measure of a child’s potential for success at school and everyday life. A small but significant number of children are diagnosed each year with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). However, many more children are exposed during pregnancy to alcohol and experience deficits in growth or cognitive function,” stated Jennifer A. Willford assistant professor of psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Paul D. Connor is the clinical director of Fetal Alcohol and Drug Unit and an assistant professor in department of psychiatry and behavioral science at the University of Washington. Here are his thoughts on the subject.

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