Friday, January 18, 2013

The I.Q. Test

Dad or "Cigo" as he's called by his friends, is so smart that other inmates use him as a reference. "Let's go to Cigo University," they say when a dispute arises. Dad says besides his general wealth of knowledge, he carries around three books for such occasions: 

Basically, if this were a sitcom, Dad would be the Professor on Gilligan's Island.*

When Dad was first incarcerated, he was put through a series of tests to determine his physical and mental health and intelligence. This helps the prison determine where an inmate should be permanently housed. Results were as I expected: He was physically fit, deaf and had an I.Q. of 157. Genius level.

Yet when I asked him about taking classes, he said he didn't qualify. He had failed the written English exam.

See, Dad writes in American Sign Language (ASL) which, is actually not a written language. ASL itself was based on French and, therefore, has a different sentence structure than English. If you were to read Dad's letters, you might think Dad is bordering on illiterate. Not so. He's simply trying to put his native, non-written language based on a foreign syntax into printed English. Pretty difficult, as you can imagine.

Learning that Dad had failed his written English test was no surprise. It made me think of an episode of Good Times, one of my favorite sitcoms as a kid. Set in the projects of inner-city Chicago, the show follows the Evans family's struggle to survive.

In one episode called "The IQ Test" the parents of their exceptionally bright son named Michael take issue with standardized testing.** While their argument has its flaws, the episode and its basic lessons stuck with me.

When Dad mentioned failing the written test I thought, "Couldn't they test him another way? Take his IQ into consideration? This is just like what happened with Michael on Good Times!"

Today, years later, Dad's parole has been denied. He has two years to work on himself to improve his odds for release, so I suggested he take classes. Maybe learn how to use a computer. He reminded me that he'd failed his tests 10 years ago and is unqualified.

"Why not take the test again?" I asked.

Dad's mischievous grin appeared and he signed, "Nah, I'll wait till I'm free and go to Kambri University."

He did teach me how to use tools, drive a stick-shift and roll a joint. I guess I can manage teaching him how to use the Internet, copy/paste, and clear his browser history of porn.

*If they still don't know the answer, they write to me. So, what does that make me? The Library of CONgress?

**The entire Good Times "The I.Q. Test" episode can be watched on YouTube, but here's the final part which includes Michael's parents confronting the nerdy test maker with their argument.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Haven't commented on your blog in eons. But, yours is one of a few that I've faithfully read in my Google reader over the years. I get a kick out of reading the things your dad said. The cards and letters. Your dad has a great sense of humor. And, I know how crazy life can be in the deaf world. I am deaf. Grew up with a deaf family who thought I was hearing (I had moderate hearing loss). So, I guess one could say I can relate more to CODAs/KODAa than anyone else. My hearing has gone down tremendously over the years, to a point where I am now legally deaf. While there were some moments in your family life that were scary, there were many funny crazy moments too which I could relate to. Such as the asinine things a deaf person would say when society doesn't normally do these things. I have not bought your book, but, it's on my to do list.

Regarding this post about your dad's I.Q. ahh, I dare say that is the case with many deafies. Many have high I.Q. but do not master English well. They have the potential, though! I know one guy who is like that, he hated TDD's, he'd have his wife type for him. He hated to write. Then one day after being divorced for a while and being on his own. He decided to use the computer more, forced himself to interact with other hearing folks on IM, Chat rooms, etc. After using the computer for three years, imagine my shock when I saw how he wrote. He had gotten so much better with his English, it was mind boggling!! If this guy can do it, so can your dad. It's never too late to go back to school. I wonder tho, why can't Prison offer English remedial classes? They should. I might not comment here again for eons...but, know that you have another faithful reader. Take care and keep the humor alive! ;)