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Lewis Terman

A black and whte photo of Lewis Terman. He has short black hair and is wearing round glasses and a suit.

Lewis Terman (1877 - 1956) was a professor of education at Stanford University and a key figure in the development of educational psychology. During his tenure, he explored theories of intelligence and the gifted child: eugenically fit children born with above average intelligence. Terman, along with his colleague Ellwood Cubberley, sought to locate eugenically gifted children to allocate the most resources to.


To do so, Terman developed a method to measure his conception of intelligence: the Stanford-Binet IQ test, editions of which are still in practice today. Terman promoted the usage of this test to measure the ability of children and is a major factor in why the IQ test holds as much weight as it does today. 


With his IQ test, Terman sought to grant gifted children the necessary resources to reach their fullest eugenic potential. However, doing so also meant removing resources from those deemed “feeble-minded" or unintelligent.

Terman believed that white children were inherently more intelligent than children of color, writing in his 1916 The Measurement of Intelligence that mental deficiency was “very, very common among Spanish-Indian and Mexican families of the Southwest and also among negroes,” with the explanation that this deficiency was “racial, or at least inherent in the family stocks from which they come.” 

Terman Fountain is not named after Lewis Terman; rather, it is named after his son, Frederick Terman, a professor of engineering at Stanford University. 

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