Thursday, January 3, 2013

Multiple Intelligences

When I was teaching in public school, it became very clear to me that although some of my students really struggled with their bookwork, they absolutely excelled in areas that others found elusive.  Their parents would worry that their child just was not smart because of sub par reading test scores, while I knew that their child could play an instrument like a child prodigy and solve disputes between classmates with more diplomacy than the adult playground monitors.  I would think to myself, if only their parents could be assured that even though their child might never excel in  a formal school setting, the skills and intelligences that their child DID have would make them very capable of achieving a HIGH degree of success in a "real life setting".  Social intelligence and musical intelligence could combine to make their student the most highly acclaimed musical teacher on the West Coast.  And no one would ever ask what their reading level was after they left school.  They could hire 3 assistants to edit and write their marketing literature.  School intelligences aren't everything in life, they just feel like everything when you are in school.  How many of your adult friends have ever asked you what level of math you completed in high school?

So, in honor of my many super talented students, I wanted to write a quick synopsis of multiple intelligences for those of you who are unfamiliar with them.  I have included a link to a simplified test to help you figure out where your strengths may lay. 

In 1983, Howard Gardner, a Harvard psychologist, published a book outlining eight different kinds of intelligences, challenging the long held belief on IQ as being a discreet type of intelligence.  He suggested that there are different ways to be "smart".

Kinesthetic---Body/Physical Intelligence
Logical---Numbers and Problem Solving Intelligence
Interpersonal---Intelligent about people
Intrapersonal---Intelligent about yourself
Visual/Spacial---Smart with what you see, pictures, charts
Musical---Musically Intelligent
Naturalistic---Nature Smart
Linguistic---Intelligence with words

Although Gardener's work lacked empirical evidence and was dismissed by people who said that what he viewed as "intelligences" where actually just individual strengths, personality traits, skills, etc., many teachers who have worked directly with scores of students still swear by the insight in his work.

What type of intelligences do you excel in?  What about your spouse and children?  Do you think Gardener was on to something?

Take the test for yourself:

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