When it comes to educating, there is no exact standard. People think differently and the way they learn may also go a long way into helping them maximize their skills and development.
A one-size-fits-all approach to education invariably leaves some students behind. Many teachers have experienced being unable to reach a student unless they present the information in a completely different way or provide new options for expression.
Howard Gardner posited in 1983 that individuals possess eight different intelligences. This is known as the Multiple Intelligences Theory. They are:
1. Naturalist Intelligence (“Nature Smart”)
Designates the human ability to discriminate among living things, as well as, sensitivity to other features of the natural world. This ability is central in such roles as botanists or chefs.
2. Musical Intelligence (“Musical Smart”)
Musical intelligence is the capacity to discern pitch, rhythm, timber and tone. This intelligence enables us to recognize, create, reproduce and reflect on music, as demonstrated by composers, conductors, musicians, vocalists and sensitive listeners. Young adults with this kind of intelligence are usually singing or drumming to themselves. They are usually quite aware of sounds others may miss.
3. Logical-Mathematical Intelligence (“Number/Reasoning Smart”)
Logical-mathematical intelligence is the ability to calculate, quantify, consider propositions and hypotheses and carry out complete mathematical operations. Logical intelligence is usually well developed in mathematicians, scientists, and detectives. Young adults with lots of logical intelligence are interested in patterns, categories and relationships. They are drawn to arithmetic problems, strategy games and experiments.
4. Interpersonal Intelligence (“People Smart”)
Interpersonal intelligence is the ability to understand and interact effectively with others. It involves effective verbal and non-verbal communication, the ability to note distinctions among others, sensitivity to the moods and temperaments of others and the ability to entertain multiple perspectives. Teachers, social workers, actors, and politicians (well, some politicians) all exhibit interpersonal intelligence.
5. Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence (“Body Smart”)
Bodily kinesthetic intelligence is the capacity to manipulate objects and use a variety of physical skills. Athletes, dancers and surgeons show well-developed bodily kinesthetic intelligence.
6. Linguistic Intelligence (“Word Smart”)
Linguistic intelligence is the ability to think in words and to use language to express and appreciate complex meanings. Linguistic intelligence allows us to understand the order and meaning of words. Linguistic intelligence is evident in poets, novelists, journalists, and effective public speakers.
7. Intra-personal Intelligence (“Self Smart”)
Intra-personal intelligence is the capacity to understand oneself and one’s thoughts and feelings and to use such knowledge in planning one’s life. Intra-personal intelligence involves not only an appreciation of the self, but also of the human condition. It is evident in psychologist, spiritual leaders, and philosophers. These young adults may be shy. They are very aware of their own feelings and are self-motivated.
8. Spatial Intelligence (“Picture Smart”)
Spatial intelligence is the ability to think in three dimensions. Core capacities include mental imagery, spatial reasoning, image manipulation, graphic and artistic skills and an active imagination. Sailors, pilots, sculptors, and architects all exhibit spatial intelligence.
Understanding the differences
It is important to note that everyone possesses all eight intelligences, but at different degrees of aptitude. They all interact with each other and all learning experiences do not have to cater to an individual’s strongest area of intelligence. Secondly, just because a student happens to be quite strong in one area doesn’t mean that he/she may excel in all facets of that intelligence. For example, someone may have quite high linguistic intelligence and could make a great novelist, but may be a terrible public speaker.
This knowledge is useful for educators and parents to realize that there are different ways of presenting information. However, it is very important to not classify kids as specific learner types or as having an innate or fixed type of intelligence. To conclude, I will leave you with a passage by Sir Ken Robinson:
“We know three things about intelligence. One, it’s diverse. We think about the world in all the ways that we experience it. We think visually, we think in sound, we think kinesthetically. We think in abstract terms; we think in movement.
Secondly, intelligence is dynamic… The brain isn’t divided into compartments. In fact, creativity—which I define as the process of having original ideas that have value—more often than not comes about through the interaction of different disciplinary ways of seeing things.
And the third thing about intelligence is, it’s distinct…”