Useful tips for understanding your smartness and why ‘Multiple Intelligence’ is important for your learning.
Author of “Tips and Tidbits for Parents and Teachers – celebrating 50 years in the classroom and sharing what I have learned,’ Pat Kozyra, writes a follow up to her article “Get Yourself Truly Motivated’ for Keep Climbing the NQF.
The Seven Ways of Learning
Dr. Howard Gardiner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences is often referred to as the ‘Seven Ways of Learning’. Below is a brief summary of Gardiner’s intelligences.
In recent years, more intelligences have come to light, such as the naturalist intelligence and the existential intelligence. It’s interesting to note that Gardiner did interviews and brain research on hundreds of people, including stroke victims, prodigies, autistic individuals, and so-called “idiot savants”.
What are Gardiner’s Intelligences?
- Verbal /Linguistic Intelligence: These students learn best by verbalizing or hearing and seeing words. They have well developed verbal skills and sensitivity to the sounds, meanings and rhythms of words.
- Logical/ Mathematical Intelligence: These students explore patterns, categories and relationships by actively manipulating things in a controlled and orderly way. They have the ability to think conceptually and abstractly, and can discern logical or numerical patterns well.
- Visual/Spatial Intelligence: These students think in images and pictures. They spend free time drawing, designing things, or simply daydreaming. They can visualize accurately and abstractly (e.g. lying on the grass watching clouds?).
- Bodily/Kinaesthetic Intelligence: These students communicate very effectively through gestures and other forms of body language. They need opportunities to learn by moving, or acting things out. They can control their body movements and handle objects skillfully.
- Musical/Rhythmic Intelligence: These students respond to music, both instruments and environmental (waves on the sand), and to tonal patterns, rhythms, pitch, and timber.
- Interpersonal Intelligence: These students understand people. They organize, communicate and mediate. They can detect and respond appropriately to the moods, motivations and desires of others.
- Intrapersonal Intelligence: These students have a deep awareness of their own inner feelings, dreams, ideas and desires. They are in tune with values, beliefs and thinking processes.
- Naturalist Intelligence: These students have the ability to recognize and categorize plants, animals, and other objects in nature.
- Existential Intelligence: These students have the ability to discuss deep questions about human existence, such as the meaning of life, why we die, and how we get here.
Which ‘Intelligence’ Are You?
According to Dr. Gardiner, everyone has all the intelligences but in different proportions. You can strengthen, improve and increase an intelligence.
Each person has a different intellectual composition. He believes that these intelligences are located in different areas of the brain and can either work independently or together. This is quite a departure from the traditional views of intelligence which are that people are born with a fixed amount of intelligence and that intelligence does not change over a lifetime.
In other words, your I Q will always be the same. Note also, that some critics maintain that Bodily-Kinaesthetic and Musical Ability are only talents or aptitudes rather than real intelligences. They also feel it is impractical or utopian for teachers in over-crowded classrooms with a lack of multiple resources to adapt this theory and implement it.
Take a Test
My book “Tips and Tidbits For Parents and Teachers – celebrating 50 years in the classroom and sharing what I have learned ” provides a Multiple Intelligence Survey which anyone can take – parents, teachers and students. You can quickly complete and score it to determine their areas of strength and competency.
Another way to take this survey is by computer where websites offer many similar opportunities to learn what your strongest intelligence is. Students always enjoy when a teacher shares personal anecdotes with them, so teachers, by taking this survey themselves, can share their own strengths with their students. This can result in good teacher-pupil report and communication.
Proponents of the “Multiple Intelligence Theory” believe that knowing this information can foster learning and problem solving in students. Teachers can structure learning activities around an issue or a question and connect subjects. They can develop strategies that allow the students to show many ways of understanding and thus value their own uniqueness. Students can build on their strengths, demonstrate and share their strengths and even become a “specialist”.
Think what this can do for self-esteem! Experts say that when you “teach for understanding” your students accumulate positive educational experiences and the capability for creating solutions to problems in life. Some teachers say that students who perform poorly on traditional tests and exams can be “turned on” to learning when classroom experiences incorporate artistic, athletic and musical activities. Then the learning is based on students’ needs, interests, and talents. Students enjoy approaching understanding from different angles. One example cited is the following: The problem “What is sand?” has scientific, poetic, artistic, musical, and geographic points of entry for students.
Dr. Gardiner believes that when students begin to understand how they are intelligent they begin to manage their own learning and value their strengths.
They can be nurtured and strengthened, or even ignored and weakened, but he believes that each individual has all nine intelligences.
Note that Multiple Intelligences is not intended to label a student. “It is helpful for teachers to understand how students are intelligent, as well as how intelligent they are.” They can help create opportunities for the student and foster the abilities and strengths.
For all of the above reasons, I feel it is important for both teachers and students to have an appreciative awareness of “Multiple Intelligences” and how this awareness can work to their advantage in their education.