I know that I am intelligent, because I know that I know nothing.
Character is higher than intellect. A great soul will be strong to live as well as think.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
According to The Theory of Multiple Intelligence by Howard Gardner, we each have at least seven distinctly different kinds of intelligence. Each of these operates from a different part of the brain and is relatively independent of the others, with its own timetable for development and growth. The first two types of intelligence have typically been valued in schools; the next three are usually associated with the arts; and the final two are what Gardner calls “personal intelligence.”
This theory has emerged from recent cognitive research and “documents the extent to which students possess different kinds of minds and therefore learn, remember, perform, and understand in different ways,” according to Gardner (1991). According to this theory, “we are all able to know the world through language, logical-mathematical analysis, spatial representation, musical thinking, the use of the body to solve problems or to make things, an understanding of other individuals, and an understanding of ourselves. Where individuals differ is in the strength of these intelligences – the so-called profile of intelligences -and in the ways in which such intelligences are invoked and combined to carry out different tasks, solve diverse problems, and progress in various domains.”
Gardner says that these differences “challenge an educational system that assumes that everyone can learn the same materials in the same way and that a uniform, universal measure suffices to test student learning. Indeed, as currently constituted, our educational system is heavily biased toward linguistic modes of instruction and assessment and, to a somewhat lesser degree, toward logical-quantitative modes as well.” Gardner argues that “a contrasting set of assumptions is more likely to be educationally effective. Students learn in ways that are identifiably distinctive. The broad spectrum of students – and perhaps the society as a whole – would be better served if disciplines could be presented in a numbers of ways and learning could be assessed through a variety of means.” The learning styles are as follows:
Visual-Spatial – think in terms of physical space, as do architects and sailors. Very aware of their environments. They like to draw, do jigsaw puzzles, read maps, daydream. They can be taught through drawings, verbal and physical imagery. Tools include models, graphics, charts, photographs, drawings, 3-D modeling, video, videoconferencing, television, multimedia, texts with pictures/charts/graphs.
Bodily-kinesthetic – use the body effectively, like a dancer or a surgeon. Keen sense of body awareness. They like movement, making things, touching. They communicate well through body language and be taught through physical activity, hands-on learning, acting out, role playing. Tools include equipment and real objects.
Musical – show sensitivity to rhythm and sound. They love music, but they are also sensitive to sounds in their environments. They may study better with music in the background. They can be taught by turning lessons into lyrics, speaking rhythmically, tapping out time. Tools include musical instruments, music, radio, stereo, CD-ROM, multimedia.
Interpersonal – understanding, interacting with others. These students learn through interaction. They have many friends, empathy for others, street smarts. They can be taught through group activities, seminars, dialogues. Tools include the telephone, audio conferencing, time and attention from the instructor, video conferencing, writing, computer conferencing, E-mail.
Intrapersonal – understanding one’s own interests, goals. These learners tend to shy away from others. They’re in tune with their inner feelings; they have wisdom, intuition and motivation, as well as a strong will, confidence and opinions. They can be taught through independent study and introspection. Tools include books, creative materials, diaries, privacy and time. They are the most independent of the learners.
Linguistic – using words effectively. These learners have highly developed auditory skills and often think in words. They like reading, playing word games, making up poetry or stories. They can be taught by encouraging them to say and see words, read books together. Tools include computers, games, multimedia, books, tape recorders, and lecture.
Logical -Mathematical – reasoning, calculating. Think conceptually, abstractly and are able to see and explore patterns and relationships. They like to experiment, solve puzzles, ask cosmic questions. They can be taught through logic games, investigations, mysteries. They need to learn and form concepts before they can deal with details.
At first, it may seem impossible to teach to all learning styles. However, as we move into using a mix of media or multimedia, it becomes easier. As we understand learning styles, it becomes apparent why multimedia appeals to learners and why a mix of media is more effective. It satisfies the many types of learning preferences that one person may embody or that a class embodies. A review of the literature shows that a variety of decisions must be made when choosing media that is appropriate to learning style.
Every individual has certain intelligences that are more innately developed than others. The areas in which a person excels may not be those valued by society or which succeed in the educational system, but doesn’t mean that person isn’t intelligent. Within each kind of intelligence are clues to the unique gifts a person has to contribute to the world. This innate intelligence can be key to helping someone find their purpose and passion in life. Ironically, an individual is often the last to recognize and acknowledge their special talents and abilities as we tend to be somewhat blind to the things we do best because they’re normal to us. It’s just the way things are and have always been.
Give some thought as to what you think your natural intelligence and unique talents are. You may want to ask a friend this question, and their observations may surprise you. Think back to activities you liked and gravitated towards as a child. These are clues to your true gifts before you were influenced by the “shoulds” of society. What things do you do well or enjoy now?
Try to identify core beliefs you have, conscious or unconscious, around your intelligence. These beliefs may be strongly influenced by the experiences and influences of your past and your opinion of yourself. Whatever they may be, you can consciously choose to change your beliefs at this point in your life and begin to follow your own wisdom and intelligence. Discover and encourage your unique inner daimon.