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Back to school with multiple intelligences
You struggle with English classes in school, but when it comes to playing an instrument, you rock. You write well, but maths is not your cup of tea. You do all right in maths, but when it comes to sports, you’re a runaway hit. By now you probably realise that your brain is like no one else’s brain. You don’t think and feel the exact same way as everyone around you thinks or feels. You should also be recognising that when it comes to learning, everyone has strengths and weaknesses.
Everyone learns differently, and it’s important to keep this in mind as you start school today. It’s amazing how many people still think that learning comes down to being able to do Math and English. Granted, those are important subjects, but intelligence can be measured in many different ways.
In 1983, Howard Gardner, a Harvard University professor, came up with something called multiple intelligences. He said IQ testing was not the only measure for intelligence and that it was not even a good measure of intelligence. Instead, he said intelligence should be measured in eight different ways.
It’s important to be aware of these intelligences so you can better understand how you learn. You’ll also begin to realise how special you really are. You can relax and be confident in your strengths and work on your weaknesses when it comes to learning. So what kind of brain do you have? Here is a summary of Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences.
1. Linguistic intelligence—If you’re good in language, reading writing and or speaking, you have linguistic intelligence, which is one of the main ways traditional education measures intelligence.
2. Logical—mathematical intelligence—If you are good in math and have good reasoning skills, you excel in this intelligence, also measured well in traditional education.
3. Spatial intelligence—If you’re good in visual imagery, film, pictures and you’re a visual learner, this is your intelligence. This is an intelligence that is becoming increasingly important in our visual age.
4. Bodily—Kinesthetic intelligence—If you excel in sports, you possess this intelligence. Don’t let anyone tell you that this is not a valid intelligence. Many people don’t have the intelligence you have. Good athletes earn a great deal of respect—not to mention money—from this intelligence.
5. Musical intelligence—If you’re good in music, you possess this intelligence. You usually do better in maths as well if you possess musical intelligence.
6. Interpersonal intelligence translates to “people smart”. You’re the life of the party, but more than that you have a way of organising and inspiring people. You’re a leader who brings people together and gets things done. The late Princess Diana could be categorised as a genius representing this intelligence. Unfortunately, she didn’t seem to recognise it and gain confidence from it.
7. Intrapersonal intelligence—You know about yourself, how you work, what you do well, how you learn and you are able to maximise every opportunity because of it. People possessing this intelligence can accomplish a great deal because they understand their brain. They make the most of their time.
8. Naturalist intelligence—You’re nature smart. You know how to interact with nature and get the most out of the environment while working in harmony with the environment.
Do some research on the eight intelligences and check out the Web site at the end of this column. Understanding your brain can open up a whole new world for you. Once you understand how your brain works and how you approach learning, life and learning become less frustrating and more challenging. If you get a chance, check out any of Howard Gardner’s books. Here is a good list to start exploring Gardner’s work.
1. Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences—This book outlines Gardner’s theory in a clear, understandable way that is a balance of intellectual thought and visual examples for everyone to see and learn about this fascinating theory of intelligence.
2. Five Minds for the Future—This book is not technically about multiple intelligence, but it does explore Gardner’s categories of five minds: disciplined, synthesising, creating, respectful and ethical. These are ways of thinking that Gardner has identified as crucial to success in this century.
3. Creating Minds: An Anatomy of Creativity Seen Through the Lives of Freud, Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham and Gandhi—In this book Gardner applies his theory to the lives of great people who are vivid examples of each intelligence. For those who like visual, concrete examples to learn, this is the book about multiple intelligences to read.
4. The Disciplined Mind: Beyond Facts and Standardised Tests, the K-12 Education that Every Child Deserves—Gardner takes this theory of multiple intelligences and turns it into a workable blueprint for educating children by creating a framework for learning that focuses on a child’s particular intelligence. This is a whole new way to visualise educating children.
Check out these Web sites for more information on multiple intelligences:
1. Multiple Intelligences by Dr Thomas Armstrong http://www.thomasarmstrong.com/multiple_intelligences.php
2. Howard Gardner, Multiple Intelligences and Education www.infed.org/thinkers/gardner.htm.
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