The new theory on intelligence suggests that there is more than one way to be smart. I often advise parents of this, as they look at the intelligence test, and become discouraged because their child does not score as high as they think they should. By informing parents of the various ways a child can be smart, they begin to look at their child as an individual, apart from his intelligence score. We too often get wrapped up in numbers and grades. We need to be sure that we realize that ideas about intelligence have changed. We live in a more diverse society where different talents are needed. Therefore, researchers have realized that intelligence is more diverse than they once thought. Gone are the days when IQ was thought of as intelligence in reading, writing, and arithmetic.
Dr. Howard Gardner, a professor of education at Harvard University, suggested that the old school idea of intelligence was too limiting. He proposed breaking intelligence down into various parts called multiple intelligences. This theory took into account the broad range of potential of children and adults. Dr. Gardner felt it was unfair to limit a child. For example, just because a child isn’t an excellent reader, doesn’t mean he isn’t smart. It is a matter of finding out where his gifts and intelligence lies. This child might be better suited for activities where he is actively involved with his hands. He might not be able to read the directions for taking a car engine apart, but can do so on his own in record time. This child or adult would be said to have kinesthetic intelligence, or the ability to use his hands.
A web graphic organizer even helps to break down the multiple intelligences for simpler understanding. There are seven subcategories of multiple intelligence. They are verbal, mathematical, visual, musical,kinesthetic, naturalist, interpersonal, interpersonal, and existential. Verbal includes language skills, reading, and writing. Mathematical include math skills, and logic reasoning. Visual intelligence refers to the ability to see images, remember maps, and mentally rotate figures. This last skill is often seen on standard intelligence tests. Musical is pretty self explanatory . Kinesthetic is the ability to use the body to think or to produce something.
This would be a child who needs to move constantly when learning. A child who is a naturalist, is in tune with nature, has empathy for animals, and has a keen sense of nature in general. I have a friend who had a brain tumor at the age of seven. She sometimes has difficulty reading or expressing her thoughts clearly, but she can tell you which growing zone you are in and if your dirt is acidic or alkaline. She certainly demonstrates naturalistic abilities. A counselor would have good interpersonal skills. And a person who is in tune with who they are would be said to have high intrapersonal intelligence. If you have ever known a person who is aware of what is happening in the world and always asks philosophical or religious questions, they are probably gifted in the area of existential intelligence.
You can even test your multiple intelligence factor on a web site. By answering a series of questions, the test can determine where in the seven subcategories you are the strongest. Knowing this information can help to tailor education, assist a child with future educational goals, and even help adults who aren’t sure of where their talents lie.
Schools are even beginning to take into account multiple intelligences. A teacher in my inclusion class this school year gave her students a multiple intelligence quiz so we would know where our students talents were. That way, we can tailor our lesson plans to our students learning styles and intelligence strengths.
Just remember, because you or your child do not score well on IQ tests , standardized tests, or report cards, it doesn’t mean that intelligence is lacking and you are not smart . It probably means that a little investigation is necessary to find which of the seven sub categories of multiple intelligence you are gifted in. With a little extra work and investigation, we all can find where our strengths lie. We are not limited by a set of numbers, but only by our unwillingness to investigate and use our own unique talents.