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Multiple Intelligence


Intelligence is often considered how well you score on tests or what your grades are in school. In the 1900's, French psychologist Alfred Binet tried to come up with some kind of measure that would predict the success or failure of children in the primary grades of schools. The result was the forerunner of the standard IQ test we use today. This gave us a dimension of mental ability by which we could compare everyone. In the 1980's, Harvard University psychologist, Howard Gardner had a pluralistic view of the mind, and recognized the many discrete facets of cognition. Gardner defines intelligences as the ability to solve problems or to fashion products that are valued in one or more cultural settings. (Gardner) He acknowledged that people have different cognitive strengths as well as different cognitive styles. Gardner bases his view in part on findings from sciences that were nonexistent in Binet's time. The first is cognitive. Out of this came Gardner's "theory of multiple intelligences." (Gardner)

Instead of looking for a correlation between tests, we should look instead to how people develop skills that are pertinent in their culture. When a child learns to play the piano, he is learning several skills. Will the training he received learning the piano skills enhance his mathematics skills, or vise versa? The standard IQ test measures how intelligent a person is based, traditionally, on math and English. All other areas that a person may excel at or have natural ability in are not taken into consideration. Each individual is unique. We all have different physical features - we are not all blue eyed, brown-haired, five-foot tall men. We each have different personalities - some people are jokesters and comedians while others are quiet, reserved and serious. We all have our own set of talents, gifts, and abilities. Not everyone will excel in math and language. Why should we compare how smart children are or how successful they will be based on a test that measures only two aspects of who that little child is?

Gardner has identified eight intelligences. These areas in a culture are valued as having the ability to solve a problem or create a product in a particular way. The intelligences are like talents and gifts in that there are many combinations possible. Intelligences can also be strengthened. How readily the improvement occurs depends upon the biology of the persons' brain and the teacher that the culture gave the person. Gardners' eight intelligences are:

Linguistic - the ability to use language to describe events, to build trust and rapport, to develop logical arguments and use rhetoric, or to be expressive and metaphoric. Possible vocations that use linguistic intelligence include journalism, administrator, contractor, salesperson, clergy, counselors, lawyers, professor, philosopher, playwright, poet, advertising copywriter and novelist.

Logical-Mathematical - the ability to use numbers to compute and describe, to use mathematical concepts to make conjectures, to apply mathematics in personal daily life, to apply mathematics to data and construct arguments, to be sensitive to the patterns, symmetry, logic, and aesthetics of mathematics, and to solve problems in design and modeling. Possible vocations that use the logical-mathematics intelligence include accountant, bookkeeper, statistician, trades person, homemaker, computer programmer, scientist, composer, engineer, inventor, or designer.

Musical - the ability to understand and develop musical technique, to respond emotionally to music and to work together to use music to meet the needs of others, to interpret musical forms and ideas, and to create imaginative and expressive performances and compositions. Possible vocations that use the musical intelligence include technician, music teacher, instrument maker, choral, band, and orchestral performer or conductor, music critic, aficionado, music collector, composer, conductor, and individual or small group performer.

Spatial - the ability to perceive and represent the visual-spatial world accurately, to arrange color, line, shape, form and space to meet the needs of others, to interpret and graphically represent visual or spatial ideas, to transform visual or spatial ideas into imaginative and expressive creations. Possible vocations that use spatial intelligence include illustrator, artist, guide, photographer, interior decorator, painter, clothing designer, weaver, builder, architect, art critic, inventor, or cinematographer.
Bodily-Kinesthetic - the ability to use the body and tools to take effective action or to construct or repair, to build rapport to console and persuade, and to support others, to plan strategically or to critique the actions of the body, to appreciate the aesthetics of the body and to use those values to create new forms of expression. Possible vocations that use the bodily-kinesthetic intelligence include mechanic, trainer, contractor, craftsperson, tool and dye maker, coach, counselor, salesperson, sports analyst, professional athlete, dance critic, sculptor, choreographer, actor, dancer or puppeteer.

Interpersonal - the ability to organize people and to communicate clearly what needs to be done, to use empathy to help others and to solve problems, to discriminate and interpret among different kinds of interpersonal clues, and to influence and inspire others to work toward a common goal. Possible vocations that use the interpersonal intelligence include administrator, manager, politician, social worker, doctor, nurse, therapist, teacher, sociologist, psychologist, psychotherapist, consultant, charismatic leader, politician, and evangelist.

Intrapersonal - the ability to assess one's own strengths, weaknesses, talents, and interests and use them to set goals, to understand oneself to be of service to others, to form and develop concepts and theories based on an examination of oneself, and to reflect on one's inner moods, intuitions, and temperament and to use them to create or express a personal view. Possible vocations that use the intrapersonal intelligence include planner, small business owner, psychologist, artist, religious leader, and writer.

Naturalist* - the ability to recognize and classify plants, minerals, and animals, including rocks and grass and all variety of flora and fauna, and to recognize cultural artifacts like cars and sneakers. Possible vocations that use the naturalist intelligence include conservation, biologist, teacher, lobbyist, and park service. *Because this is a recent addition to the Intelligences, we have not yet included it in the Multiple Intelligence Tests our site features.

Multiple intelligence is a natural way to structure learning. All the aspects of the person are taught to, meaning can be extracted, and applications can be made to life. The children in our classrooms are multifaceted and have many abilities. We as teachers need to give the children the skills and the opportunity to use their abilities and enhance them throughout their life.