If you’re a psychologist, professor, and researcher at one of the world’s most prestigious universities then you’re likely very intelligent. Howard Gardner is all of that and happens to work at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education where he studies, of all things, intelligence. Over the years he’s done brain research and interviewed all sorts of people, from geniuses and prodigies to victims of stroke and those with autism.
His work eventually led him to develop the theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI Theory for short) which challenged traditional beliefs and definitions concerning what intelligence means.
Traditionally, intelligence is viewed as a fixed amount of cognitive capacity that people are born with. It consists of only logic and language abilities, and a person’s intelligence level can’t be changed over their lifetime. Gardner’s MI Theory stands in direct contrast. Instead, he posits that individuals have different amounts, abilities, and unique combinations that can be changed and improved upon throughout their lifetime. The most distinctive aspect of his theory is that instead of there being only 2 types of intelligence, there are nine. These 9 types directly relate to the various ways in which people interact with the word and environment around them. When Garder’s theory is applied to the classroom level a child’s strongest intelligence is first figured out. Then a teacher can more effectively reach and teach different that child in accordance with their intelligence. The nine intelligences are as follows:
1) Verbal/Linguistic- people who display good reading, writing, speaking, listening, memorization, and other language related skills. Students with these abilities are successful in most classroom settings because traditional teaching methods cater to these strengths.
2) Mathematical/Logical- this type of intelligence has to do with numbers, logic, reasoning, abstract and critical thinking. Those who more easily pick up on the underlying causes and principles of patterns and sequences also do well in traditional teaching settings.
3) Visual/Spatial- people who learn visually and spatially better understand maps, tables, charts, graphs, illustrations, and puzzles. They are often good at art and learn better by seeing things which helps them to understand and grasp concepts.
4) Musical/Rhythmic- people who are sensitive to different aspects of sound tend to learn well through music. They have an ear for tone, rhythm, meter, melody, pitch, and often excel at musical endeavors like singing, composing music and playing instruments. Traditional education doesn’t suit them well.
5) Bodily/Kinesthetic- this area relates to those who learn best through hands on activities like games, building stuff, and moving around. Jobs that require more physical activity are best suited for people with bodily-kinesthetic intelligence and athletes, soldiers, builders, surgeons often display it. Kids who learn this way are often seen as hyper and overactive, they don’t fit well traditional classroom settings.
6) Intrapersonal- people who are self-reflective and inwardly focused on their ideas, values, and feelings are this type of intelligent. From the outside they appear reserved, yet they are very intuitive and have a deep understanding of their own self worth. They learn best by taking information and examining how it relates to themselves.
7) Interpersonal- people who are talkative, outgoing, social, and empathetic learn best in groups or with partners. They are better able to sense others feelings, moods, and motivations and can thus connect more easily and better with people. They often excel at discussions and enjoy long conversations. People with high interpersonal intelligence make good managers, politicians, teachers, and salespeople.
8) Naturalist- this type of intelligence has to do with the natural world and those who see, pick up on, and understand various types of flora and fauna. People who love animals, gardening, and exploring nature, and who can relate information to their natural surroundings, have natural intelligence.
9) Existentialist- this type is related to philosophy. People who are deep thinkers and who question everything about existence are existentially intelligent. They pose questions such as “why are we here” and “what is our purpose” and are related to the possibility of additional types of intelligences that are spiritual or religious oriented.
Credits: Awakening People.