Traditional IQ tests ask (and attempt to answer) the question, "How smart am I?"
Multiple Intelligence theory, on the other hand, explores, "How am I smart?"
The theory of multiple intelligences was developed in 1983 by Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University. His theory suggests that the traditional notion of intelligence, based on I.Q. testing, is limited. Instead of summarizing a person's intelligence in one numerical score, Dr. Gardner proposes identifying what kind of intelligences each individual possesses. He originally proposed seven different types of intelligence; linguistic, logical/mathematical, visual/spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, music, interpersonal and intrapersonal. That number has now grown to eight with the addition of natural intelligence, with other potential add-ons under consideration.
Gardner argues that multiple intelligences rarely operate independently; they complement each other as a person develops skills or solves problems. For example, a dancer can excel only if he/she has strong musical intelligence to feel the rhythm, interpersonal intelligence to understand how he/she can inspire the audience, and bodily-kinesthetic intelligence to provide him/her with the agility and coordination to complete the movements successfully.
Gardner believes that there is both a biological and cultural basis for the multiple intelligences. Neurobiological research indicates that learning is an outcome of modifications of the synaptic connections between cells. Interestingly, different kinds of learning result in synaptic connections in different areas of the brain. On the other hand, brain injury in one specific spot in the brain can cause the loss of an ability, while injury in another spot results in a different impairment. While particular intelligences might be highly evolved in people of one culture, those same intelligences might not be as developed in individuals of another. This means, essentially, that we can develop and improve our "intelligences" in different areas through training and practice.
So what does this all mean for you? First, realize that your intelligence types are not fixed at birth. In fact, it's just the opposite - they are richly developmental. Granted, you may be limited by a certain genetic predisposition or physical limitation to reach a certain level of efficacy (not everyone, for example, can master a sport or a musical instrument to the same degree of success), but everyone can increase their intelligence in every category by learning and practicing the skills involved.
Most of us are not total "geniuses" in one clear-cut area. We are blessed with a mixture of several abilities from different intelligence types. To a large degree it is this mixture that determines our uniqueness. Learn to use your various intelligences in combination with each other and you'll be well on your way to success.
An individual with bodily-kinesthetic intelligence possesses exceptional coordination and motor skills, and/or tends to learn best through "hands on" type of activities. Body-kinesthetic intelligence is awakened through physical movement or tactile manipulation as in the area of sports, dance, and physical exercise or sculpting and carpentry. People with this type of intelligence express themselves through and with their body, whether it's in the form of interpretive dance, drama, or building things. As children, people with this intelligence type probably had very good motor-coordination and excelled at sports and/or crafts like carpentry or pottery. They may have also been accused of being fidgety or unable to sit still for long! Athletes, dancers, actors, and craftsman are examples of people with high bodily-kinesthetic intelligence.
Individuals with logical-mathematical intelligence tend to be good with numbers and possess excellent reasoning skills. They can easily recognize and solve problems using logical patterns to categorize, infer, make generalizations, and test hypotheses. This intelligence is most often associated with scientific and mathematical thinking. People with this intelligence type enjoy contemplating abstract and logical ideas. They tend to find it easy to work out numerical problems in their head and have a natural talent for thinking sequentially. Logical-Mathematical individuals learn best by approaching each problem as a puzzle to be solved. Scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and programmers exhibit high levels of logical/mathematical intelligence.
Individuals with linguistic intelligence have a highly developed capacity to use words effectively in writing or in speech, as well as the ability to persuade, remember information, and explain. They tend to possess excellent writing skills, are good at expressing themselves, and may have a knack for learning languages. Linguistic individuals understand things best when they are put into words, and probably read more than most people. When they were young, they probably picked up vocabulary quickly and learned to read quite easily. Authors, poets, journalists, speakers, and newscasters exhibit high degrees of linguistic intelligence.
Visual-Spatial intelligence refers to a highly developed capacity to perceive the visual world accurately and to transform, manipulate, and recreate mental images. People with this intelligence have the capacity to think in two and three-dimensional ways. They "think in pictures". This ability is relevant in everyday activities and problems, from space orientation (reading maps, orienting oneself in a strange environment) to practical tasks (re-arranging furniture, maximizing closet space). They are those people with the amazing ability to find their way around a strange city after having visited it only once! Visual-Spatial people may find mazes relatively easy and could finish a jigsaw puzzle long before anyone else. There is a strong likelihood that they could draw well at an early age, preferring to show an idea on paper rather than explain it verbally. Spatial intelligence is valuable for occupations that involve the manipulation of tangible objects, such as in the engineering, mechanics, technical, and design fields.
Musical intelligence encompasses the ability to compose and perform musical patterns, and recognize pitches, tones, and rhythms. This type of intelligence is most easily recognized in an environment in which music is important, instruments are readily available, or with activities that require rhythm, like singing or dancing. People with a high musical intelligence probably hummed or sang to themselves as children and could pick up a tune the first time they heard it. They tend to have a knack for distinguishing a musical note and could match it if asked to do so. As soon as they hear music, they feel the need to move to its rhythms. Playing an instrument is probably (or would be) easier for them than most people. Musical individuals are particularly sensitive to sounds within the environment, from running water to a bird's song. Those demonstrating high musical intelligence include composers, conductors, musicians, musical critics, as well as instrument makers.
Intrapersonal intelligence is the capacity to detect and discern among one's own feelings (self-knowledge) and the ability to use that knowledge for personal understanding. Individuals with this kind of intelligence are able to construct an accurate perception of themselves and use such knowledge in planning and directing their life. This is essentially a private intelligence that does not need the interaction of others to realize its aspirations and goals. Intrapersonal people prefer to pursue their own interests and ideas and may even be accused of living in a world of their own on occasion. They have a strong sense of their own independent worth and exhibit certain intuitive skills. This deep sense of self-reliance means that they do especially well on their own; they are self-starters who learn best when they are left to their own devices. People with strong intrapersonal intelligence can excel in a wide range of fields such as theology, psychology, and philosophy, to name but a few.
Interpersonal intelligence is the capacity to understand and interact effectively with others. This intelligence involves the ability to discern the moods, temperaments, dispositions, motivations, and desires of other people and respond appropriately. This is the "people-person" intelligence. It is evident in successful teachers, social workers, actors, or politicians, and operates primarily through person-to-person relationships and communication. It involves skills such as effective communication, working together with others towards a common goal, and noticing distinctions among individuals. If one has high interpersonal intelligence, he or she is probably popular and has many friends. As a child, it is likely that Interpersonal people were often the leader of a group and were able to organize and influence peers with skill. Their talent for interpreting and understanding the feelings of others makes them a good mediator and a potential earpiece for many of their friends. They learn best when involved in team activities and cooperative ventures.
Naturalistic intelligence, a recent addition to Dr. Howard Gardner's list, refers to a deep and extensive understanding of the natural world. With their keen observational skills and classification abilities, people with this intelligence can easily identify and categorize various types of plants and animals. They likely enjoyed exploring the outdoors as a child, collecting anything from rocks to butterflies. Individuals with "nature smarts" are very perceptive to changes in their environment, and often have a deep connection to all living things. This type of intelligence is evident in biologists, zoologists, geologists, astronomers, environmentalists, meteorologists, and botanists - people who find both interest and inspiration in nature.
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