That may seem like a rhetorical question, but when was the last time you sat down and really thought about your intellectual strengths? Can you develop a marketing plan, plant a garden, direct a children’s choir, balance a ledger sheet, design a website, administer a vaccine, write a lesson plan, perform on stage, decorate a room or fly a plane? We all have activities we excel at whether or not we are currently drawing a paycheck for them. Many of us can also do things well that we don’t particularly enjoy, but have the acquired skill nevertheless and had the intelligence to do so. So how much intelligence did you use, do you use or will you continue to use? What about your children? What kind of intelligence do they have? Low, average, high? How important is it?
I am sure that we can all agree that intelligence is more than just a number you can see on an IQ test; although that number might indeed be an interesting place to start. So let’s look at the definition of intelligence. Webster defines it as, “the ability to learn or understand things or to deal with new or difficult situations.” However, Dr. Howard Gardner, a Harvard professor and author of “Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences,” would challenge that definition as being too narrow. He theorizes a broader definition would include the different ways we humans process information and learn. Through his extensive research, he identified eight intelligences, each of which met seven common criteria. These “Multiple Intelligences” all center on the way content is being taught versus “Learning Styles” which focus on how content is learned.
Diving in deeper, the Eight Multiple Intelligences are Linguistic (words), Logical-Mathematical (numbers), Spatial (pictures), Musical (um, music!), Bodily-Kinesthetic (physical), Interpersonal (social), Intrapersonal (self-aware), and Naturalistic (in nature). Got a few minutes? Take this free online assessment! This is truly an amazing way to think of teaching and learning. In my opinion, this knowledge throws a whole new grid down on the playing field of education. It opens up a myriad of options for teachers or presenters to employ when conveying new subject material. Eight to be exact. So when making out those lesson plans, the instructor’s proverbial bag of tricks is full to overflowing. Sure a lecture will work, but what about a song, or an interview, or a multimedia presentation, or a service project, or a campus survey, or a timeline with data, or a contest, or a picture or is it best to see or to hear or to experience? The possibilities are nearly endless when these Intelligences are taken into consideration.
So, you’re a mom and you wonder how does this knowledge help you? Knowing the intelligences you operate best with, will give you insight into what “reaches” and sticks with you. But, have you ever felt like your child’s intelligence is hidden? Knowing the intelligences your child operates best with allows you to be your child’s strongest advocate! When they are struggling with something in a subject area, you now have a good idea what type of activity will connect with your child’s mind to receive the new information thus allowing their intelligence to shine. This can make homework time less stressful. If you observe that certain teaching techniques work wonders with you child, you might share this information with their classroom teacher. I’m NOT saying you demand she change her plans for your child. You simply share what has worked well at home and offer it as a potential first line of re-teaching for her arsenal at school. Understanding how our brains acquire knowledge is eye-opening. Using this information can be life-changing for any student, whether adult or child. Quality education is a joint effort between teachers, parents and students! Keeping that perspective alone shows your intelligence!
Does the thought of an intelligence test for your child give you hope or overwhelm you? Are you intrigued to know where your intelligences may lie?
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