Saturday, November 8, 2014

Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences

A theory of seven multiple intelligences described by Howard Gardner of Harvard University in his 1983 book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences.

Here are the seven summarized:

1) Visual-spatial architects and interior designers are aware of their environments and think in terms of physical space and learn well with images and imagery.
2) Bodily kinesthetic dancers and surgeons have a keen sense of body awareness and language, learn hands on, acting out, role playing. 
3) Musicians show sensitivity to rhythm and sound in their environments, might learn better with music in the background. 
4) Interpersonal students learn through interaction, have many friends, empathy for others, street smarts, and have been shown to learn well with time and attention from instructors and audio conferencing, group activities, seminars, and dialogues.
5) Intrapersonal students tend to shy away from others, are in tune with their inner feelings, have wisdom, intuition and motivation, a strong will, confidence, and opinions, are best taught through independent study, appreciate privacy, and are the most independent of learners. 
6) Verbal-linguistic students use words effectively, like playing word games, and using computers for word games, listen well to lectures and multimedia presentations.
7) Logical-mathematical thinkers think conceptually, abstractly, and see patterns, solve puzzles, ask cosmic questions, learn through investigations and mysteries, and need to learn and form concepts before they can deal with details.

Also suggested as alternative intelligences are: Naturalistic tendencies (sensitivity to nature), "Existential" or spiritual intelligence, and Moral intelligence (having to do with ethics of right and wrong).

Isn't it likely we are mixes of many of these? Gardner believes we're each a unique mixture of these intelligences. 

However many intelligences there are, schools should allow students to study in a way that works best, whether it's allowing stuents to research independent studies with minimal supervision, or enjoying a lecture, physical education class or coffee break with classmates, or a mix of both. I believe test results would probably improve substantially, even if students pick and choose how they learn, and teachers allow space for that to change for various tasks or over time. Teachers and students would feel less frustrated with each other, if only each could play to the strength of the other.

There is value and truth in the idea that intelligence isn't etched in stone, and shouldn't be believed from a single test if one bad day can make or break a test-taker. Being late, hungry, tired, or feeling ambushed by life's demands can hijack some hapless test-taker's attention, and thus ruin intelligence test results with disastrous long-term consequences.

Here is a quiz you can take to find out your area of intellectual strength.

Myself, I think I'm a mix of musical intrapersonal linguist. Choosing one I'd say intrapersonal, and that was how I tested. I've always liked personal instruction the most and group instruction least. If asking an instructor a question in a group setting isn't possible, I feel frustrated. Yet often, questions aren't permitted and my questions must go unanswered forever. Isn't it frustrating to be in a lecture auditorium and have the lecturer take questions that can't be generally heard and not repeat them? It's usually impossible to guess a question, and extremely frustrating for listeners. I also think it's necessary for someone in that position to repeat a question that not everyone in a room can hear. It's good manners not to waste anyone's time. Try the quiz.

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