Gone are the classrooms filled with narrow aisles of desks where students adjust to each teacher’s lecture style and dusty handwritten notes printed as neatly as possible upon a chalkboard. Modern learning environments are as varied as each individual student. The changes all began back in 1999 with Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences.
Gardner recognizes eight different intelligences and believes that all individuals have varying levels of mastery. The strongest levels or scores indicate the type of learner the person is. Knowing the way a student comprehends and retains information is vastly important in determining the mode in which the knowledge is given.
For some students, traditional lecturing with little visual or audio aid is sufficient to gain and retain the information. For others, simply hearing the gathered facts is pointless as they will neither gain nor retain the dissemination.
Knowing which combination of intelligences your child exhibits will allow for a greater rate of success. A knowledgeable parent might champion his student with quality parent-teacher conferences, appropriate learning environments (online schools, magnet schools, charter schools, etc). To quote the late philosopher Sir Francis Bacon, “knowledge is power.”
- Spatial: ability to visualize with the mind’s eye, so to speak. A spatial person is also good with puzzles. Careers which suit those with this type of intelligence include artists, designers and architects.
- Linguistic: ability with words, spoken or written. People with high verbal-linguistic intelligence display a facility with words and languages. They are typically good at reading, writing, telling stories and memorizing words along with dates. They tend to learn best by reading, taking notes, listening to lectures, and discussion and debate. They are also frequently skilled at explaining, teaching and oration or persuasive speaking. Those with verbal-linguistic intelligence learn foreign languages very easily as they have high verbal memory and recall, and an ability to understand and manipulate syntax and structure. Careers that suit those with this intelligence include writers, lawyers, policemen, philosophers, journalists, politicians, poets, and teachers
- Logical-mathematical: ability to use logic, abstractions, reasoning, and numbers. While it is often assumed that those with this intelligence naturally excel in mathematics, chess, computer programming and other logical or numerical activities, a more accurate definition places less emphasis on traditional mathematical ability and more on reasoning capabilities, abstract patterns of recognition, scientific thinking and investigation, and the ability to perform complex calculations. It correlates strongly with traditional concepts of “intelligence” or IQ. Careers which suit those with this intelligence include scientists, physicists, mathematicians, logicians, engineers, doctors, economists and philosophers.
- Kinesthetic: The core elements of the bodily-kinesthetic intelligence are control of one’s bodily motions and capacity to handle objects skillfully (206). Gardner elaborates to say that this intelligence also includes a sense of timing, a clear sense of the goal of a physical action, along with the ability to train responses so they become like reflexes. They may enjoy acting or performing, and in general they are good at building and making things. They often learn best by doing something physically, rather than [by] reading or hearing about it. Those with strong bodily-kinesthetic intelligence seem to use what might be termed muscle memory – they remember things through their body such as verbal memory. Careers that suit those with this intelligence include: athletes, dancers, musicians, actors, surgeons, doctors, builders, police officers, and soldiers. Although these careers can be duplicated through virtual simulation, they will not produce the actual physical learning that is needed in this intelligence.
- Musical: This area has to do with sensitivity to sounds, rhythms, tones, and music. People with a high musical intelligence normally have good pitch and may even have absolute pitch, and are able to sing, play musical instruments, and compose music. Since there is a strong auditory component to this intelligence, those who are strongest in it may learn best via lecture. Language skills are typically highly developed in those whose base intelligence is musical. In addition, they will sometimes use songs or rhythms to learn. They have sensitivity to rhythm, pitch, meter, tone, melody or timbre. Careers that suit those with this intelligence include instrumentalists, singers, conductors, disc-jockeys, orators, writers and composers.
- Interpersonal: This intelligence demonstrates interaction with others. In theory, people who have a high interpersonal intelligence tend to be extroverts, characterized by their sensitivity to others’ moods, feelings, temperaments and motivations, and their ability to cooperate in order to work as part of a group. They communicate effectively and empathize easily with others, and may be either leaders or followers. They typically learn best by working with others and often enjoy discussion and debate. Careers that suit those with this intelligence include sales, politicians, managers, teachers, and social workers.
- Intrapersonal: the ability to be introspective and have self-reflective capacities. People with intrapersonal intelligence are intuitive and typically introverted. They are skillful at deciphering their own feelings and motivations. This refers to having a deep understanding of the self; what are your strengths/ weaknesses, what makes you unique, can you predict your own reactions/ emotions. Careers which suit those with this intelligence include philosophers, psychologists, theologians, lawyers, and writers. People with intrapersonal intelligence also prefer to work alone.
- Naturalistic: ability to work in and around nature, nurturing and relating information to one’s natural surroundings. Careers which suit those with this intelligence include naturalists, farmers, and gardeners.
Take your free Multiple Intelligence test here: bgfl.org
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When a class full of kindergartners was asked what they wanted to be when they grew up, many answered with the common “veterinarian”, “teacher”, and “professional football player.” One little boy, however, wanted to be a fireman…so he could “get all the hot chicks.”