Intelligence: Multiple Intelligences Theory

How do you know if a person is ‘intelligent’? For the past century, this question has been asked countless of times, and mind you, by the biggest minds of every generation. Is a person intelligent by way of his accomplishments or can it be directly gauged by his school grades? And let us not forget, does the Intelligence Quotient (i.e. IQ) accurately quantify what intelligence means? In the case of its application to one’s studies, knowing the kind of intelligence is good at would be a boon to examination preparation, as something that could boost easy memory techniques, and a benefit that would help you make  the most out of your online education.

Part of this confusion actually lies in how intelligence is defined, and there are two schools of thought on this one. Some say that intelligence is characterized by only one, universal variable; just like the IQ, you could just take a test, and you instantly know how intelligent you are. Others say that intelligence varies in so many ways, that the over-all intelligence of a person can only be known by how varied his strengths are.

How Intelligent Are You?

Howard Gardner, a Harvard psychologist, postulated the latter. Through his research about the brain and about learning, he found out that there are at least 9 kinds of intelligences that people are good at, the same intelligences where different learning styles also stem from. This is something that he states with confidence because, for one, intelligence varies according to different cultures. You can’t take an IQ test to an ethnic tribal group and gauge their intelligence through that, you have to know if they are intelligent enough to master their own habitats. What Gardner tried to point out is that how intelligence is described should be universal and something that could apply to any society, culture, race, or nation.

Enter Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, which, as we we’ve stated earlier, states that people can be intelligent in at least 9 ways: bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, logical-mathematical, verbal-linguistic, visuo-spatial, musical, naturalistic, and spiritual. Just to let you know, as of this time, spiritual intelligence is still not completely included in the list due to its controversial nature, but for purposes of completion, we are including it here.

The 9 Intelligences

How do these intelligences pan out? Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence is the intelligence of motor action and fine motor skill, the intelligence of athletes, dancers, and anyone who relies on physical skill. Interpersonal intelligence is that which corresponds with social behavior, empathy, and verbal pragmatics – simply the intelligence on relating with other people. Intrapersonal intelligence is the intelligence of individual reflection the type usually used by monks, writers, and psychologists. Logical-mathematical intelligence is the capacity for, as the name suggests, the challenges of logic and mathematics, the kind being employed by scientists, mathematicians, and philosophers. Verbal-linguistic intelligence is the intelligence of communication, of the written and spoken word, prevalently under the domain of writers, novelists, orators, and teachers. Visuo-spatial intelligence is the language of the architect, the painter, and the engineer – skill in the form and function of visuals. Musical intelligence, well, it’s the skill of the musician, the singer, and the conductor, and the capacity for the discrimination and production of musical sounds. Naturalistic intelligence is the intelligence of Darwin, or the capacity to understand and make meaning out of natural and biological phenomena. Spiritual intelligence is fashioned after the wisdom of religious leaders, and is said to be the capacity to recognize the divine.

That knowledge that there are different kinds of intelligences makes us realize that there are other facets of our being that we need to recognize. If each kind of intelligence speaks of a different strength, then there is nobody who could say that one kind of intelligence is ‘better’ than another; intelligence is always a manner of context, and one kind of intelligence cannot suffice for all.

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