Paynesville Press - January 16, 2002

Community Perspective

How are you smart?

By Deb Gillman, principal of Paynesville Area Middle School

In the educational field today, there are many areas of interest. One that I find exciting is the theory of multiple intelligences presented by Dr. Howard Gardner from Harvard University.

He believes that the traditional IQ score which focuses on verbal-linguistic and logical-mathematical is one dimensional and limiting. His theory suggests that there are many intelligences that are important to fuller human development and almost everyone has these intelligences.

Think about the things you like to do in your spare time. They usually indicate your intelligence strengths. Do you like to garden or hunt? Do you seek out people or seek out a quiet place? Do you put on a CD or sit down to read a book? Do you choose a physical activity or a puzzle book? Do you draw?

Dr. Gardner identified seven intelligences; now he writes about eight intelligences. He defines intelligence as:

•The ability to solve real life problems.

•The ability to generate new problems to solve.

•The ability to make something or offer a service that is valued within one's culture.

Dr. Gardner claims that we all possess each of the intelligences but have strengths in one or more.

Musical intelligence is evident in individuals who possess a sensitivity to pitch, melody, rhythm, and tone. Musically skilled people may remember the melodies of songs. They may enjoy singing songs, listening to music, playing an instrument, or attending musical performances. Composers, conductors, musicians, critics, and instrument makers are skilled in musical intelligence.

Visual-spatial: the intelligence of pictures and images. This intelligence involves a sensitivity to color, line, shape, form, and space; the capacity to think in three-dimensions; and to navigate oneself and objects through space. They may also enjoy puzzles and mazes. These people get more out of pictures than words in reading materials. Pilots, sculptors, painters, and architects demonstrate this intelligence.

Bodily-kinesthetic: body smart. Physical coordination and dexterity, using fine and gross motor skills, and expressing oneself or learning through physical activities are the characteristics of this intelligence. People who are strong in bodily-kinesthetic enjoy working with their hands, have good coordination, and handle tools skillfully. They enjoy taking things apart and putting them back together. It is evident in athletes, dancers, mechanics, surgeons, and craftspeople.

Interpersonal: the intelligence of social understanding. Interperson-ally skilled people have the capacity to influence their peers and often excel at group work, team efforts, and collaborative projects. They enjoy social interaction and are sensitive to the feelings and moods of others. One recognizes this intelligence in political and religious leaders, salespeople, counselors, and therapists.

Intrapersonal: self smart. The ability to construct an accurate perception of oneself and to use such knowledge in planning and directing one's life. Intrapersonally skilled people are aware of their range of emotions and have a realistic sense of their strengths and weaknesses. They prefer to work independently and often have their own style of living and learning. Some individuals with this strength are philosophers, spiritual counselors, psychiatrists, and clergy.

Naturalist intelligence consists of the ability to understand, appreciate, and enjoy the natural world. People who exhibit strength in this intelligence are very much at home in nature. They enjoy being outdoors, camping, hiking, hunting, and gardening. Paleontologists, forest rangers, horticulturists, zoologists, and meteorologists all have naturalist intelligence.

Verbal-linguistic: word smart. This is the ability to think in words and to use language to express and appreciate complex meanings. People who are strongly linguistic like to read, write, tell stories or jokes, and play word games. This intelligence and logical-mathematical intelligence are emphasized and tested in our educational system. Authors, journalists, speakers, and newscasters exhibit degrees of linguistic intelligence.

Logical-mathematical: the intelligence of numbers, logic, and reasoning. This intelligence involves number and computing skills, recognizing patterns, and the ability to solve different kinds of problems through logic. People with well developed logical-mathematical intelligence like to find patterns and relationships. They enjoy playing strategy games such as chess or checkers and solving riddles, logical puzzles, or brain teasers. Scientists, accountants, engineers, and computer programmers all demonstrate this intelligence.

Sometimes people wonder why public schools offer classes such as music, physical education, industrial technology, and advisories/homeroom. The variety of courses are an opportunity for all students to succeed in their intelligence strength.

So no longer should we ask: "How smart are you?" We should be asking: "How are you smart?"

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