I is for Intelligences
One of the most interesting and useful things I learned in my developmental psychology class is Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences. In a nutshell, Gardner proposes that there is no one intelligence scale that is universally applicable. This is often taught in contrast to the IQ scale, in which there is one scale used for all people. In Gardner’s theory, there are seven different types of intelligences that any person can have: visual-spatial, kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic, and logical-mathematical.
In conversation, it is only the logical-mathematical intelligence that is commonly known simply as “intelligence.”
I don’t mean to get all academic on you, but this is honestly one of the most practical things I have ever learned. So many kids, myself included, went through the American school system thinking they were not intelligent because they did not get good grades in math and science. In so many cultures and societies, a person’s “intelligence” is based on how well they know mathematical and scientific knowledge.
According to Gardner’s theory, that means there are populations of people who are being taught that they are not intelligent simply because they have strengths in the other, non-logical-mathematical, intelligence scales.
Me, for example.
There are very few things in life that I hate, and even in this context I don’t feel comfortable using that language, but I hate math. Even if I spent hours over a mathematical concept, I never understood the use or value of the things I learned in my math classes. I loathed learning the concepts. I hated every moment of working through a math problem. I had great teachers, but none of them were able to make me love, or even remotely like, the subject. Similar also to chemistry, my mind just does not work that way.
When I saw other “smart” kids excel at those subjects, I got it in my head that I just wasn’t as smart as other people.
Then I learned about the different types of intelligences and it’s like a whole other world opened up for me.
While I may not be super strong in the logical-mathematical intelligence, I believe I have very strong interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence. I get people. I understand the motives behind human behavior. I know how to adjust my language when talking with a variety of people to ensure that my message is well-received.
I also have a strong sense of my own habits, behaviors, and mindset.
This all explains why I understand psychology so much. Psychology is the science of the human mind. It will take me years, maybe more, to understand how chemistry works, but in a matter of one lecture I can grasp a psychological concept.
I really wish more people would be aware of the different kinds of intelligences. We as a system are really hindering kids from living up to their full potential by limiting them to the math and science box of intelligence.