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Ways of Making Meaning– Multiple Intelligences

March, 2007
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  There is now a plethora of evidence and research that supports the notion that there are many types of intelligences and learning styles. As an institution responsible for the delivery of learning and culture, the school seeks to find ways to enable students to require the intellectual, social and emotional skills necessary to function as a global citizen. To some degree the skills are defined, they include reading, writing and arithmetic. These are some of the core coding systems necessary for further inquiry into human culture.

  What is clear is that intelligence and learning styles have become inextricably bound, so that it is hard to discuss one without drawing on the characterization of the other elements. This week I will look at the “intelligence combinations”, what they are and their disposition.

  So what is intelligence? It is a difficult and nebulous concept to define, but the Oxford Dictionary tells us that “intelligence is the capacity to acquire and apply knowledge the faculty of thought and reason, using superior powers of the mind….or….to learn understand and reason.”

  So what does this tell us? If we examine this definition of intelligence, does this mean the same for everyone? Does it explain how and why different cultures value different aspects of intelligence? The answer of course is no. Howard Gardner began his work on human intelligences in the eighties and through his studies the parameters of intelligence and how we measure it were profoundly changed forever.

  Gardner had a different approach to intelligence in that he did not focus on IQ testing as a means of measuring intelligence; rather he began by looking at different cultures and came up with ways that cultures make different meaning. His research brought about the notion of multiple intelligences and in 1983 he added the “s” to intelligence, to create: The Eight Intelligences. He challenged the notions that human cognition was a quantifiable, unit of measurement. He opposed this reductionist view and saw intelligence as something that can be exhibited in many ways.

  Here is a brief summary of Gardner’s Eight Intelligences:

Intelligence

Characteristics of learning

Logical-Mathematical Intelligence

Hard sciences and maths; Emphasis on the rational; Good at finding patterns; Cause and effect; Concepts and sequencing of ideas; Think Albert Einstein

Spatial- Intelligence

Creating and re-creating pictures; Often engineers, architects, artists; Can often convert words into mental pictures, graphs, process models; Keen sense of location and direction

Musical intelligence

Ability to produce melody and rhythm; Able to sing in key; Sensitive to all type of nonverbal sounds and the rhythms of noise

Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence

Relates to the physical self and manipulation of one’s own body; Make precise body movements with ease; Tactile sense is usually well developed; Learn best by moving and acting out

Interpersonal Intelligence

The socially competent; Good team players and negotiators; Sensitive to others moods and can read the group dynamic pretty well; Usually friendly and outgoing; They learn best when they can relate to others in peer tutoring situations

Intrapersonal Intelligence

Able to understand own feelings; Usually choose to work on own as they use ad trust their self-understanding; Able to form realistic goals; Have a very realistic conception of self

Naturalist Intelligence

Highly attuned to the natural world; Natural objects and living animals including the elements; Tend to notice patterns, features and anomalies in the environment; Show a deep understanding and appreciation of the environment; Think Charles Darwin


  Of course thinking of broader and inclusive paradigms of intelligence is not unique to Gardner, nor would Gardner argue that this model necessarily represents the full scope of the human mind. However I do think it does offer a significant model beyond the traditional quantifying paradigm. Next issue I will look at how these frameworks of thinking effects our learning styles.

 

By Laraine Reason, Beijing BISS International School Beijing

 

 

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