If you’re a Baby Boomer, your education was probably pretty traditional – the teacher lectured, you took notes, and then were tested on how well you learned and retained the information. You were probably also given an IQ, or “Intelligence Quotient,” test to measure how intellligent you were. Your score was compared to others of your age and you were placed in a particular percentile. There were several different types of IQ tests, but they all basically measured the same factors.
In 1983, Howard Gardner put forth a somewhat controversial theory called “Multiple Intelligences.” Gardner, a professor of education at Harvard University, theorized that there isn’t just one form of intelligence, but that there are actually seven (and possibly eight) different types of intelligence showing a wide range of abilities and talents. Humans can be measured in any of them – and one type isn’t “better” than another and doesn’t make that person “smarter” than someone else. This theory has had a profound impact on teaching and learning in our schools.
The Seven Types of Intelligence
This type of intelligence is strongest in numbers, logic and abstract thinking. The emphasis is on the more traditional mathematical abillities. People who are strong in this type of intelligence will usually perform well on traditional IQ tests. Scientific investigations and reasoning are also very strong. Typically engineers, scientists, economists and mathematicians are functioning in this type of intelligence.
People with this type of intelligence are best at learning through bodily movement and usually
excel at physcial activities such as dancing and sports. These are often the types of students who have a hard time sitting still in traditional classrooms and like to get up and “do” the activity. They tend to have good muscle memory and fine motor skills. Actors, dancers, athletes, doctors, and people in the armed services all are strong in this intelligence.
If you’re very good at solving puzzles, have an excellent sense of direction, and can clearly visualize things and see how they fit together, then you likely are strong in this type of intelligence. Spatial intelligence allows you to literally think in pictures and see the effects in your mind when changes are made. You’re also good at translating these images onto paper. Architects, designers, artists and sculptors generally are strong in this type of intelligence.
This type of intelligence is generally found in politicians, teachers, salespeople and social workers. It deals with interaction with others – sensitivity to moods, emotions, temperaments, and motivations. People with this intelligence tend to be extroverts and work in fields where they interact with others on a daily basis.
People who prefer to work alone and are highly perfectionist tend to be strong in this type of intelligence. These people are typically introverts and are generally very highly self-aware and are able to understand their own emotions and motivations. They are the “deep thinkers” in society, our philosophers, writers and scientists.
This intelligence shows a great sensitivity to sounds and rhythms. Auditory learning is very easy for these people, so traditional lecture is very effective for them. They may have perfect pitch and typically sing and play multiple musical instruments. They like to have music always playing in the background and often use music and rhythms to help memorize information.
Writers, journalists, politicians, poets, teachers, and philosophers all show high ability in this intelligence. These people have an easy time learning new languages and are good at reading and writing. They learn best in a tradtional setting, and are very good at intense discussion and debate.
If educators are aware of these multiple types of intelligence, they can incorporate other styles of teaching into their daily lessons. Reaching all students, not just those who learn best in the traditional way, benefits everyone in our society and allows everyone to contribute.