Intelligences: incorporate all of them

August 5th, 2014

For the past twenty plus years I have been a disciple of Dr. Howard Gardner of Harvard University and his theory of “Multiple Intelligences.”

In 1983 he spoke to a group of public school teachers in Tarrytown, NY (think Ichabod Crane and the headless horseman) and the world of education has not been the same since. While I mostly use this information when I am involved with “teacher training,” it is also very much a part of the lives of each of us. We are capable of learning through each of these intelligences, but most of us have preferences for those that we are most comfortable with and help us learn best.

As I present a “thumbnail” sketch of each intelligence, I’d like you to think about: how it relates to the way you learn best and which occupation(s) would favor this intelligence.

Verbal/Linguistic (word smart)

Folks who favor this intelligence learn best by reading and writing. Those truly involved in this intelligence love words; their definition and derivation. They like to learn new vocabulary and to play with words as they write. They love to learn new languages.

Logical/Mathematical (logic smart)

Folks who learn best through this intelligence focus on sequence, patterning, logical consequences, comparisons and thinking in concrete terms. The logical learner likes organization and drawing conclusions based on logic.

Visual/Spatial (image smart)

These folks learn best when they can see something—a map, a graph, a color wheel, a picture, a video—87% of adults self report to be visual learners. They often create images in their heads and create mind maps to help them think in visual terms.

Bodily/Kinesthetic (body smart)

Folks who favor this intelligence learn best when they are physically involved. They often are found “playing” with a pencil or paper clip as they think. They love to experience, to touch and feel objects, to move, to be fully engaged in the learning process. They engage all of their senses in learning—what does it feel like, smell like, look like?

Musical/Rhythmic (sound smart)

Those who learn best in this intelligence are constantly involved with music in some way. They often tap out a rhythm, sing a song in their mind, put new information to music to learn it, are connected musically to emotions. Think of the way you learned the alphabet. Think of a song that each time you hear it floods you with memories. This is arguably our most powerful intelligence. It is the first intelligence formed and the last to leave.

Naturalist (nature smart)

People who love to be involved with the natural world often favor this intelligence and create learning metaphors to something in nature. Consider what you might learn about leadership by focusing on geese flying south or bees creating a hive. What might you learn from nature?

Intrapersonal (self smart)

There are people who like to learn best on their own. They love time to process things and reflect on what it all means. They are very often quiet (not shy) and do not speak up quickly because they are thinking through the information in their minds before coming to conclusions. They are often deep and analytical thinkers and need time to reflect and process information.

Interpersonal (people smart)

Folks who favor this intelligence learn best when they interact and share ideas with others. They love to bounce ideas around and believe in synergy (together we are better than any one of us alone). These people love group projects and tend to communicate well. They love to learn through stories and enjoy feedback from others.

Again, this a “thumbnail” sketch of a very complex and comprehensive theory of how people (worldwide) engage these intelligences to enhance their own learning. I invite you to go back and think about which are your top three ways of learning. Do you learn best by seeing? (my favorite) or by incorporating music?, or by creating a sequence and discovering how things all fit together? Maybe you learn best when you think things through and process in your mind, or when you can engage with others and learn from each other. Everyone has a unique way of incorporating any/all of these different ways of knowing. Often you are unaware of how you learn—think about it. Search Multiple Intelligences online for more information.

Now, consider occupations that incorporate each of these intelligences to enhance performance.

Thinking Ministry

Include different intelligences as you teach Bible Study or work with children, youth or adults. Check out my books on my website that help teachers teach using all of the intelligences. The more intelligences that are incorporated, the greater/deeper the faith message is experienced. 

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