Naturally intelligent

"It's not how smart you are, but how you are smart."

I attended a workshop yesterday that presented ways to implement Gardner's Theories of Multiple Intelligences and Goleman's Emotional and Social Intelligence research in programming for elementary age children. We didn't cover the intelligences in depth, or their many many possible applications (and neither will I here). Whether or not this research holds any weight in the world (and, I believe it does), I did leave with some great programming ideas, a better vocabulary set to understand and focus my work with kids, and validation of my instincts and hunches.

There is one intelligence that was new to me, and has been...well...bothering me a little bit. Gardner says that we all have access to all eight intelligences, though to varying degrees, and that they are equally important. The eight, as he has identified, are:
  • Linguistic (learn best by reading)
  • Logical-Mathematical (learn best with numbers and logic) (not me, by the way)
  • Spatial (visual learners -- think in pictures)
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic (learn best with physical experiences)
  • Musical (learn best in tempo and pitch)
  • Interpersonal ("people smart")
  • Intrapersonal ("self smart")
  • Naturalist ("to understand the natural world including plants, animals and scientific studies")
Not having really studied educational theories before, I think it will take me some time to work out the difference between "intelligence" and "talent," but naturalist intelligence is the most difficult for me to lump with the other seven. Certainly there are people who have more of a green thumb, are better with animals, can easily recognize and identify different flowers or understand The Tree of Life quickly.

People learn best when a meaningful connection is made, so it makes sense to me that for the kinesthetically intelligent among us, the pairing of movement and learning has a better chance of making that meaningful connection. With the first seven I can more readily think ways to extend a topic to tap into the intelligences, to encourage connections to be made in different ways. And (I found out) I do already.

Naturalist? There's a program called Paws to Read that brings trained therapy dogs into the library and allows children to practice reading aloud to a nonthreatening audience. That's the best example that I know of that I can think of. Experiences in nature are more stimulating for those who have heightened naturalist intelligence, so the next time my book clubs suggest having the discussion outside on a nice day, I will jump at the opportunity to stimulate this intelligence.

Link Love
Howard Gardner: Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and author of Frames of Mind (1983) that introduced the Theory of Multiple Intelligences

Multiple Intelligences Assessment
(I'm strongest in self, followed by spatial then nature) and Engaging the Intelligences

Multiple Intelligences and Childhood Development: a nice checklist of traits associated with each intelligence in both children and adults

Multiple Intelligences Research and Consulting
: just as it sounds

New Horizons: neuroscience articles that are actually easy to read

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