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Multiple Intelligences - A Primer

Intelligence Quotient (IQ) Testing - where did it come from?

Two psychologists named Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon created thefirst Intelligence Scale in 1905. The French government hadcommissioned this test to assess, which students would likelysucceed or fail in the French school system.

In 1930, Lewis Terman made revisions to this original assessment andrenamed it the Intelligence Test. This was the first time in historythat an intelligence quotient to measure a child's mental ageagainst their chronological age.

Through the years, our school systems have come to rely heavily onIQ and "standardized" testing, which puts an inordinate amount offocus on verbal-linguistic and math-logical intelligences, typicallyat the expense of other intelligences. But, the question remains,what is this Multiple Intelligence idea all about?

Researching the Theory of Multiple Intelligence

The first exploration into the theory of Multiple Intelligence wasin a book by author, Dr. Howard Gardner in 1983. Dr. Gardner definedintelligence as consisting of three components:

- Ability to create an effective product or service that is valuable to one's culture
- Set of skills that enables an individual to solve problems encountered in life
- Potential for finding or creating solutions for problems, which enables a person to acquire new knowledge

Dr. Gardner, who has become a world-renowned authority on the topicof MI, derived this theory based on extensive brain research, aswell as interviews, tests, and research on hundreds of individuals.He studied the cognitive abilities of people afflicted with strokesand accident victims, as well as child prodigies, autistic childrenand those with learning disabilities.

His conclusions became the foundation for his MI theory in thatintelligence is not one inborn fixed trait that dominates all astudent's skills or problem-solving abilities, but rather eachperson has different parts of their brains that may be more highlydeveloped than other parts. While these different parts of the brainare interconnected, they may work independent or in concert to helpa student learn depending on the educational environment and thechild's preferred intelligences.

With this in mind, Dr. Gardner identified eight differentIntelligences that every person would have, to varying degrees.These intelligences are verbal/linguistic, math/logical, spatial,bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, andnaturalist.

The Eight Intelligences Explained

Verbal-Linguistic - The Writer/Speaker Children with strong Verbal-Linguistic intelligence will have apropensity to produce language and sensitivity to the nuances, orderand rhythm of words. These students love to read, write and tellstories. They have good memories for names, places, dates andtrivia. Professionals with strong VL intelligence will be writers,public speakers, teachers, and actors. Some historical examplesinclude Abraham Lincoln, T.S. Elliot and Charlton Heston.

Math-Logical - The Scientist

Children with strong Math-Logical intelligence have the ability toreason deductively and can recognize and manipulate abstractpatterns or relationships. Students who have strong problem-solvingand reasoning skills will excel in this intelligence. Adults withthis intelligence will work as scientists, mathematicians, computerprogrammers, lawyers or accountants. Some historical examplesinclude Albert Einstein, Nicolae Tesla, Alexander Graham Bell.

Spatial - The Builder

Children with Spatial intelligence have the ability to createvisual-spatial representations and can transfer them mentally orconcretely. Students who exhibit this intelligence need a mental orphysical "picture" to understand the information being presented.Professionals in this intelligence are typically graphic artists,architects, cartographers and sculptors. Some historical examplesinclude Frank Lloyd Wright, Pablo Picasso, and Bobby Fischer.

Musical - The Composer

Children with strong Musical intelligence have great sensitivity tothe rhythm of sounds (e.g. pitch, timbre, composition). Studentsstrong in this intelligence will enjoy listening to music and mayultimately work as singers, songwriters, composers, or even musicteachers. Some historical examples include Ludwig van Beethoven,J.S. Bach, and Mozart.

Bodily-Kinesthetic - The Athlete

Children with strong Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence gravitatetowards athletics; however, they also may use their bodies to solveproblems, or convey ideas and emotions. Students with BKintelligence will be good at physical activities, have good hand-eyecoordination and may have a tendency to move around a lot whileexpressing themselves. Professionals using BK intelligence willinclude athletes, surgeons, dancers and even inventors. Somehistorical examples include Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and AndreAgassi.

Interpersonal - The Peacemaker

Children with strong Interpersonal intelligence work effectively ina group and understand and recognize the goals, motivations andintentions of others. Students with this intelligence thrive incooperative, group work situations and are skilled at communicating,mediating and negotiating. Professionals in this intelligence may beteachers, therapists, and salespeople. Some historical examplesinclude Mohandas Gandhi, Mother Theresa and Ronald Reagan.

Intrapersonal - The Philosopher

Children who are strong in the Intrapersonal intelligence have theability to understand one's own emotions, goals and motivations.These students have good instincts about their strengths andabilities. This intelligence will be highly developed inprofessionals who work as philosophers, psychiatrists or religiousleaders. Some historical examples include Eleanor Roosevelt andSigmund Freud.

Naturalist - The Earth Lover

Children with strong focus in this intelligence will exhibit anaffinity for all things nature. These students will enjoy and thrivewhen learning about nature topics, such as flora and fauna. Someprofessions with focus on this intelligence will include forestrangers, botanists, farmers and biologists. Some historical examplesinclude Charles Darwin, John Muir.

Please remember, while we have outlined some of the specific traits,professions and historical examples associated with eachintelligence type, everyone has some level of proficiency in eachand every intelligence, and it behooves us, as parents, to learn howto cultivate each of these intelligences in our children.

Misunderstood Historical Figures

This last section is meant to shine a little glimmer of hope on allof us who may have not measured up to every task presented in ourlives. We hope it helps bring into focus how despite the influenceof some naysayers early in their lives, some of the most influentialand historic people in the world also suffered from their ownmisalignment with the "status quo" of their times.

- Albert Einstein was four years old before he could speak and seven before he could read.
- Beethoven's music teacher once said of him, "As a composer, he is hopeless".
- A newspaper editor fired Walt Disney because he had "no good ideas".
- Abraham Lincoln entered the Black Hawk War as a captain and came out as a private.
- Thomas Edison's teachers told him he was too stupid to learn anything.
- And last, but not least, Louisa May Alcott was told by an editor that she would never write anything that had popular appeal.

Submitted by:

Peter Petracco

Think * Play * Create

Peter Petracco runs WonderBrains, an educational toystore based onthe principles of the Multiple Intelligence Theory. He alsocontributes to WonderWaves, a monthly newsletter full of educationaltidbits and guidance on educational toy shopping. Visit theWonderBrains website at http://www.wonderbrains.com





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