Every Child Is Smart: Theory of Multiple Intelligences

Every Child Is Smart: Theory of Multiple Intelligences

It is believed that 90% of the human brain develops by the age of 5, and the first 8 years of a child’s life build a foundation for health and future learning. This means that a child requires access to the right kind of tools, and environment that are challenging and nurturing while his/her brain is absorbing information, comprehending, and learning to respond. The brain develops from everyday experiences and lessons that are not just practical but also emotional.

Intelligence is usually defined as one’s intellectual potential - something that can be measured, a capacity that is difficult to change. Our education system has led us to believe that grades and academic performance are widely accepted measures of a child’s intelligence. It is important to understand that every child is unique and born with natural talents. He/she is naturally inclined towards one or more methods of learning, best explained by Howard Gardner, a developmental psychologist, in his theory of multiple intelligences. 

In an interview, Howard Gardner suggested, "We have this myth that the only way to learn something is to read it in a textbook or hear a lecture on it. And the only way to show that we've understood something is to take a short-answer test or maybe occasionally with an essay question thrown in. But that's nonsense. Everything can be taught in more than one way."

9 Types of Intelligences – The Theory of Multiple Intelligences 

The theory of multiple intelligences throws light on human intelligence, focusing on learning methods that help educators categorize students and understand the way they think and learn.

1. Visual-Spatial Intelligence: 

Those who are excellent at visualizing things possess strong visual-spatial intelligence. These people are often great with directions, maps, charts, graphs, and videos. Interpreting visual art in all forms gives them pleasure and helps them comprehend things better. Spatial intelligence is often regarded as the ability to think in three dimensions. Children and young adults with this kind of intelligence often understand patterns and are drawn towards mazes and jigsaw puzzles. Engineers, artists, and architects are examples of professionals who possess a great degree of visual-spatial intelligence.

2. Linguistic-Verbal Intelligence: 

Those who possess linguistic-verbal intelligence can use words well, both when speaking and writing. Grammar and vocabulary are their superpowers, and they tend to remember and recollect spoken information. They often pursue creative writing, either as a profession or a hobby and can keep people engaged through their writing skills. Individuals with this gifted intelligence take pleasure in reading, enjoy debates and are expressive with their words. Journalists, lawyers, writers, and teachers are great potential career options for students who posses linguistic-verbal intelligence. 

3. Logical-Mathematical Intelligence: 

People with logical-mathematical intelligence are generally good at reasoning, recognizing and logically analyzing patterns. Their minds think and comprehend in numbers, which leads them to approach challenges logically. They are naturally good at problem-solving and conclusion-drawing. They tend to enjoy thinking about abstract ideas and are inclined towards analyzing all aspects of any given situation. Logical intelligence is usually well developed amongst computer engineers, mathematicians, scientists, and accountants. 

4. Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence: 

Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence mainly focuses on physical movement as a learning method. Those who are gifted with this type of intelligence are good at body movement and physical control. People who excel in this area of intelligence are known to have extremely powerful hand-eye coordination. Their motor controls are always active, and they remember and learn by doing rather than hearing or seeing. This form of learning involves practice as a primary tool, and children who possess this intelligence often enjoy and pursue careers as dancers, sportspersons, actors, and sculptors among other options. 

5. Musical Intelligence: 

These are sharp listeners who are naturally gifted with the ability to recognize (hear) sounds in situations that will easily be missed by those with other types of intelligences. They think, comprehend, and learn in a flow, which is quite similar to those with mathematical intelligence where patterns are key to learning. Children with musical intelligence often appreciate music, performance, pitch, tone, and rhythm. They tend to remember melodies/songs and are often inclined towards leaning an instrument. There is an affective relation between music and emotions.  Singers, music composers and music teachers are some of the career options they would slip into, naturally. 

6. Interpersonal Intelligence: 

Interpersonal intelligence is no less than a superpower to read people based on communication that is not always verbal. This type of intelligence reflects on one’s social circle – actions and involvement. It is the ability to read people based on their body language, tone, mannerisms, and other forms of non-verbal communication. These people can often relate to what others feel on a deeper level, which is why they communicate well, are often found resolving conflicts and work on creating positive relationships. Young adults with this kind of intelligence are leaders among their peers, are good at communicating, and seem to understand others’ feelings and motives. Empathy is their superpower which is common among teachers, counsellors, social workers and even salespersons. 

7. Intrapersonal Intelligence: 

As the name suggests, this type of intelligence focuses on all things internal. It lays emphasis on one’s ability to understand his/her thoughts, feelings, and state of mind. The ones with this kind of intelligence are always aware of their emotional state and motivating factors. They tend to enjoy self-reflection and assessing their personal needs is their biggest strength. They are very much aware of their feelings and are always self-motivated. Along with excellent self-awareness, they are good at analyzing theories and ideas, which is why philosophers, scientists and psychologists make great career options. 

8. Naturalist Intelligence:

Don’t we all know somebody who, amidst nature, is at his/her best? Those who are deeply rooted in nature and its characteristics hold naturalist intelligence. This type of intelligence belongs to all nature enthusiasts, the ones who are at ease when in nature and can also grow anything in the most unusual places. They are the green thumbs of society, who have evolved from hunters, gatherers, and farmers to botanists and chefs. These people are most aware of changes in their environment, and naturally inclined towards exploring activities like gardening, camping, nature hikes and studying biology. 

9. Existential Intelligence: 

Commonly known as spiritual or moral intelligence, this group focuses on understanding the meaning of life. They often question every tiny detail of their lives, looking for answers on a deeper level. They are philosophical thinkers and possess the ability to understand answers bigger than themselves. Questions and theories about human existence, what happens when we die, afterlife and meaning of life fascinate them the most. 

Even after 20 years, the theory of multiple intelligences is criticized by psychologists and has been a topic for discussion. It throws light on the fact that as humans, there is so much more for us to explore, including teaching styles that are unique to each group. These intelligences/smarts are possessed by all humans, and they are not always restricted to just one. So, a child who struggles with math is not foolish/silly, but simply needs to be taught in a way that identifies with his/her natural learning method. We’re all born with these natural intelligences, which means we’re all born smart! It all narrows down to identifying a child’s natural inclination. All children are intelligent, often in ways that we may not understand.