Everyone really can learn, but not in the same way. Traditionally, intelligence
was rated using an IQ test which focused on only one way of thinking.
But not everyone’s brains are wired in the same way. As our understanding
of the brain improves, scientists are learning that there are many ways
to be intelligent.
Think of athletes, chess champions or musicians; all of these people have
a special kind of intelligence that simply isn’t reflected in their
scores on an IQ test. Instead, a theory by Howard Gardner postulates that
we have eight different kinds of intelligences. Everyone possesses all
eight of the intelligences in varying degrees of aptitude.
- Verbal-linguistic intelligence
- Logical-mathematical intelligence
- Visual-spatial intelligence
- Musical intelligence
- Naturalistic intelligence
- Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence
- Interpersonal intelligence
- Intrapersonal intelligence
No educator can be expected to cover all the intelligences in a lesson
nor do they have the time to develop these in each of their students.
The theory was originally intended to challenge the linear way of thinking
about intelligence in the psychological sphere. Instead, it has been educators
who have championed this cause.
Perhaps it’s because, when working one-to-one with their students,
educators can see that while students may not have strong language skills
have an aptitude for numbers or music. They see that there are different
types of intelligence that slips through the cracks of an IQ test.
Scott Seider, from Boston University: “The IQ test and the SAT, two
assessments unquestionably correlated with an individual’s class
status and schooling opportunities, have been utilized to declare some
children intrinsically “smarter” than others and more deserving
of seats in gifted-and-talented programs, magnet schools, and elite universities.
Particularly in urban schools, the pressure from testing has narrowed
the curriculum to focus on those subjects on which graduation and accreditation
rest — at the expense of art, music, theater, physical education,
foreign language, and even science and social studies.”
While further research is necessary to better understand the different
types of intelligences, it does help teachers and tutors to understand
that students learn differently and to present information in class or
in one-to-one tutoring sessions in a variety of ways so that everyone
Students should also be encouraged to develop all aspects of their brains
so that they are well-rounded instead of focusing on those areas which
lead to high IQ scores.
As a society, we also have to start recognizing different types of intelligences
so that we broaden our idea of what ‘smart’ is to include
people with intelligences that aren’t based on reading and math skills.