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Let me introduce you to Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences.
Published by psychologist Howard Gardner in 1983, ‘Frames of Mind’ is a detailed investigation into the concept of intelligence, in which Gardner puts forth his theory that human intelligence can be differentiated into the following modalities: logical-mathematical, linguistics, musical, spatial, bodily-kinaesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal.
Through these modalities he explores the people that possess one, or many of these qualities, and the ways that they are present in our learning styles and acquisition of information.
Now, if you thought this was going to be a psychology paper, I am sorry to inform you that it is not. The reason I find this theory so interesting is that here at St Andrew’s College, I live next door to people who study Engineering, Business, Law, Journalism, Psychology, Environmental Studies, Physiotherapy and Science! Such a diverse range of career and study paths, all packed into one corridor. But the reason I have decided to write this article is because with all of these diverse and talented individuals around you, it is easy to ask:
“Am I doing a dumb degree?”
Howard is here to tell you that you are not.
The most prevalent theory you will find for convincing yourself you’re not ‘dumb’ is by explaining to your friends, “I’m not book smart, I’m street smart,” which leads you to recall people that aren’t that so-called “street smart,” like that one kid at school that never got the joke, goes to grab their toast out with a knife, and doesn’t know how to turn on the stove, but they’re the one that ended up with a 99.95.
So maybe this theory does have some legs.
There are a few versions of the intelligences but here are the ones I will outline:
- Logical-mathematical intelligence: This theory aligns with individuals who have a sensitivity to and a capacity to discern logical or numerical patterns. They have an ability to handle long chains of reasoning. This intelligence is prevalent among those studying Engineering, Science, Finance, Mathematics, Statistics and degrees alike.
2. Linguistic intelligence: This theory is seen in those who have a sensitivity to the sounds, rhythms and meanings of words, and a sensitivity to the different functions of language. People with linguistic intelligence tend to end up in degrees like English, Literature, Journalism, Arts and Languages.
3. Musical intelligence: This theory describes people with the ability to produce and appreciate rhythm, pitch and timbre, and possess an appreciation towards the forms of musical expressiveness. Therefore, those with this intelligence may find themselves studying Music or at the Conservatorium of Music.
4. Spacial-visual intelligence: This theory applies to those who have the capacity to perceive the visual-spatial world accurately and to perform transformations on one’s initial perceptions, including being able to use visual aids to arrive at a solution. This tends to Engineering, Design, Architecture, Interior Design.
5. Bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence: This theory describes those that have the ability to control one’s body movements and to handle objects skilfully. Being able to use the entire body and engaging in movement to skilfully address a challenge. Hence physio, sports science or (separate from a degree) being an athlete that can understand plays, rules and movements. This also stems to degrees in acting and in dance as well.
6. Interpersonal intelligence: This theory reflects those with the capacity to discern and respond appropriately to the moods, temperaments, motivations and desires of other people. Hence those following degrees of psychology, nurses and marketing and sales.
7. Intrapersonal intelligence: This theory includes those with the ability to access one’s own feelings and the ability to discriminate among them and draw upon them to guide behaviour; knowledge of one’s own strengths, weaknesses, desires and intelligences. While this may not necessarily tend to a specific degree, it is applicable in all aspects of life.
Many degrees and careers (e.g. Medicine) are difficult to specify to one specific intelligence; they require a blend of intelligence. Such as scientists, in which they ‘often have to depend on their linguistic intelligence to describe and explain the discoveries made using their logical-mathematic intelligence, and they must employ interpersonal intelligence in interacting with colleagues and in maintaining a productive and smoothly functioning laboratory.’1
So, with these new findings, ones which I am sure you have already identified yourself with, let me point out some findings I have in my corridor. Here’s some common rhetoric for you:
“A High Distinction in Journalism is a lot easier to get than a High Distinction in Engineering.”
I am unsure whether a value for logical-mathematical intelligence stems from high school, where this was often prioritised in our education and assessment methods via objective measures. And how the ATAR measures linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences that thrive through rote learning. But the point I wish to make is: a High Distinction in either of these degrees is incomparable.
For the most part, these measure such different types of intelligence that even though you are on an HD average in your chosen course, this isn’t to say that you are locked in to thrive elsewhere.
You will find that overall, much less people get an HD in an engineering course, but that isn’t indicative of the idea that if a student were to switch to an “easy degree” like Journalism, that they would be guaranteed an HD. That is an issue in itself, such as perhaps choosing a degree that isn’t suited to your type of intelligence, or you put no effort in. Reassess and maybe you will find why you haven’t gotten that top mark yet.
People in journalism who have interpersonal, intrapersonal, and linguistic intelligence will thrive.
People in engineering who have logical-mathematical, spacial-visual and interpersonal intelligence will thrive.
For some real-world examples, Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein and Muhammed Ali all suffered from dyslexia. Their weakest suit was linguistic intelligence and found the path where they became “smart,” excelling in their respective fields that require spacial-visual, logical-mathematic and bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence.
I hope that for some, you have read this article and found peace. Peace that you haven’t chosen an “easy” degree, or peace that you have found one that is perfect for you and for your strengths. However, there may be some of you who read this and question the exact path you have chosen. Reevaluate; are you not getting your HD because you chose the wrong degree for your intelligence? Or do you go out too much?
- Multiple Intelligences Go to School: Educational Implications of the Theory of Multiple Intelligences Author(s): Howard Gardner and Thomas Hatch Source: Educational Researcher, Vol. 18, No. 8 (Nov., 1989), pp. 4-10 Published by: American Educational Research Association The American Educational Research Association