About fifteen years ago, Harvard researcher Howard Gardner wrote a book called Frames of Mind that challenged the common belief that people are born with a fixed intelligence that can only be discovered through IQ tests. Instead, Gardner said, there are at least seven distinct ways of being smart, and one can discover these ways by examining how people solve real problems and create meaningful products. These intelligences are as follows:
- Linguistic – the intelligence of words. A highly linguistically intelligent child likes to read, writes easily, tells great stories, and can memorize facts. This child needs such things as books, audio tapes, writing implements, writing paper, diaries, dialogue, discussion, debate. and stories.
- Logical-Mathematical – the intelligence of reasoning. A child that shows high levels of logical-mathematical intelligence, enjoys math and /or science, handles number problems easily, does well with brainteasers and logic games, and is attracted to logical patterns. This child needs such things as logical problems to explore and think about, science kits, math manipulatives, trips to science museums, and brainteasers.
- Spatial – the intelligence of pictures and images. The highly spatially intelligent child draws well, remembers visual details, thinks visually, and may be attracted to video games. This child needs such things as art activities, Lego materials, videotapes, movies, slides, imagination games , mazes, puzzles, illustrated books,and trips to art museums.
- Bodily-Kinesthetic – the intelligence of physical skill. The child that has high levels of bodily-kinesthetic intelligence likes to work with his hands, may be good athlete, needs to move in order to learn, and often gets “gut feelings” about things. This child needs such things as role play, drama, movement, building materials, sports, and physical games, tactile experiences, and hands-on-learning.
- Musical – the intelligence of melody, tone, and rhythm. The highly musically intelligent child enjoys listening to music, has a good sense of rhythm, often has a pleasant singing voice, and my play an instrument. This child needs such things as sing-along time, trips to concerts, musical instruments, music lessons, records and tapes, and opportunities to be in choir band.
- Interpersonal – the intelligence of getting along with other people: the strongly inter-personally intelligent child usually has many friends, enjoys socializing, shows empathy for others, and is generally quite cooperative. This child needs such things as friends, group games, social gatherings, community events, volunteer opportunities, cooperative learning, mentors, apprenticeships, and clubs.
- Intrapersonal – the intelligence of self-knowledge. The highly intra-personally intelligent child has a good sense of his personal strengths and weaknesses, possesses self-confidence, often sets goals for the future and is usually able to reflect upon past experience and learn from it. This child needs such things as secret places, time alone, self-paced activities, private hobbies, opportunities to make choices, and independent study.
It is important to understand that every child has ability in all seven of these areas. However, each child differs in the ways in which he expresses each ability. Gardner points out that starting in early childhood, children show “proclivities” for, or inclinations toward, one or more of the intelligences. For example, one child will spend a great deal of time rhythmically banging on pots and pans (showing early evidence of musical intelligence), while another will enjoy drawing (spatial intelligence), and still another prefers to engage in hands-on activities (bodily-kinesthetic and spatial intelligences).
Once a child enters school, however, there tends to be an emphasis upon two of the intelligences: linguistic and logical-mathematical. Schools focus most of their attention on reading, writing, math, and science. If a child has natural strengths n these areas, then he will probably do quite well in school. However, if he has difficulties with linguistic and logical areas, then he may well end up with the A.D.D or LD (learning disabled) label ( or both), even if he possesses high levels of ability in the other five intelligences. In my own research, I discovered that children with school problems most often showed particular strengths in those intelligences least honored in the classroom, particularly bodily-kinesthetic and spatial intelligence.
Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D.: The Myth of the A.D.D.Child, pp 92 – 94.