Multiple Types of Learning

Growing YearsAccording to multiple intelligences learning theory (1983 Howard Gardner), we are all intelligent beings, but in different ways. We learn in different ways and we express ourselves in different ways, as well. It is good to know we are all good at something. When children begin to understand how they are intelligent, they understand the balance of their own multiple intelligences and in turn, learn to value their individual strengths. However, we know that intelligence can change due to what we chose to do in life. Children who are not exposed to different learning areas do not understand all the choices that life can provide and they may have a difficult time learning new skills.

Linguistic intelligence (“word smart”) is the ability to think in words and to use language to express and appreciate complex meanings.  Linguistic intelligence is evident in poets, novelists, journalists, and effective public speakers.  Children with this kind of intelligence enjoy writing, reading, telling stories or doing crossword puzzles.

Logical-mathematical intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”) is the ability to calculate, quantify, consider propositions and hypotheses, and carry out complete mathematical operations, and enables us to perceive relationships and connections and to use abstract, symbolic thought; sequential reasoning skills; and inductive and deductive thinking patterns.  It is usually well developed in mathematicians, scientists, and detectives.  Children with logical intelligence are interested in patterns, categories, and relationships, drawn to arithmetic problems, strategy games and experiments.

Spatial intelligence (“picture smart”) is the ability to think in three dimensions.  Core capacities include mental imagery, spatial reasoning, image manipulation, graphic and artistic skills, and an active imagination.  Sailors, pilots, sculptors, painters, and architects all exhibit spatial intelligence.  Children with this kind of intelligence may be fascinated with mazes or jigsaw puzzles, or spend free time drawing or daydreaming.

Bodily kinesthetic intelligence (“body smart”) is the capacity to manipulate objects and use a variety of physical skills.  This intelligence also involves a sense of timing and the perfection of skills through mind–body union.  Athletes, dancers, surgeons, and craftspeople exhibit well-developed bodily kinesthetic intelligence.

Musical intelligence (“music smart”) is the capacity to discern pitch, rhythm, timbre, and tone, enabling us to recognize, create, reproduce, and reflect on music, as demonstrated by composers, conductors, musicians, vocalist, and sensitive listeners. There is often an affective connection between music and the emotions, and mathematical and musical intelligences may share common thinking processes.  Children with this kind of intelligence are usually singing or drumming to themselves and are aware of sounds others may miss.

Interpersonal intelligence (“people smart”) is the ability to understand and interact effectively with others, involves effective verbal and nonverbal communication, the ability to note distinctions among others, sensitivity to the moods and temperaments of others, and the ability to entertain multiple perspectives.  Teachers, social workers, actors, and politicians exhibit this intelligence.  Children with this kind of intelligence are leaders among their peers, good at communicating, understanding others’ feelings and motives.

Intra-personal intelligence (“self-smart”) is the capacity to understand oneself and one’s thoughts and feelings, and to use such knowledge in planning and directing one’s life.  It involves an appreciation of self, and the human condition.  It is evident in psychologist, spiritual leaders, and philosophers.  These children may be shy, but are very aware of their own feelings and are self-motivated.

Naturalist (“nature smart”) designates the human ability to discriminate among living things (plants, animals) as well as sensitivity to other features of the natural world (clouds, rock configurations).  This ability was valuable in our evolutionary past as hunters, gatherers, and farmers and continues to be central in roles as botanist or chef.  It is also speculated that much of our consumer society exploits the naturalist intelligences, which can be mobilized in the discrimination among cars, sneakers, kinds of makeup, and the like.

Existential Intelligence expresses sensitivity and capacity to tackle deep questions about human existence, such as the meaning of life, why do we die, and how did we get here.