We’re all used to hearing about what it means to be smart. We’re told from the time we’re little kids that only smart people score well on tests and get good grades, and that academic performance is a direct indicator of your intelligence.
It’s a damaging myth that’s been propelled time and again and weighs heavily on school children and adults, crippling them under the pressure of aspiring to achieve it. It’s unfair and a blatant dismissal of the other talents, skills and forms of intelligence that many of us exhibit.
However, a psychologist and developmental expert named Howard Gardner proposed alternative forms of intelligence that are a lot more comprehensive.
Some of Gardner’s types of intelligence are:
You know how, when you look at your kids’ interest in buildings, visuals and spaces and can almost see them graduating with a degree in architecture? That’s what this intelligence implies. It brings a sense of depth, the ability to view and conjure things for what they are and what they can be, in terms of structure, space and set up.
This is a type of intelligence most people struggle to develop for most of their lives. It’s a sense of clarity and understanding of your own actions, behaviors and choices, including the ability to self-reflect.
Some people have an affinity for animals, plants and other elements of nature. We know them as animal lovers, green-thumb owners, ‘outdoorsy types’ and it’s true too. In fact, this is a very special kind of intelligence that allows people to connect with the world outside.
Language comes easily to human beings, because it’s what we use to communicate with each other; but there are always going to be people who are so much better at it than the rest of us. They can communicate, verbalize, pen down even the hardest thoughts and emotions and experiences.
Ever marveled at the way dancers and contortionists, yogis or athletes move? Their graceful yet swift, controlled movements, bends, twists, jumps and hops are all a result of the bodily-kinesthetic intelligence they possess.
Many of us struggle with basic social interactions and picking up on social cues, but there are people, including very little children who can somehow mingle into crowds, charm their way through life and talk to strangers, all the while balancing relationships with the people around them. Interpersonal intelligence is a gift that a lot of people don’t recognize for its worth!
Of course, we have those who are incredibly gifted at mathematics, logical reasoning, science and fact-based content. It’s the most commonly accepted form of intelligence, lauded for the results it yearns, but these people are also great at problem-solving in day to day situations.
We all know that not all of us are contenders to be the next American Idol or part of a chart-topping band that goes into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. However, there are people who are naturally gifted musicians and ‘have an ear’—well that ear comes from possessing musical intelligence!
Events in our life can have us questioning the meaning of everything, our purpose on earth, etc. etc. but there are some of us who are consistently wondering these things. This is known as existential intelligence and should not be dismissed for its value. All the greatest thinkers, philosophers and intellectuals have thought about the same questions that you might find annoying when your 5-year-old asks them.
It’s important for parents to acknowledge and accept that there’s no cookie-cutter form for intelligence. These may vary across siblings too! At our child-care center in Lenexa, we try to do our best to work according to each child’s special strengths and talents.
Learn more about our preschool and after-school programs.