Kids Multiple Intelligences

Excerpt from Kathy Fray’s book

“Oh Grow Up…Toddlers to PreTeens Decoded”

It is traditionally said that about four out of five people have an IQ (intelligence quotient) of between 80 and 120, with the average being 100. But the eerie reality is that research over the past 50 years has discovered a remarkable rise in the average IQ score, by around three points per decade. Thus, it could be hypothesised that the average intelligence 100 years ago would today be categorised as deficient — but obviously that can’t be completely true. However, certainly improved nutrition and education standards have improved intelligence, which is only common sense.

We know also without any doubt that intelligence is affected by both nature and nurture; that is, the most stable, loving, healthy childhood environments may impact a little on a low IQ; but even in the poorest and most underprivileged environments, naturally bright children can still fulfil amazing potential.

In 1983 Howard Gardner, a distinguished Harvard psychologist, first laid out in his book Frames of Mind the seven ‘dimensions of intelligence’; and followed it up in 2007 with the bestseller Five minds for the Future. Over time many other experts have expanded the list of multiple intelligences (and mindsets) needed by ‘successful’ human beings. Ideally our kids will be adept in all of them! Fingers crossed.

However, it’s not about obsessively demanding that our children are highly intelligent in all areas; it is about having an appreciation and awareness that to be truly ‘intelligent’ no longer just refers to having a high academic IQ. Multiple intelligences, or IQs, include:

  • Linguistic (Verbal) Intelligence: Language-smart people are good with words, spoken or written. Generally they read quickly, take in information easily and can express themselves in writing. Linguistic IQ is learned by listening, taking notes, discussing philosophy and debating politics; and incorporates reading, writing, spelling, telling stories, explaining, teaching and orating (speaking). Girls tend to score higher than boys.
  • Spatial (Visual) Intelligence: Spatial-smart people are good with visualisation (constructing things in their mind) and spatial judgement, have a good sense of direction, can see and turn around shapes in their mind’s eye, and can read maps. These people can be talented artists, engineers and architects. Boys tend to score higher than girls.
  • Logical (Mathematical or Numerical) Intelligence: Maths-smart people have analytical minds that are good with logic, abstractions, inductive and deductive reasoning. Mathematical IQ is learned through logical-numerical activities such as calculations, pattern recognition, science, economics, chess and computer programming.
  • Lateral Intelligence: Creative people with imaginative minds who can ‘think outside the square’ and ‘think laterally’ to solve problems.
  • Emotional Intelligence (EQ): EQ incorporates ‘intrapersonal’ and ‘interpersonal’ intelligence, along with stress management, adaptability and general mood. A person with high EQ is good at understanding how other people feel and think.
  • Social Intelligence: The ability to empathise and work with others —decreed by some to be the most important form of intelligence.
  • Kinaesthetic (Bodily Control) Intelligence: Body-smart people who are adept at performing physical activities, including those requiring fine motor dexterity. Kinaesthetic IQ is learned through bodily activities, such as building and making things, rather than learning visually (reading) or verbally (being told). These people can be our athletes, dancers, actors, surgeons, builders and artisans.
  • Musical Intelligence: Rhythm-smart people who have tone and pitch. Musical IQ is learned through formal lessons, music composition, playing musical instruments and singing. These people are our musicians and singer-songwriters.
  • Naturalist Intelligence: Nature-smart people who are sensitive to nature, with the ability to grow plants and nurture animals, including caring for and taming animals. These people are our farmers, zoologists, veterinarians, herbalists, gardeners and conservationists.
  • Intrapersonal (Self-Understanding) Intelligence: Self-aware people who understand their own motivations and can control their emotions. A high level of this IQ typically shows an assertive, introvert perfectionist who is self-reliant and so learns best when left alone. These are our psychologists, philosophers and theologians.
  • Interpersonal (Understanding Others) Intelligence: Socially smart people who can communicate well with others. A high level of this IQ typically shows itself as a sensitive extrovert, who has empathy for others’ feelings and motivations, and learns best working in a team. These are people who can be responsible for others, such as our social workers, managers and politicians.
  • Existentialist Intelligence: Universe-smart people who have the ability to ask profound questions and reflect about life, death and ultimate realities.
  • Spiritual Intelligence (SQ): This is becoming a formidably popular term. SQ incorporates self-esteem, creativity and gratitude.
  • Fluid Intelligence: The ability to see, interpret and manipulate relations between things — regardless of experience or practice.
  • Crystallised Intelligence: The knowledge we acquire through experience and putting thoughts into practice.
  • Disciplinary Mind: The ability to master the major schools of thought, such as science, mathematics and history.
  • Synthesising Mind: The ability to integrate ideas from different fields and to be able to communicate it to others.
  • Creating Mind: The ability to discover new phenomena and to clarify problems and questions.
  • Respectful Mind: The ability to appreciate the differences among human beings.
  • Ethical Mind: The ability to fulfil one’s personal responsibilities as a human being.
  • G-type Intelligence: An overall general intelligence of perceptual organisation, working memory, processing speed, verbal comprehension and the ability to overcome distraction.

I would like to build on this base with four additional intelligences our children of today must possess:

  • Environmental IQ: Today, ‘environmentalism’ is no longer just the work of activists, as it has become an everyday concern for regular people who are ‘going green’. Our children need a core appreciation of the major environmental issues, such as global warming.
  • Cosmopolitan IQ: Today, we live in a multicultural and multi-ethnic world, where globally five out of six people our kids meet will be religious, and two out of three won’t be Christian. Our children today need a sophisticated broad-based understanding of the major traditional religions of the world.
  • Old Age-New Age IQ: Today, we live in a Western world where there is an en masse humanistic movement, renowned for its rejection of dogmatic doctrine, and its embracing of human-potential philosophies seeking ‘universal truths’. Our children today need a fundamental grounding in the diverse topics of old age-new age trends.
  • Streetwise IQ: Statistically, half our teens will experiment with an illegal recreational drug, but some, especially “P” (crystal meth) are significantly more heinously addictive. Our preteens today must have the street-smarts to know the difference before they become teens — such knowledge saves lives!
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