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In previous years, people thought of intelligence in a specific manner, and then, you're either intelligent (in the recognized manner) or not. In 1983, Howard Gardner, an American developmental psychologist, introduced the idea of multiple intelligences. He proposed that there are eight types of intelligence, and each one of them is independent of the other.

In current times, people now understand that each individual has a certain level and type of intelligence and it varies from the types others may have.

For example, a graduate of psychology may perform excellently when it comes to picking up on the emotions and motivation of his/her clients (interpersonal intelligence) but may totally flop when it comes to knowledge about his/her natural environment or outdoor subjects (naturalistic intelligence).

Every individual is born with some level of intelligence, but how sharp it gets is depends on how well it was developed. In this article, we are going to consider the eight types of intelligence, how they can be detected and developed.

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What is Intelligence?

In 2002, Dennis Garlick defined intelligence as "a single broad ability that allows a person to solve or complete many sorts of tasks, or at least many academic tasks like reading, knowledge of vocabulary, and the solving of logical problems". 

However, we have now realized that there are some problems with defining intelligence as just one general ability. We can sum up the problems by saying that when intelligence is thought of as something general, working effectively with diverse students is beyond teachers’ influence. 

According to Gardner, there are eight bits of intelligence. He also proposed that people have more than one capacity intellectually and all these intellectual capacities should be captured until the full range of all the abilities and talents are tapped. While a person might have good strength in spatial intelligence, the person might also be good in order areas such as musical, naturalistic, and even linguistic intelligence.

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Because when we view intelligence as a single, all-purpose, one size fits all ability, it's either a student has a lot of intelligence or does not have it at all. This negates the opinion that everyone is born with some level of intelligence and this will make strengthening the intelligence of such students a major challenge.

In recent years, schools have been testing the achievements of their students in a more diverse way. Drawing a conclusion that says intelligence is one way and you either have it or you don't, is considered troubling to many educators. 

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Why Teachers Need to Identify Student's Intelligence

It is very important for teachers to understand the overall abilities and achievement of their students. For instance, if a child has an IQ of 70, understanding and completing tasks in a traditional classroom is likely going to be very difficult for the student. Similarly, a child with an IQ of 130 may quickly lose concentration and be “bored” if left to complete tasks in the traditional classroom. 

When teachers understand the individual overall ability level of their students, they will better understand how these students can function best in an academic setting.

The teacher will also know what teaching approach to work with since they'll be more familiar with the cognitive strengths and weaknesses of these students.

This will allow the teacher to use methods of instruction that'll be easier to understand and the teacher will be able to diversify the lessons to cater to the unique intelligence of the students.

Read: 7 Steps to Building a Productive Learning Environment

For instance, when planning the lesson, the teachers can first highlight the objective and then identify one or two types of intelligence to adopt in teaching the lesson.  For example, the teacher could adopt a different intelligence on the days of the week to teach fractions. The teacher could use graphs and puzzles to demonstrate Logical-Mathematical intelligence, use body formation, and classroom movements to explain bodily-kinesthetic intelligence e.t.c. 

Another reason why it is important for teachers to know their students' type of intelligence is so they can individualize the instruction. That way each student learns from their point of strength.

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Types of Intelligence and How They Manifest in Children

  • Logical-mathematical intelligence

This focuses on an individual's ability to reason and think logically. People who have logical-mathematical intelligence are skilled at deductive reasoning, understanding complex and abstract ideas, and detecting patterns.

They are good at solving mathematical problems, and excellent when it comes to scientific investigations or identifying how different things relate to one another. This intelligence group is also good at understanding complex and abstract ideas.

They do not like subjective information, they prefer facts and data.

  • Linguistic intelligence

This type of intelligence focuses on a person's ability to acquire different languages easily, express themselves verbally, and achieve some goals using word formation. These individuals are good story writers, and good at reading and memorizing information. They can be persuasive when giving a speech and also make use of humor to tell stories. Just like the speakers and politicians.

  • Spatial Intelligence

This includes being aware of designs and patterns that exist in different spaces. People with visual-spatial intelligence are good at visualizing things. They are mostly good with maps, videos, charts, directions as well as pictures. They often enjoy drawing, painting, putting together puzzles e.t.c.

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  • Musical Intelligence

This type of intelligence involves being able to distinguish between different music patterns, sounds, and rhythms. They are good at performing (singing and playing musical instruments) and musical composition. They also have a good memory for remembering songs, notes, and tones. They are mostly instrumentalists and singers.

  • Bodily-kinesthetic Intelligence

People that fall under this type of intelligence know how to solve problems using their body and athleticism. They are good at body movement, physical control, and performing actions. People whose strength is in this area tend to have excellent dexterity and hand-eye coordination. They are skilled dancers and sportsmen who often memorize by doing rather than by seeing or listening. Also, they love to create.

  • Intrapersonal Intelligence

People with intrapersonal intelligence have a high level of self-awareness. They are excellent at being self-aware. They are aware and can control their own feelings, emotional states, and motivations.

The people with this intelligence seem to rather enjoy self-reflection and analysis, which includes exploring different types of relationships with others. It could be platonic or romantic. They also love to assess their individual strengths and weaknesses and daydream. They are fond of analyzing ideas and theories, they like to understand concepts, the reason or basis being a decision, motivation, or feelings. They are often the philosophers, theorists, and writers in society.

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  • Interpersonal Intelligence

Interpersonal intelligence involves some set of people's ability to understand and interact with other people irrespective of the time and place of meeting. They are good at starting conversations. These are skilled individuals who can assess emotions.

They can also feel or assess their desires and motivations, including the intentions of the people around them. They are skilled communicators verbally and nonverbally. They assess situations from different perspectives, they like to resolve conflicts, and they have positive energy. They are mostly the counselor, the salesperson, and the psychologist.

  • Naturalistic intelligence

The people with naturalistic intelligence include those with informed knowledge of their environment and the elements in nature. Although naturalistic intelligence is a recent addition to Gardner’s theory of intelligence. There was more resistance to it than there were for his original seven bits of intelligence.

However, Gardner believes individuals in this type of intelligence are more connected with nature and are often interested in exploring their environment, nurturing, and learning all they can about other species. These individuals are quickly aware when there is even a subtle change to their environments. They have an interest in zoology, botany, or biology and they enjoy hiking, camping, gardening. They're usually the biologist, gardeners, farmers, and conservationists of the society.

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How to Develop Different Types of Intelligence in Children


Both parents and teachers need to be involved in identifying the intelligence of their wards or students. The parents and the teacher should keenly observe how the students approach learning. Understanding this will help both parties determine how the learning environment for a particular student should be.

The teacher and the guardians will also be able to go beyond observing the learning style of the students to actually identify the type of intelligence the student leans towards.

As we have established that there are multiple intelligences, detecting where students fall under will give both educators and parents the opportunity to help the student develop almost all types of intelligence. In essence, the students will be prepared to become well-rounded learners and individuals earlier on in life.

Read: 9 Types of Educational Assessment

You can help your student or your child to develop their intelligence types by creating an environment for them to learn. However, it has to be an environment where the child seems very interested. To avoid an environment where the child seems tired or uninterested, allow the child lead the activity.

Here are some other things you can do as a guardian or an educator to develop the intelligence of a child

  1. Once you find out about the activity that your child or student is interested in, repeat those activities. The activities might seem boring to you but if the child enjoys them, repeat them.
  2. Teach your child or student from an early age that it is okay to make mistakes. Let them know that making mistakes is a part of learning and the more they keep practicing the better they become. Always offer words of encouragement to your student. 
  3. Encourage your child to get involved in active playtime. Activities such as jumping, running, and other exercises. Encourage them to do this other than sitting in front of the television or watching adults play or entertain themselves.
  4. Invest in varieties of toys and books on low shelves where your child can easily reach them. Don't allow them to have access to too many toys at a single time because that can overstimulate them. So, introduce these new toys to them one at a time. 
  5. Help them activate their senses of touching, seeing, tasting, smelling, and hearing. Let them explore objects and flavors. But ensure you focus on just one sense at a time.
  6. Converse a lot with your child or students while they explore. Talk to them about what they're doing currently and try to chip in one or two things
  7. Provide them with toys that allow children to see the cause-and-effect relationship. For example, getting a toy that allows them to push a button for a horse might not stimulate them as much as pushing a pan with a spoon and watching it move or hearing some noise.
  8. Work with your student or your child at their level of development. Provide activities that allow your child to choose the toys or tools to play and work with.
  9. Parents and teachers should work hand in hand. You can share ideas or solutions you think may work best for your child or student thereby ensuring the child grows into his/her full potential in the home, at school, and in life.

Conclusion

We have learned that intelligence is not a one-size-fits-all. Parents and teachers should understand that it is important to diversify instructions in order to cater to diversity in students’ ideas, talents, and abilities.

In the end, it may not be necessary to put a tag on childrens’ abilities, or intellectual strengths but it may be important to help them develop them. You can do this by providing important learning styles that benefit all types of intelligence and build the students’ skills. Parents and teachers should invest in their own development.

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