The purpose of this topic is not to devalue or denigrate a form of intelligence or to create childish and senseless dissensions between any intelligence type.
The aim of this post is, on the contrary, to value each intelligence as I believe there is no hierarchy in the intelligence types and that they all should be perceived to their right value.
My school nightmare. Sounds familiar?
I am eleven years old. I’m nervous because the math teacher is about to return the test results.
I am even more nervous because she always sorts our copies from the worst to the best. I find it humiliating. I never understood why teachers did this.
The positive is that I don’t have to wait very long, my copy being the worst! The negative is that I feel so embarrassed. As I am terrible in math, I feel like an idiot.
Indeed, in my school, as well as within a lot of school systems, the path viewed as “excellence” with the “best students” is the scientific one.
When students are good at math, or science, in general, they are pushed towards prestigious and selective studies as they are seen as the most brilliant. Thomas Armstrong, in his book In Their Own Way, demonstrates that the school system only focuses on linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence.
People with other types of intelligence face difficulties in school and lose confidence because their intelligence is not as valued.
The more artistic, athletic, musical, and manual skills are less considered and less esteemed. Thus, I feel like an idiot, a feeling which lasts a really long time, even in the professional world…
Have you felt this at work?
When I was eleven years old, I felt embarrassed each time the teacher returned the math copies. Thirteen years later, I felt the same embarrassment. When I started working, I realized quickly that the “logical-mathematical” intelligence was more prized than others, i.e. interpersonal intelligence.
I suffered judgments and condescension from some managers. I felt the need to justify myself, to argue that I was not “stupid.”
I am coping, I am smiling, I am laughing, in short… I am pretending! But the reality is that these judgments feed my lack of self-confidence, and I feel bad.
It sent me back to the shame I felt thirteen years ago.
I felt compelled to say, “I assure you, I’m not stupid.” But why?
Did they feel compelled to defend themselves when they were unable to show any interpersonal intelligence? No, never.
That frustrated me, and I bet you have already felt the same. The reality is there are many intelligence types and no hierarchy.
The 8 types of intelligence.
Dr. Howard Gardner, a professor at Harvard University, developed the theory of multiple intelligences. In 1983, he wrote a book describing multiple intelligences and their meaning and proposed eight different types of intelligence to take into consideration a broader range of human potential. Here is a summary I found.
The ability to effectively use words and language whether written or spoken.
The ability to use logical reasoning to analyze and solve abstract problems. Ability to understand cause-and-effect relationships.
The ability to mentally visualize and manipulate spatial images. Appreciating creative arts, drawing, photography, aesthetics, crafts, building toys and learning history.
The ability to appreciate and understand sounds and music, the ability to capture rhythm and sounds
The ability to identify and distinguish differences in the natural world. A keen interest in animals, plants, geology, stars, hiking, and other aspects of nature.
The ability to skillfully and precisely control body movement and its interaction with other objects. Ability in physical activities, such as sports and dance.
The ability to recognize and be sensitive to other people’s moods, desires, and motivations. Knowing how to perceive, interact, and respond correctly to the temperament or desire of others.
The ability to recognize and be sensitive to his or her own moods. To have self-awareness and to act according to it.
These different types of intelligence are not intended to compartmentalize you, there are no rules or opposition, just as there is no hierarchy. You may think this is schematic or caricatured because intelligence is more complex, and it cannot be reduced to 8 categories. I agree, but it can even less be reduced to one category, and this theory has the merit of broadening our consciousness.
The question is not whether you are intelligent, but rather what your type of intelligence is, and that is what our education system should enhance.
Our school system has to change. Here’s why.
The school is the epicenter where everything starts. Our current education system hasn’t changed significantly since the industrial revolution. Logical and mathematical abilities were placed as higher importance, and it continues to be the case now: It’s time to shift away from this.
For instance, Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group and Albert Einstein had extreme difficulties in school. Albert Einstein was even called “retarded” by one of his teachers! They did pretty well, don’t you think? Many talents and intelligence do not fit into the criteria of the education system!
Once again, not having good grades at school does not mean you are less capable, but rather the learning system may have not supported you.
You must realize that you’re currently part of a system that’s based on guidelines set two centuries ago!
The American Institute asserted that our schools and culture focus most of their attention on linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence. However, we should place equal attention on individuals who show gifts in the other intelligence: the artists, architects, musicians, naturalists, designers, dancers, therapists, entrepreneurs, and others who enrich the world in which we live.
Unfortunately, many children who have these gifts don’t receive much reinforcement in school. Even worst, some of them end up being labeled learning-disabled.
It was 1983 when Dr. Howard Gardner underlined the different types of intelligence. A new century later, mentalities start to change. A few years ago, no one was talking about emotional intelligence, for example, and now interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, and emotional intelligence, are among the key skills of tomorrow.
It is time for them to evolve even faster.
It is time for everyone to be considered at his/her true value with his/her strengths, intelligence, talents, and abilities.
It is time to ensure that no student suffers from his/her difficulties in math or literature nor feels inferior, null, or less intelligent.
I am now an adult, and I wrote what I would have liked to read when I was an 11-year-old girl. I truly, sincerely, deeply hope you liked it!
You are unique in your strengths and your qualities. Therefore, follow your own path, trust yourself beyond your limiting beliefs and regardless of the judgment of others. Never censor yourself, never doubt again, because, one day, you too received a “horror” comment on a math copy.
Don’t let anyone question you or challenge your overall capabilities just because of your difficulty solving an equation.
As Albert Einstein stated, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
Whatever your dream is, go for it!