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Seven New Ways to Be Smart

By Royane Real

Imagine for a moment that you lived in a world where only people who were very skilled at musical ability were considered to be valuable. And in this world, only those people who were musically talented were considered to be intelligent. Everyone who didn't have musical ability was considered to be slow-witted and intellectually inferior.

In this imaginary world, only those people who were the greatest singers, composers, and instrumentalists could run for the office of president, or enter the upper levels of any corporation.

In a world like that, would you be one of the people who would easily succeed? Or would you be shut out of all the best opportunities?

If you had grown up in such a world, would you consider yourself to be intelligent? Would other people think you weren't very bright because you couldn't carry a tune?

If you happened to be very good at reading and mathematics in a world where only musical ability was regarded as valuable, would you decide that these other abilities you possess weren't important?

Do you think it would be fair that other people decided whether or not you were smart based only on this very narrow definition of intelligence?

What if you lived in a world where only athletic ability counted? Or a world where only artistic ability was respected?

You can easily see by these examples that deciding to value musical ability only, while disregarding other forms of intelligence, would be very unfair and quite unrealistic. And the same would be true if we decided that only artistic ability, or only athletic ability mattered.

Yet in a way, something similar does happen in the world we live in. In our world, and particulary in our schools, people tend to value one particular type of intelligence very highly, and they often regard other forms of intelligence as less valuable.

If you happen to be talented at reading, logic and mathematics, you likely did very well in school. You were probably be regarded as very intelligent by your teachers and your peers, and you grew up confident about your intelligence and your ability to succeed.

That is because in our current world, an aptitude for reading, logic and mathematics has been defined as synonymous with intelligence. When you take an IQ (intelligence quotient) test, this narrow range of abilities is what is measured, and then the score is said to be a measure of your intelligence.

So if you happen to do poorly at logic and language because your skills are elsewhere, these tests and our school systems may label you as someone who is not very intelligent.

Standard intelligence tests focus a lot on exploring and measuring a person's ability to understand logic, language and mathematics. But is that really the same as intelligence? Or is intelligence something broader than that?

Is there more than one kind of intelligence? How should we define intelligence? Can we really measure it? What is intelligence, really?

Several experts in the field of intelligence have proposed that we need to broaden our understanding of what intelligence really is, and the role it plays in successful living. If we define intelligence primarily as an aptitude for mathematical and linguistic/logical thinking, we may be missing other forms of intelligence that are also important.

A Harvard professor named Dr. Howard Gardner has spent many years studying the topic of intelligence in human beings. As a result of his studies, Dr. Gardner has proposed that our current beliefs about intelligence should be revised and expanded.

Dr. Gardner has suggested we consider at least seven different forms of intelligence.

These are:

  • verbal-linguistic

  • logical-mathematical

  • visual-spatial

  • musical

  • bodily-kinesthetic

  • social-interpersonal

  • intra-personal.

See if you can discover which of these forms of intelligence is strongest in you.

People who have a strong linguistic-verbal intelligence will respond in a deep way to language and words. They love the way that language sounds and the way that words can be put together to create moods and special effects. A person who is high in linguistic intelligence will get a deep sense of meaning and pleasure from the way that language is used.

Writers, poets, and editors have a very high degree of linguistic or verbal intelligence. People who exhibit a strong need to correct errors in grammar are also very strong in this trait.

People with logical-mathematical intelligence are logical and systematic. They are are very good at analyzing data and they can follow complex chains of ideas to reach a logical conclusion. These people favor reason over passion. People with logical-mathematical intelligence can become successful lawyers, mathematicians, computer programmers, and scientists.

Artists, decorators, fashion designers, sculptors, photographers and architects must possess strong visual-spatial intelligence to succeed in their fields. Among people who have this trait, some will have a glorious, passionate understanding of color. Others will very strongly respond to visual line, texture, or three-dimensional space.

A person with musical intelligence may not necessarily play or compose music, but he will be always be a passionate lover of music, getting far more out of the experience than an average person. Musical intelligence is an ability to understand and respond to music, not just as background noise, but with a capacity to get deep meaning from the interaction of melodies, textures and rhythms.

Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence is very high in those people who are athletes and dancers. It is also a great asset in actors. These people are extremely attuned to where all parts of their body are located in space and are able to exert very subtle yet powerful control over all their muscles.

People with a high degree of interpersonal intelligence are good at picking up cues to the emotions of others and understanding the emotional states of those around them. They are particularly good at empathizing with others, and they know how to comfort, inspire and lead people. This is a good trait to have in a political leader. It is also a desirable quality in teachers, therapists and salespeople.

Intra-personal intelligence is the ability to deeply know and understand oneself. It is the ability to analyze and assess one's innermost qualities and behaviors. This is a form of intelligence that may be found in philosophers and spiritual leaders.

These are seven basic qualities or abilities that may be considered as special forms of intelligence. Each of these can be highly developed in certain individuals and can be an important component of a person's success in life and career.

When you consider Dr. Gardner's expanded definition of intelligence, which forms do you think are especially strong in you? Which do you think are particularly weak?

When you went to school, did your educational experience address your intelligence strengths? Or did it target the areas in which you were weakest?

If you want to be successful in your schooling and your career, you will have the best chance to be successful if you choose a career that uses your strongest form of intelligence.

Does your present career make good use of your strongest form of intelligence?

About The Author
Royane Real is a science educator and writer of several self improvement books available at her site. This article is taken from her new book "How to Be Smarter - Use Your Brain to Learn Faster, Remember Better, and Be More Creative".


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