Concept: 7 Intelligences
“I am so Smart. SMRT…. I mean SMART.” (Homer Simpson.) Have you ever met a really smart person, a doctor or an astrophysicist, that was just a plain idiot? I mean, how can a man with that many letters after his name not know how to pump gas? It’s just not that hard. It’s incredibly hard to convince someone that you have a firm grasp of string theory while your fly is down.
Well, as it happens, your mom was right when she told you in high school that different people are good at different things. Unfortunately, this was usually after a particularly embarrassing and/or traumatizing event. As it turns out, a bunch of philologists came up with the idea that there are 7 different kinds of intelligence (a few of which you are probably pretty good at using.)
- Verbal – the ability to use words
- Visual – the ability to see things in your mind
- Physical – the ability to use your body well
- Musical – the ability to understand and use music and rhythm
- Mathematical & logical – the ability to apply logic to systems and numbers
- Introspective – the ability to understand thoughts and feelings in yourself
- Interpersonal – the ability to relate well to others (people smarts)
The best way to get to the bottom of this is simply to point out the kids in your high school who were good at different things.
Verbal – This is the kid in the drama club, the kid who actually liked Shakespeare and didn’t have to lie about it just to impress girls. This is the kid whose yearbook quote referenced someone you have never heard of. He’s on the debate team, and actually does fairly well with meeting girls. He grows up to be a story teller. Sometimes people really like him, sometimes they don’t, but he knows just the right words to describe them all.
Visual – This is the artist. He’s in the audio visual club, if not the president and founder of it. He is very good with spaces, and knows how long something is without having to measure it. He might grow up to be an engineer.
Physical – This is the athlete, the jock, the guy who used to pick on me. Now, it’s not that their muscles are bigger than mine, or that they are more flexible, although this didn’t help me either… It’s that their brain is actually wired a little better to make them know exactly where every part of their body is at any given moment. They know where and when they have to place their hand in order to catch the baseball just past third base and get the girl. These guys are also really good dancers, although sometimes they won’t admit it.
Musical – This one is pretty obvious. He’s in the band. He also has a very good sense of rhythm in speech.
Mathematical and Logical – Dorks! Nerds! Man, I was one. I still am. I learned computer programming just for fun. This type of person is obviously very good at math. They are the engineers of this world. They are the astrophysicists.
Introspective – This is the Goth kid. They know exactly what and how they think. They spend a lot of time thinking about their own feelings, and they are self-motivated…typically a leader of themselves.
Interpersonal -This is the class clown. This is the kind of kid that the teacher can’t help but think is funny. He knows just what to say to weasel himself out of trouble and get you into it. He is pretty good with girls. He has the ability to coordinate other people to do his work for him.
You probably noticed that you are good at 3 or 4 of these and really good at 1 or 2. Excellent, now you know what comes easily to you. So, the secret is this: take what you’re not good at, and turn it into something you are good at…and be creative.
Let’s say you have to memorize these peoples’ names: Jim, Bob, Eliot, Samantha, Carmon, Jill, and Ian. This is how people with different talents would chose to remember the names.
Verbal: Makes up a creative story about all the people and their names, or uses a gnomonic device. J.E.S.B.I.C.J. Just. Eat. Salad. Because. It’s. Crunchy. Juices. Or Jim, Eliot, Samantha, Bob, Ian, Carmon and Jill.
Visual: Pictures a creative and beautiful scene/ picture with everyone and their names put together. Like picturing Jim with J.I.M. written in stencils on his forehead.
Physical: Pictures the people in a specific location they were standing and their name hovered around them. “When I met Jill she said ‘Hi, I’m Jill.’ Then she flicked her hair to the left and shook hands with me with her right hand with a very soft grip.”
Musical :Makes up a creative song with all their names. Bob is a slob. The name Eliot has an interesting rhythm when said out loud.
Mathematical and Logical: Comes up with a mathematical system to memorize names, like Samantha has 8 letters and S is the 19th letter in the alphabets: thus 8-19. This is easy to memorize for this sort of person, because 8*2+3= 19. Then take the outside numbers of this equation and you get 8-19. 8 letter name, 19th letter. Samantha.
Introspective: Associates the person with the feeling they get from that person. Jill makes me feel anxious.
Interpersonal: Associates that person with something funny or interesting about that person, like Bob has a stupid hair cut, but a good sense of humor.
This particular system of 7 Intelligences may not be the beginning and end of how people think. The important thing to know is that different people think in different ways. They look at problems from completely different angles. Fortunately, problems themselves can be solved in more than one way. We learn from this not to treat two people the same way, and not to look at one problem in only one way.
People are different. No two people have the same DNA. No two people think the same. No two people even smell the same. You will probably use a combination of things to learn. Feel free to experiment with different methods and make it your own.
If you’re interested in more tricks for your memory, mind mapping is worth googling, the book “Your Brain the Missing Manual” is worth buying, and speed reading is always fun to brag about at parties. Something they all share in common is that they use emotion. That’s the way we learn, by being afraid, angry, happy or excited. The last thing you want to do is memorize something and not care about it. So when you’re memorizing the Gettysburg address, feel strongly about it. Connect with the sights and sounds and places of it. Listen to the rhythm of the words. Love the fact that Abraham Lincoln used the word “score” when he could have just as easily said 87. Feel what Lincoln must have felt, and know what it must have been like to stand in a crowd and listen to this speech for the very first time.