Sunday, 26 April 2009


Having claimed to be rather academic yesterday i thought I would talk about intelligence a little today.

When I studied to be a teacher we learnt a little about Learning Theory. Although all this information is out there I don't think it is generally well used.... It is as if in many cases what is known is not practiced in the classroom. Some of the best teachers use these theories either instinctively or from knowing and I don't wish to do them down but....

Once upon a time Howard Gardner came up with his theory of Multiple Intelligences. His theory is that we all have differing amounts of each of a set of intelligences. Intelligence tests tend to focus on certain specific types of intelligence but there is a whole range.

Linguistic: all things to do with words including reading and poetry
Logical / mathematical: the one for all those with skills in science and maths and games
Musical: all things to do with music including listening and composing
Spatial / visual: all things to do with images and construction
Kinaesthetic: all things to do with physical movement
Interpersonal: all things to do with other people such as communication and managing
Intrapersonal: all things to do with the self such as personal understanding or self motivation
Naturalistic: all things to do with the natural world such as classification and pattern recognisation.
Existential: ability to ask and think about the difficult questions, life, death, the universe and everything....

Some people have sooo much talent in one area but very little in others, we have all met genius level people who would struggle to wire a plug or cook a meal. Others have so much talent in an area such as music.

The thing is, although we all have a balance of the intelligences, they combine in different ways and have different focuses. For instance a music critic undoubtably must have musical intelligenc ebut may be unable to play or compose themselves.

This is all good, all of our intelligences are equally valid! So says Science! Except we all know that in the big bad world this just isn't so. Some sorts of intelligence are valued more than others. In school the focus is on a very narrow range of things that society deems important. Music and Religous Education (existensial) are often neglected in schools due to time.

I was lucky, my form of intelligence was well catered for in school, I flourished and became academic. But what of all those other children in my class, the ones whose intelligence didn't take an academic form?

The girl who was great at sport but never going to be quite good enough at the right sport to make a living?

The boy who was great at taking apart cars and became an mechanic?

The girl who loved to draw horses?

The boy who was very self contained and controled?

Did they feel valued? Did school do good things for them? Did they feel like they had a valid talent that could lead them towards a good and successfulc areer valued by society? Maybe, maybe not.

Just as there are some that didn't do so well on the genetic lottery and don't have a 'high' level of any of the intelligences, there are some who did rather well. I think I would have to consider myself as being someone who did pretty well. I haven't earnt these intelligences although I have worked hard to develop some of them. I don't feel that this makes me any better than anyone else. In many ways I would love to have a clear 'talent', it must make it easier to decide what to do, mustn't it?

I do also feel there is a gender divide in schools to. Boys are allowed to be top dog and everyone is comfortable with that. Girls however... not everyone is comfortable when it is a girl who is top dog. What do you do if you have a delicate, senstitive daughter who is average and a clever daughter who does few things in an average way? (except the kinaesthetic and interpersonal areas in my case - they are waaaayyy down my list)

I never felt that I had earnt my skills. I never felt that they were something to celebrate. I never felt that I entirely had the right to exploit them. My parents attempts to make us equal they taught me, if you do to well it makes people uncomfortable and that those who don't try get exactly the same reward, so why try?

My Dad always used to talk about saving money. I got a job at 15 and I started putting a bit of money away n my bank account, just like he said. My sister and I had both had bank accounts opened for us as babies and money put it. Before I was born, all the money was put in my sisters and after it was shared between us. When she did her GCSE's my parents made her account up to £500 in celebration of her success. When I did my GCSE's my parents put exactly the same amount in my account to make it up to £500. I worked for a proportion of that money, I went out and saved. My sister didn't work until she had to but yet she just got everything given to her. I have never saved since.

So where does this leave me? It leaves me with a whole bunch of talent, a dead end job that pretty much anyone could do and no money.


  1. *grin* Are you sure we're not the same person? After all, we've never been seen together....

    Of course, you know MY feelings on school..but its true - children who are not *valued* for who they are/what they can do, whatever that may be, learn to not value themselves..herein lies our problem. I suppose, the greatest gift we can give is to make sure that they don't require external validations to make them feel successful. That's where the whole no-praise philosophy comes into play - not one I'm completely comfortable with though...


  2. You are my soul sister of course!

    I am not sure about no-praise. I think praise should be given when due, to everyone. The difficult bit is recognising when that moment is. Encouragement is required...