Something that teachers know can help students be better learners! Much of their education revolves around understanding various theories and approaches to do what they do well. One such theory from a psychologist named Howard Gardner promotes an idea of multiple intelligences, or eight different “brain skills”, that describe how the mind works with information. Multiple intelligences play a big part in how “light bulb moments” happen for people, like how following a math formula is understood, or how the correct spelling and definition of vocabulary words just click. Every student has a unique degree of strength and weakness with every skill, and they even relate to other interests, which is fundamental to learning.
Edutopia.com offers more background on multiple intelligences, a quiz to discover an individual's brain skills, and ways these skills can be used to make studying more effective and personal. Here is a preview of Gardner's eight multiple intelligences broken down as brain skills:
- Verbal-linguistic intelligence relates to the brain processing information through reading, writing, and speaking. People inclined with this brain skill both learn and work well with these tasks. They learn things better through reading something in print, and prefer writing-based assignments or giving speeches.
- Logical-mathematical intelligence relates to the brain processing information through math, symbols, and reasoning. People adept with this skill may be “walking calculators”, or very organized to help focus on how to get to a solution to a problem.
- Visual-spatial intelligence is like imagination; This brain skill relates to seeing things with your mind. This skill equips artists and engineers as they envision an intended end result of a project.
- Musical intelligence relates to the brain's acuity with sound. With this skill, the brain is more receptive to information presented with rhythmic or melodic qualities. Sounds are also better recognized, produced, and even interpreted with this mental skill. Of course, many musicians would be gifted in this skill set, though the same principle is in action when remembering things like the tune used to sing the alphabet or songs from Schoolhouse Rock.
- Naturalistic intelligence relates to brain skills analyzing the natural world. These skills incline people to be more discerning of plants, rocks, weather, and living things. While this brain skill is an asset for working with scientific subjects, Sherlock Holmes and most detective characters benefit from it too as they derive clues and solutions from observing, analyzing, and deducing ideas from all kinds of evidence.
- Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence relates to the brain and physical activity. With this skill, the brain best retains information when its associated with body movement of some kind. Athletes, actors, and dancers are the traditional considerations for these skills, but the same principle applies even to simpler gestures that are given a connection to something, like dancing to I'm a Little Teapot.
- Interpersonal intelligence relates to deep understanding of people and social situations. Anyone who identifies as a “people person” likely has a knack for this brain skill. They are collaborative, they build relationships, resolve conflicts, and recognize more than just faces and names of a person.
- Intrapersonal intelligence relates to an understanding of self. Someone with high personal intelligence may be more driven in life as they are well-aware of their own goals, beliefs, motivations, and emotions.
Teachers often develop lessons and assignments that cater to the multiple intelligences, but students can just as well develop their own successful study habits by understanding how to use their brain skills. Besides mastering the content, tapping into multiple intelligences can spark creativity and build interest as students learn and work “outside the box” to merge mental skills and study subjects. Both the task of studying as well as the topic being studied is made more enjoyable!