Born to Dance?

A friend recently told me how happy she was to know that all of the students in her young daughter’s class had been tested to determine their strongest forms of intelligence.

As a parent, she had received the full assessment. Interestingly enough, the teacher only received the aggregated results of all students. There was great value in terms of knowing how her teaching could best accommodate the particular ratios in her classroom. However it wasn’t important for her to know the specifics of each child’s test.

A well informed and involved parent, my friend’s daughter’s results weren’t all that surprising. She was already attuned to, and was supporting, her daughter’s exceptional musical abilities as well as her unusually advanced bodily-kinesthetic intelligence. She had been enjoying music lessons, ballet, and gymnastics from a very young age.

Like many, my friend was aware that people are often smart in different ways. According to the theories advanced by Dr. Howard Gardner of Harvard University,  rather than a single, generalized intelligence that can be described by an IQ score, Gardner believes we have multiple intelligences (MISs).  He believes there are eight different types of intelligence; musical, interpersonal, logico-mathematical, linguistic, spatial, intrapersonal, bodily-kinesthetic, and naturalist.  He later suggested that existential and moral intelligence may also be worthy of inclusion. Although Gardner and others can clearly distinguish the differences between intelligences, Gardner warns against the idea of labeling learners with a specific intelligence as each individual has their own unique blend of intelligences and should never be restricted to one.

Not surprisingly, these intelligences go beyond the primary forms of intelligence generally measured in our school systems - the two dealing with words and numbers. 

Sadly, when school systems focus primarily on the intelligence dealing with words and numbers, the different areas of intelligence of a child may not be recognized or rewarded.  A child’s musical ability, mechanical skills, or talent for leadership may go unnoticed.

My friend’s daughter is an example of a child with musical intelligence who is sensitive to the essential elements of music - pitch or melody, rhythm and timbre or quality of tone.  One of the earliest talents to emerge, a child with musical talent will be able to sing on key, keep a beat, compose her own songs, and remember music she has heard.

Interpersonal intelligence is the ability to distinguish differences among people, to pick up on their vibes and perceive their different moods, temperaments, and motivations.

Logico-mathematical intelligence is the intelligence necessary to work in the world of logic, computers, or mathematics. This would include the ability to think conceptually, to investigate relationships in the physical world by experimenting, and to explore more abstract relationships.

Not surprisingly, linguistic intelligence is the talent for using language to express verbal and written meaning. Reading and writing, and therefore school in general, will be much more appealing for students with this type of intelligence.

Spatial intelligence deals with good visual memory – the ability to recognize shapes and to mentally modify a visual image. This kind of intelligence is important for architects, inventors, painters, and sculptors.

Intrapersonal intelligence is the ability to recognize and sort out one’s own feelings. Young children with this type of intelligence will be able to talk insightfully about their own experience and feelings and can later translate this intelligence into roles as poets or artists. Although they may prefer to work alone, some choose to use their understanding of themselves to work with others as a therapist or counselor.

Bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence relates to the capacity for using one’s body. It isn’t your imagination, some people simply are more coordinated and have better motor skills. Potential athletes, actors, dancers , and my friend’s daughter have this kind of ability.

Those with naturalist intelligence/b> are good at recognizing patterns and categories in the natural world.

The bottom line is that everyone has their own unique combination of smarts. While I will never be a whiz at math, it’s reassuring to know there are other stronger types of intelligence within each of us.

Posted on 06-06-15

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