Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Open the Package

Today is Wednesday, April 17, 2013. 

"Everyone is gifted – but some people never open their package."  ― Wolfgang Riebe, 100 Quotes to make you think

As a former public school educator, I have to clarify up front that I'm not suggesting that Gifted and Talented (GT) Education programs be eliminated, and I'm not suggesting that there are no especially gifted students.  Schools are set up to encourage academics, and that mainly involves only three out of nine types of intelligence identified by developmental psychologist Howard Gardner.  Therefore, students who are identified as "gifted" in schools are those who excel in the traditional senses of logical/mathematical intelligence, linguistic intelligence, or visual/spatial intelligence.  These days, kids with a high degree of talent in music and art are also chosen to participate in special programs to encourage them to make the most of their talents. 

However, that use of the word "gifted" in today's quote is  not limited to the kind of intelligence that can be measured by an IQ test.  Let's go back to Howard Gardner's nine intelligences and look at their difference.  They are presented in no particular order of priority.  (Click on the diagram below to get a larger, readable version of it.)

 1.  Logical/mathematical intelligence: the ability to do mathematical calculations and to think abstractly and conceptually.  People with this intelligence love to solve puzzles, do experiments, and ask cosmic questions. They like to see patterns, play strategy games, divide things into categories, and see relationships between things.  Mathematicians, scientists and detectives are gifted with this type of intelligence.

2.  Linguistic intelligence:  the ability to express ideas well in words and to explain things clearly to others.   People with this intelligence can appreciate complex meanings and connotations of words, and they often have highly developed auditory skills. They like to play with language.  They love to play word games, read, and write poetry or stories.  Poets, novelists, journalists, and effective public speakers are gifted with this type of intelligence.

3.  Visual/spatial intelligence: the ability to think in terms of physical space in three dimensions.  People with this intelligence are very aware of their environment.  They like to do jigsaw puzzles and mazes, read maps, build models, draw pictures and diagrams, and daydream.   Sailors, pilots, sculptors, painters, and architects exhibit this type of intelligence.  I think inventors are in this category, as well.

4.  Musical intelligence:  the ability to discern pitch, rhythm, timbre and tone.  People with musical intelligence can recognize, create, reproduce, and reflect on music, but they are also sensitive to all types of sounds in their environment, whether it is called music or not.   Composers, conductors, instrumental musicians and vocalists are gifted in this way.  So are sensitive listeners.   

5.  Bodily/kinesthetic intelligence: the ability to control the movements of the body, manipulate objects, and use a variety of physical skills.  These people have a sense of timing, and can perfect their skills by means of a unique mind/body connection.  Athletes, dancers, surgeons, and craftspeople of all types are gifted with this type of intelligence. 

6.  Interpersonal intelligence: the ability to understand and interact effectively with other people.  The folks with interpersonal intelligence can communicate well both verbally and non-verbally, and they are sensitive to the moods and temperaments of others.  Teachers, social workers, actors and politicians are gifted with this type of intelligence.   (This is why, by the way, teachers are not necessarily great mathematicians, artists, writers, musicians or athletes.  They may do well in one of these areas, but their most important skill is being able to communicate with others.)  These people typically have a lot of friends, and do well in group activities.  They are natural leaders among their peers, and are considered to have "people smarts" or "street smarts."  Sometimes this type of intelligence is called "emotional intelligence."

7.  Intra-personal intelligence: the ability to understand oneself and one's own thoughts and feelings.  Those with intra-personal intelligence are in touch with their feelings and can express their goals clearly.  They have strong intuitive skills and generally express strong self-motivation and willpower.  They have a lot of self-confidence and are often highly opinionated.  They can appreciate what is often called "the human condition."   As such they make great philosophers, spiritual leaders, and psychologists.  These people often seem very shy as children, but love to work independently.

8.  Naturalist intelligence: the ability to discriminate among living things (plants and animals) and a sensitivity to natural phenomena, such as clouds and rock configurations.  The people with this sort of intelligence were the successful hunters and gatherers in olden times. They are the farmers of today.  I suspect that those who knew the medicinal value of natural substances in times past were also in this category, so I would add herbalists and certain healers to the list of people gifted in this area.  Today, botanists, zoologists, gardeners, veterinarians, beekeepers, and chefs are also gifted with this intelligence.

9.  Existential intelligence: sensitivity and a capacity to tackle the deep questions of human existence, such as the meaning of life, why we die, and how life was created.  This is a relatively new category of intelligence, but I suspect that it may be more prevalent in future generations.  I also suspect that those with this type of intelligence may be the ones who manage to retain and expand on the function of the pineal gland.  I think that these will be the people who are most likely to make a conscious connection between themselves as Soul and their physical, emotional and mental bodies, so that they can bring their Soul wisdom to bear in their physical lives.

Most people have a couple of areas that they are pretty good in, and everybody has at least one.  All of us have all of these intelligences, but we exhibit them to varying degrees.  We are all better at some than others.  

If you want to know which of the nine intelligences you shine in, you are invited to take this short, 10-question Multiple Intelligence Test at, or this 56-question Multiple Intelligence Assessment.  If your score surprises you, perhaps you are one of those who has not yet opened your gift package.  If you knew you would score highly in a given area, what have you done with that gift?  Are you happy with that, or do you feel you could accomplish even more?

I was doubtful that the 10-question test could assess my abilities, but sure enough, I scored high on linguistic intelligence.   The common characteristics of this type of intelligence are listed as follows:
  • Good at explaining things to others
  • Able to use humor when telling stories
  • Strong ability to listen and remember spoken information
  • Understands both the literal and figurative meaning of words
  • Able to use language in many different ways, such as to entertain, to persuade and to inform
  • Strong grammar skills. 
The longer assessment didn't take that much time, either, and the results were similar, although a little more complete.  I scored highest in language (duh!) with musical intelligence coming in second and intra-personal (self) intelligence third.  No surprises.  

That's why I write this blog.  :-)

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