Multiple Intelligence : Find Your Strength

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“Can you imagine yourself as having stronger skills in some domains and weaker in others? Take the time to identify what you think you might be good at, and use this information to help you make your choices for education and career paths.”

At this time of year I get many referrals from high school students who are unsure about what education paths to take in their lives. In the UAE there are so many curricula, and subject selections to make within curricula, among many other choices that directly effect a student’s educational and career outcomes. Time and time again, I always issue the same advice: Experiment; find out what you like, and find out what you are good at.

How do I know what I like ?

  • Think about the things you enjoy in life, what kind of hobbies do you have? Do you enjoy engaging in practical activities or like relating to people? Or do you like to have a mix of both ?
  • Think about the subjects that you most enjoy in school. Are they language subjects or science-based subject? They might give you clues about subjects that you might like to know about in depth.
  • Ask your friends and family what kind of career they can see for you in the future. Does this opinion match up to your own? Do you have strengths that you didn’t know you had?

How do I know what I’m good at?

For centuries, psychologists have been trying to define human ability and the way in which we learn. When a student is trying to self-identify their own learning strengths, I think that it is most interesting to examine the learning theory presented by Howard Gardner (1999). In this theory, Gardner reminds us that our academic results in the school setting are, in actual fact, a small measure of our entire ability. Gardner outlines seven separate intelligences that people may possess in different: linguistic, logic-mathematical, musical, spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and kinesthetic. Gardner calls this theory ‘Multiple Intelligences Theory’, and he reminds us that we all have our own unique combination of strengths and weaknesses to work with. Read about the different types of intelligence below and deicde which you related most/least to:

Linguistic Intelligence is the ability to use words and language. Strong linguisticlearners have highly developed auditory skills and are generally elegant speakers. They think in words rather than in pictures. Good linguistic learners will have such skills as: listening, speaking, writing, storytelling, explaining, teaching, using humour, understanding the syntax and meaning of words, remembering information, convincing someone of their point of view, and analysing language usage. Students with strengths in this area might like such career paths as: poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician and/or translator.

Logic-Mathematical Intelligence is the ability to use reason, logic and numbers.These learners think conceptually in logical and numerical patterns, making connections between pieces of information. They are always curious about the world around them, they ask lots of questions and they like to do experiments. A person with good logic-mathematical intelligence might have such skills as: problem solving, classifying and categorising information, working with abstract concepts to figure out the relationship of each to the other, handling long chains of reason to make local progressions, doing controlled experiments, questioning and wondering about natural events, performing complex mathematical calculations and/or working with geometric shapes. They might successfully pursue such careers as: scientists, engineers, computer programmers, researchers, accountants, and/or mathematicians.

Musical Intelligence is the ability to produce and appreciate music.These people are musically inclined learners thinking in sounds, rhythms and patterns. They immediately respond to music, either appreciating or criticising what they hear. Many of these learners are extremely sensitive to environmental sounds (e.g. crickets, bells, dripping taps). Their skills might include: singing, whistling, playing musical instruments, recognising tonal patterns, composing music, remembering melodies, and understanding the structure and rhythm of music. Possible career paths for such a learner might include: musician, disc jockey, singer and/or composer.

Spatial Intelligence is the ability to perceive the visual. These learners tend to think in pictures and need to create vivid mental images to retain information. They enjoy looking at maps, charts, pictures, videos, and movies. People with good spatial intelligence might have such skills as: puzzle building, reading, writing, understanding charts and graphs, a good sense of direction, sketching, painting, creating visual metaphors and analogies (perhaps through the visual arts), manipulating images, constructing, fixing, designing practical objects, and interpreting visual images. They would enjoy such career paths as: navigators, sculptors, visual artists, inventors, architects, interior designers, mechanics and/or engineers.

Interpersonal Intelligence is the ability to relate and understand others. These learners try to see things from other people’s point of view in order to understand how they think and feel. They often have an uncanny ability to sense feelings, intentions and motivations. They are great organisers, although they sometimes resort to manipulation. Generally, they try to maintain peace in group settings and encourage co-operation. They use both verbal (e.g. speaking) and non-verbal language (e.g. eye contact, body language) to open communication channels with others. A person with good interpersonal intelligence might have such skills as: seeing things from other perspectives (dual-perspective), listening, using empathy, understanding other people’s moods and feelings, counselling, co-operating with groups, noticing people’s moods, motivations and intentions, communicating both verbally and non-verbally, building trust, peaceful conflict resolution, and establishing positive relations with other people. They might like to pursue such careers as: psychologist, counsellor, salesperson, politician, or business person.

Intrapersonal Intelligence is the ability to self-reflect and be aware of one’s inner state of being.These learners try to understand their inner feelings, dreams, relationships with others, and strengths and weaknesses. This person would be good at such things as: recognising their own strengths and weaknesses, reflecting and analysing themselves, awareness of their inner feelings, desires and dreams, evaluating their thinking patterns, reasoning with themselves, and understanding their role in relationship to others.

Bodily/Kinaesthetic Intelligence is the ability to control body movements and handle objects skilfully.These learners express themselves through movement. They have a good sense of balance and eye-hand co-ordination. (e.g. ball play, balancing beams). Through interacting with the space around them, they are able to remember and process information. You might notice that people with good kinaesthetic intelligence having such skills as: dancing, physical co-ordination, sports, hands on experimentation, using body language, crafts, acting, miming, using their hands to create or build, expressing emotions through the body. They might like to purse career paths as: athletes, physical education teachers, dancers, actors, fire-fighters, or artisans.

Did you relate to any of these more than others? Can you imagine yourself as having stronger skills in some domains and weaker in others? Take the time to identify what you think you might be good at, and use this information to help you make your choices for education and career paths. Albert Einstein once encouraged us to use our strengths when he said:’Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.’

Find that inner genius and let your strengths and abilities shine!