God made us all different and unique for a purpose. The purpose was to run the world efficiently! And for the all round well being of the world, He gave us all different types of abilities and talents to look after the myriad needs of the world. A scientist is as important to the world as is a painter, musician or writer. Each one of us serve a different but equally essential role in society, commonly aimed at making human life happy, materially as well as emotionally.
Indian Education System
Indian education system in the past laid stress mostly on two types of intelligence- mathematical and linguistic. Among these too mathematical intelligence was felt more important to succeed in life. Children were stressed to the extent of almost torture to grapple with these subjects when actually their interests lay somewhere else. Think about it! I was not good at Mathematics at school which was killing my confidence. But when I got to choose my subject of liking in college, I was the topper. There are so many successful, happy people around us who had been average students in the past. We only need to recognize our strengths and work on them. A balanced school curriculum is one which introduces all subjects to the children but gives them the space, motivation and opportunity to recognize and pursue their likings and strengths. Parents too should observe the child and motivate her/him in the fields of individual liking. Give them options according to their strengths. The current Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) system of the CBSE aims to attain this very goal by recognizing the fact that we all have naturally different talents, skills and likings. When a person does what he loves to do and loves what he does, obviously he will be more efficient and productive.
The theory of Multiple Intelligence is an important guide for parents and educators to recognize and bring out the best in each child. This theory is attributed to Howard Gardner, an American developmental psychologist. He propounded this theory of multiple intelligence in 1983 in his book, ‘Frames of mind- The theory of multiple intellingence’. According to Howard, every child possesses a different set of strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. Parents and teachers need to recognize these and encourage the child to improve on the skills of his liking while helping her to understand the essential basics of other subjects which she is not interested in. According to Gardner there are eight different types of intelligence. They are:
1. Linguistic intelligence
2. Logic-mathematical intelligence
3. Spatial intelligence
4. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence
5. Musical intelligence
6. Interpersonal intelligence
7. Intrapersonal intelligence
8. Naturalist intelligence
Another type of intelligence called ‘Existential intelligence’ is also cited by some psychologists.
Analyzing and Guiding a Child
A child usually possesses a combination of two or more of the above types of intelligence. When I analyze the likes, dislikes and abilities of my ten year old son, I find traces of almost all the intelligence types in different degrees. For example, he dislikes mathematics and finds it very confusing, but loves language and environmental science. He is shy, but loves outdoor team sports.
Children need to know the basics of every subject to understand the working of life and society, before deciding to specialize in one field. Taking the above example of my son, what should be my approach of educating him? As parents and teachers we have to introduce all subjects, to recognize the likings and strengths of the child. By the age of six, I knew he was strong in languages, has a good sense of humour, likes outdoor sports, but weak in mathematics. His school teachers encouraged him to participate in oration activities and creative writing. He enjoys these. In case of Mathematics, I need to be patient and think of different ways to make the subject simple for him because basic mathematics is essential. I need to give him sufficient time to understand a problem. At the same time I need to develop his confidence in himself by appreciating and encouraging his linguistic and sports skills. Of late, I find he is developing interest in natural things like wild life, geographical differences etc. He wants to see practically what he has learnt in school, the desert, sea, mountains everything and so everytime we plan our holidays in a way so as to introduce him to places which are geographically different.
Children need to be exposed to a wide range of subjects to explore. We need to guide the child gently to build their confidence. Sometimes in our zeal to make our kids all rounders we pressurize them unduely to excel in every field. While we do motivate the child where she has inherent talent, we tend to loose temper and use negative words and phrases in fields where they are weak. This leads to lack of confidence and self respect, which effects their overall behaviour.
Other Important Types of Intelligence
We are social beings. Whatever we do we need to interact with different people and face different situations. These need intelligence too. Our emotional and moral intelligence guides us how to handle our own as well as others emotions and situation. The art of dealing with difficult situations and people determines our place in society.
Read on for the characteristics of the different types of intelligence.