Intelligence is often defined by performance in an examination or grades at school, but at Nord Anglia Education we understand it goes beyond that. Although having useful knowledge and skills does contribute to a person’s intelligence, psychologist Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences suggests that there’s more to being intelligent than simply being good at maths and English or learning a second language.
At our schools, we deliver a curriculum where children can develop these nine types of intelligence and learn their strengths and weaknesses, helping them understand their place in the world and decide which career they would like to pursue. In this blog, we will discuss the nine types of intelligence listed in Gardner’s research in more detail, and list the characteristics of each to help people understand which of the nine types of intelligence they possess.
Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences proposes that humans are not born with all the intelligence they will ever have, and that everyone processes information in different ways. In other words, we continually learn and develop in different ways throughout our lives, even after we finish formal education.
Gardner does not define intelligence as one single, general ability, but instead he divides it into nine different intelligences. While someone might be particularly strong in one area, such mathematical intelligence, they will actually possess a range of abilities across several intelligence types.
Howard Gardner’s nine types of intelligence include:
Perhaps the most obvious of the nine types of intelligence, logical-mathematical intelligence refers to someone’s ability to solve mathematical problems, spot trends and patterns, and understand relationships. If someone possesses logical-mathematical intelligence it means that order and sequencing feature greatly in their thinking process and they can think conceptually and abstractly.
You have high logical-mathematical intelligence if:
Interpersonal intelligence or emotional intelligence refers to the link between intelligence and emotions. Someone with interpersonal intelligence is good at sensing other people’s emotions and reading their motives, this can be linked to both verbal and non-verbal communication skills.
You have high interpersonal intelligence if:
Musical intelligence is the most self-explanatory of the nine types of intelligence, it refers to someone’s ability to sense rhythm and sound and use this to create music.
You have a high level of musical intelligence if:
Visual-spatial intelligence refers to people’s ability to view or visualise the world in its three dimensions. When discussing visualising the world in 3D, it involves the following capabilities:
Mental imagery – being able to draw up an image or picture without an external stimulus, drawing from memories or previous experience. In other words, the detail of someone’s imagination.
Spatial reasoning – being able to think about objects in 3D and draw generalisations despite having limited information. Mention a pyramid, and people with visual-spatial intelligence will be able to visualise how that pyramid will look from the front or the top.
Image manipulation – being able to visualise changes to an image before they have been implemented. For example, an artist visualising how their picture will look before they have drawn it.
Artistic skills – being able to create artwork, this also includes graphic skills.
Visual-spatial intelligence and creativity work hand-in-hand, drawing on an active imagination to produce impressive visual work.
You have high visual-spatial intelligence if:
Bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence refers to mind and body co-ordination and is very important in athletes. Athletic ability isn’t often referred to as intelligence, but kinaesthetic intelligence is measured on someone’s ability to use their physicality to manipulate objects and other elements around them.
You have high bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence if:
Extra-curricular and sports activities are a fantastic way of improving your bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence. These activities not only provide a space to develop practical sport skills, but also develop important social skills and generally boost academic performance.
Great careers for people with bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence include physical therapist, dancer, athlete, coach, fitness instructor, gym owner, actor, mechanic or carpenter.
Naturalist intelligence refers to the ability to read and understand nature. Having sensitivity to the non-living elements of all living things is considered “nature smart”.
You have high naturalist intelligence if:
Existential intelligence refers to deep sensitivity and people’s ability to handle deep questions such as the meaning of existence, it’s one of the most complex of the nine types of intelligence listed in Gardner’s research. People with existential intelligence are not only comfortable talking about these serious questions but also strive to find the answer.
You have high existential intelligence if:
This article should help you better understand the nine types of intelligence and where your own strengths and weaknesses lie. If you’d like to learn more about how we consider the different types of intelligence at Nord Anglia Education, you can explore our school curricula and unique learning approach on our website.