New research is revealing that intelligence, rather than being unitary and describable by a number, is multidimensional and multifaceted.  In fact, the concept of someone being “intelligent” or “not intelligent” is fading.  A more accurate statement might be to describe how a person is intelligent in specific ways, the implication being that it is possible to be highly “intelligent” in one area, yet severely lacking in another.  Two theories in particular have influenced DISCOVER philosophies — Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences and Robert Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory.  In creating DISCOVER, Dr. Maker and her colleagues combined and expanded these two theories, adding a strong component of problem solving, to form educational instruments that are capable of identifying an individual’s unique pattern of natural strengths.  A summary of both theories, as adapted into the DISCOVER research, appears below.

Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences

     Dr. Gardner of Harvard’s Project Zero defines human intellectual competence as needing to entail a set of skills of problem solving enabling the individual to resolve genuine problems or difficulties…and must entail the potential for finding or creating problems - thereby laying the groundwork for the acquisition of new knowledge.  He describes eight relatively distinct intelligences that we all possess to some degree.  All are necessary in all cultures, and all are used in our daily lives.

     Linguistic Intelligence includes such activities as reading, writing, and speaking, each of which has its own distinct and measurable characteristics.  A child, for example, might have a great deal of difficulty writing a story, but when asked to tell the story verbally, can do so with eloquence and detail.  The DISCOVER Assessment distinguishes between Written Linguistic Intelligence and Oral Linguistic Intelligence.  Furthermore, because effective measurement of Linguistic ability takes into consideration language and culture, the Assessment was designed to be adaptable.  For example, it is given in the dominant language of the person being assessed.  Many different cultural perspectives were factored into the Assessment’s structure, so that diverse linguistic skills are measured.  For these reasons, a child’s true abilities can be found, regardless of his or her linguistic competence with English.

     Logical-Mathematical Intelligence, as the name suggests, involves the use of logical thinking and mathematical ability.  It also entails the capacity to quantify and structure abstraction, as well as transform disorder into order and make an inefficient system more efficient.  It includes such activities as making graphs, computer programming, engineering, as well as certain components of architecture, weaving, and bargaining, among other things.  Logical-Mathematical Intelligence, as related to problem solving, tends to seek solutions that maximize or minimize a desired outcome (e.g. the most economical, the most effective, the most efficient, the least amount of time).  The DISCOVER Assessment measures this intelligence from several different angles, through, among other things, puzzle exercises and a math assessment in which the number of correct answers and the type of  “mathematical thinking” used are important indicators of ability.

     Spatial Intelligence is the ability to visualize, create, and transform objects, concepts, and designs in one’s mind.  It also involves a superior ability to understand and utilize dimensional space, seeing, for example, that the proverbial square peg will not fit in the round hole.  Dr. Maker further distinguishes between two aspects of Spatial Intelligence, which she refers to respectively as Spatial Artistic Ability and Spatial Analytical Ability.  Spatial Artistic ability can be described, in part, as a sensitivity to color, subtlety, complexity, aesthetics, overall effect, symmetry, novelty, and variety.  It strongly influences all visual arts and many other activities such as landscape and fashion design, body art, and architecture.  Spatial Analytical ability, which focuses more on form and transformation, also strongly impacts many of the same activities.  A mover, imagining how a piece of furniture might be turned, twisted, or flipped to best fit through a doorway, is using this aspect of Spatial Intelligence, as is an engineer contemplating the shape of a new car design.  To illustrate how these two spatial components are different, yet complementary, consider a sculptor in the process of creating a face from a block of stone.  Spatial Analytical Intelligence is used in deciding how large to make the nose, (properly proportioned with other facial features) but Spatial Artistic Intelligence is used in deciding if the nose should be more or less angled, bulged or upturned—for visual effect.

     Naturalist Intelligence, in DISCOVER, is referred to as Integrative Intelligence.  It involves the ability to break a “whole” into its collective “parts” or the opposite, to assemble a “whole” from its dispersed “parts”.  It also refers to an ability to distinguish between the “parts”, categorizing and grouping them into useful subsets.  This intelligence can be applied in the context of the natural world, or with man-made components.  In a natural context, it is the keen awareness of one’s part of, and separateness from, the surrounding environment, understanding that individual and subset-group actions affect global actions and vice versa.  Typically there is an exceptionally strong “connection” to natural phenomena and an appreciation for their complexity, diversity, and necessity.  In a man-made context, a similar appreciation for complexity and diversity exists, along with a superior ability to categorize.  In this context, a person might be able to look at any car and immediately give the make, model, year and distinguishing characteristics or might enjoy owning many closets full of clothes, so that the different colors and styles can be combined in seemingly countless ways.  Integrative Intelligence has a strong connection to both Logical-Mathematical and Spatial Intelligence, yet is distinct.  A person with this ability can see, or create, the “big picture” along with its “parts” and can excel in numerous diverse careers such as farmer, military commander, top corporate executive, and research scientist, to name a few.

     Interpersonal Intelligence is the ability to relate to, influence, and understand people.  A high degree of Interpersonal Intelligence often manifests itself in effective bargaining, sales, teamwork, and management skills, as well as the ability to please, amuse, motivate and otherwise effectively influence people.  Interpersonal skill also covers the capacity to flatter, manipulate, deceive, cheat, and dominate—traits that, although often perceived as negative, are in some cases, nonetheless, effective.  Interpersonal Intelligence often acts as both a glue and a lubricant between the other intelligences.  High ability in this area can greatly enhance the effectiveness of other Intelligences, and interestingly enough, even hide deficiencies in other Intelligences.

    Intrapersonal Intelligence focuses inward, rather than outward, as is the case with Interpersonal Intelligence.  High Intrapersonal Intelligence lends itself to introspection and an understanding of one’s self.  Some characteristics include:  effective goal setting, self motivation, deep contemplation of complicated issues, and a capacity to inspire deep emotions or thoughts in others, often indirectly through visual art, poetry, or literature.  An intrapersonal leader will place more emphasis on an organization’s infrastructure, logistics, and goals, rather than on individual personalities.

     Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence includes the use of motor skills and movement, as well as coordination, flexibility, dexterity, and other capacities useful to sports and other physically demanding activities or careers.  It also encompasses fine motor skills, such as those used in model building or tasks requiring hand/eye coordination.  Children with superior Bodily Kinesthetic Intelligence can be assessed, in many cases, at an early age.  Other children develop such ability at later stages of growth.  Unfortunately, many educators do not understand the importance of both assessing and using this intelligence.  The number of “high-energy kids” today is growing, causing consternation among parents and teachers alike.  Many of these children, consequently, are labeled as ADHD and given drugs to calm them down, when in fact the opposite should occur.  “High-energy” children, in many cases, are gifted in Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence and need to move their bodies just as an artist needs to create.  All too often they are told to sit still and listen to a lesson, even though learning will be faster and more effective if the student participates in what we call “active learning”, instruction that uses bodily movement.  Just about any subject can be taught this way, through dance, gymnastics and other exercises, and the results are significant.  For more information on this subject, view the ADHD topic.

     Musical Intelligence actually has a broader scope than the name might suggest, but it does include the ability to distinguish between different tonal qualities, rhythms, and pitches, as well as possessing the ability to memorize, harmonize with, improvise, and compose music.  Superior Musical Intelligence might also include having Perfect Pitch, the ability to exactly identify a pitch upon hearing it or to sing the exact pitch associated with a musical note on a page.  High intelligence in this area is often associated with a markedly greater sensitivity to audio stimuli, a situation that can lead both to enjoyment and annoyance, as well as interesting, if not amusing stories.  Take, for example, the choir singer with perfect pitch who physically cannot continue singing because the choir has gone a half step flat, meaning that the notes being sung contrast horribly with what he “hears” in his mind by looking at the notes on the music score…or the musician who decides that she must move to another apartment because the air conditioner produces a disagreeable harmony that is driving her crazy.   Exceptional musicians often possess a higher than normal Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence, oriented towards fine motor skills, allowing them to become proficient with instruments.  Interestingly enough, some people who might otherwise consider themselves “ not musical” unwittingly rely on Musical Intelligence.  A superior mechanic, for example, who can listen to an engine and know exactly what is wrong with it, is using some of the same audio abilities, as is a marine biologist who can make fine distinctions between the calls of whales. 

     Robert Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory classifies the same “intelligence” characteristics in different ways…three categories rather than eight.  Thus as can be expected, any one of Sternberg’s categories overlaps with all of Gardner’s intelligences.

     Analytical relates to such things as logic, applied mathematics, categorization, analysis, business strategy and the engineering side of scientific thinking.

     Creative applies to such things as the visual arts, theoretical mathematics, theoretical sciences, business development, and various forms of design.

     Practical influences such things as blue-collar occupations, business management, issues of family life, finance and government.

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