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Know your child's MI

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Howard Gardner's 30 year old theory of the existence of 8 and more Multiple Intelligence in an individual as against a single IQ is slowly gaining ground. Read on about how you can discover and …

Howard Gardner's 30 year old theory of the existence of 8 and more Multiple Intelligence in an individual as against a single IQ is slowly gaining ground. Read on about how you can discover and nurture the MI in your child

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  • 1. coverstoryWake-up! Y our seven-year-old daughter’s teachers at school are complaining about her. The child has some difficulty following the lessonsYour taught; her classwork is often incomplete. But she draws beautiful diagrams; her project work is imaginative. At home, you know that she likes science. She brings you an illustrated encyclopaedia with pictures of fiery volcanoes, surging seas and interesting pot-bellied antschild is and asks you to read aloud to her. She cannot bear to see a mosquito squashed. She cannot tolerate the fact that dirty water is going untreated into the sea.KNOWING YOUR An intelligence You feel that she has an is the ability to intelligence innate in herCHILD’S MULTIPLE solve problems, or that makes her appreciate the world outside. WhatINTELLIGENCES to create products, is this intelligence and is it that are valued enough for her to get by BY RANGASHREE SRINIVAS within one or more in academics? How should cultural settings. this intelligence be tapped? Are schools (and parents Howard Gardner, too) progressive enough Frames of Mind (1983) to treat each child as a unique individual, and adapt themselves accordingly to satisfy her needs? It is therefore important that both you as a parent and her teachers understand the multiple intelligences (MI) present in every child, learn to identify the dominant ones and tap them appropriately. Howard Gardner, the father of the Multiple Intelligence theory, visited India recently renewing an interest in MI and how it
  • 2. Word NumberSmart Smartwill impact the world in the years to The MI theory suggests that an In contrast, the MI theory recognizes atcome. In the 30 years since he first individual possesses intelligences in least eight different intelligences thatpropounded the theory of MI, further several areas as against the traditional have to be considered while creating anresearch has been done, not just by idea of a single intelligence. An ‘intelligence’ profile of a person.him, but by several other scholars and intelligent person has been recognizedpractitioners around the world. so far only by her linguistic (language) MI theory strives to provide educators abilities or logical (mathematical) and parents with a tool to recognizeWHAt IS MI? abilities as these are considered and nurture the different abilities of theGardner developed this theory based to be important for academic child. It redefines the word ‘intelligent’on his observations of hundreds of advancement. Thus, only the student or ‘smart’. It brings in new thinkingpeople from different walks of life, who achieves high scores in class is towards nurturing excellence, creativityunder everyday circumstances. His study considered intelligent. Another child and genius. It emphasises that allalso included stroke victims, prodigies, may just be ‘talented’ in the area of children can learn and that it is theautistic individuals, and the so-called her achievement – ‘She is a good adults who need to know how to‘idiot savants’. According to Gardner, dancer; let us send her for the inter- teach them. school dance competition.’ ‘He is a All human beings possess all eight good cricket player; but he needs to THE 8 INtELLIGENCES IN tHE MI intelligences in varying amounts, concentrate now on improving his FRAmEwORK with some, more dominant than grades’ and so on. Chitra Ravi (Founder and CEO, EZ others. Vidya), who has worked under Gardner Each person has a different Worse still, in some schools only the on Project Zero at Harvard University, intellectual composition. academically well-performing students gives some pointers to parents to spot We can improve education by are given the opportunity to participate intelligences in their children. addressing the multiple intelligences in co-curricular activities when there of our students. could be others more suited for this. 1.Linguistic intelligence is the These intelligences are located in For instance, it is the class topper who capacity to use languages, to express different areas of the brain and can gets to deliver the school’s morning oneself, and to understand other either work independently assembly speech. It is the girl who people. Poets specialise in linguistic or together. scores a 100% in math who gets to intelligence. But any kind of writer, These intelligences may define the automatically represent her school in orator, speaker, lawyer, or a person for human species. the inter-school quiz competition. whom language is an important 8 www.parentcircle.in 13
  • 3. coverstoryPicture BodySmart Smartstock in trade, highlights player or sculptor represents a more Some children appear to be restlesslinguistic intelligence. circumscribed spatial world. Spatial while studying; they need to take a intelligence can be used in the arts or ‘running’ break every 20 minutes.Does your child love to read and write? in the sciences. If your child is spatially If your child is doing a cross-leggedDoes he enjoy solving word puzzles? intelligent and oriented toward the arts, jig while you are revising his scienceDoes he think in more languages he is more likely to become a painter lessons with him, understand thatthan one? or a sculptor or an architect than, say, it is his way of learning. Is he body a musician or a writer. Similarly, certain smart? Can he mime? Look at his facial2. People with a highly developed sciences like anatomy or topology expressions closely.logical-mathematical intelligence emphasise spatial intelligence.understand the underlying principles 5. Musical intelligence is the capacityof some kind of a to think in music,causal system, theway a scientist or a If your child is caught doodling in to be able to hear patterns, recogniselogician does. They can class, it is not necessarily a sign of them, remembermanipulate numbers, disinterest - he is just ‘mapping’ the them, and perhapsquantities, andoperations, the way a lesson out! manipulate them.mathematician does. If your child drums So if your child is caught doodling on the table or whistles during hisDoes your child reason out why he in class, it is not necessarily a sign of lessons, or listens to music whileneeds to budget his pocket money? disinterest – he is just ‘mapping’ the studying, then it is this dominantDoes he like to pack his school bag in a lesson out! intelligence at work.particular sequence? Is henumber smart? 4. Bodily kinaesthetic intelligence 6. Interpersonal intelligence is the is the capacity to use the whole body ability to understand other people.3. Visual-spatial intelligence refers or parts of the body –hand, fingers, It is an ability we all need, but it isto the ability to represent the spatial arms– either to solve a problem, or to substantial in teachers, psychologists,world internally in one’s mind – the make or produce something. Evident salespersons, or politicians. Anybodyway a sailor or a pilot navigates the examples: athletes or performing artists, who deals with other people has to belarge spatial world, or the way a chess particularly dancers or actors. skilled in the interpersonal sphere.814 Parent Circle / March 2012
  • 4. coverstory People Music Smart SmartDoes your child enjoy talking to other among living things (plants, animals) THE ImPLICAtION OF MIchildren and adults? Does he empathise as well as sensitivity to other features FOR A PARENtwith them? Does he understand ‘the of the natural world (clouds, rock Says Chitra, “Every parent shouldright moments’ to approach people to configurations). This ability was clearly nurture the native intelligence/s ofget his work done? of value in our evolutionary past as her child. This is better done during hunters, gatherers, and farmers; it the primary days, when the child still7. Intrapersonal intelligence refers continues to be central in such roles displays his natural propensities withoutto having an understanding of the self, as botanist or chef. Today’s society inhibition. The parent has a greatof knowing who you are, what you exploits the naturalist intelligence of chance of observing his child at home,can do, what you want to do, how people to distinguish between different where the environment is less rigidyou react, what to avoid etc. We are types of cars, shampoos and the like. and structured, compared to school.drawn to people If the child iswho have a goodunderstanding If the child is encouraged to do what encouraged to do what comesof themselves comes naturally to him from early on, he naturally to himbecause suchpeople do not has a very good chance of leading a happy from early on, he has a veryscrew up. Theytend to know what and fulfilling life. good chance of leading a happythey can do and and fulfillingwhat they cannot do. They tend to Does your child point out to you the life. He would make lesser mistakesknow where to go, if they need help. difference between a camel and a in his choice of a career, as he would dromedary? confidently gravitate to where hisDoes your child know that if he interest and intelligence lies.wears his favourite colour green, he 9. A ninth intelligence is to be addedgets pepped up? Does he have an to this list and that is Existential The parent can detect multipleunderstanding of what tends to intelligence – sensitivity and capacity intelligences in a child even when he isupset him? to tackle deep questions about human in middle school or in high school. But, existence, such as the meaning of life, a lot of spontaneity in that child would8. Naturalist intelligence designates why do we die, and how did we have died by then and much of thethe human ability to discriminate get here. intelligence would have been pruned.”816 Parent Circle / March 2012
  • 5. Naturalist Intelligence Best suited to be an animal health technician, anthropologist, astronomer, Intrapersonal botanist, environmental Intelligence Best suited lawyer, farmer, forest to be a career counsellor, ranger, gardener, consultant, criminologist, geologist, landscaper, healer, futurist or trend meteorologist, nature predictor, personal photographer,counsellor, philosopher, veterinarian, Verbal-programme planner, water conservationist, Linguisticentrepreneur, wetlands ecologist, Intelligence Best psychologist, researcher, wildlife expert suited to be a writer, small business, owner, poet, journalist, teacher, spiritual counsellor, lawyer, librarian, theologian, therapist, marketing consultant, writer, wellness newscaster, counsellor politician Show them Interpersonal the moon and Mathematical- Logical Intelligence Intelligence Best suited they will Best suited to be an accountant, mathematician, to be an administrator, reach for statistician, economist, detective, computer analyst, communications manager, customer service representative, the stars! computer technician, computer human resources manager, programmer, marketing specialist, Best suited careers database designer, engineer, network nurse, politician, for an intelligence analyst, physicist, psychologist, religious scientist leader, social worker, The MI profile of your child can teacher, trainer guide him in choosing a suitable career path. Bodily- Kinesthetic Intelligence Best suited Musical Visual- Intelligence to be an actor, athlete, Spatial Intelligence carpenter, computer games Best suited to Best suited to be a be an audiologist, designer, crafts person, dancer, 3D modelling & simulation, sports composer, architect, artist, film animator, conductor, therapist, graphic artist, interior decorator, forest ranger, disc jockey, photographer, mechanic, navigator, music critic, jeweller, pilot, sculptor, strategic planner, mechanic, sound editor, surveyor, urban planner, music teacher, music personal webmaster trainer, therapist, musician, surgeon recording engineer, singer, songwriter, speech pathologist www.parentcircle.in 17
  • 6. coverstory Self NatureSmart SmartEXtREmE INtELLIGENCES abilities. Their MI profiling is created allows children to approach a givenThe presence of MI is easily detected and shared with their educator who task through their unique intelligences.in both the learning-disabled and the incorporates it into her teaching. In one session, the facilitator showedgifted, as Gardner found out. A child the children a drawing of colourfulwho may have trouble reading may “Children with learning disabilities concentric circles and asked them tohave a keen eye for animals and birds. come with very low self-esteem,” says make a similar drawing. One child whoA prodigy who reels off the square Swetha Chandrashekar, coordinator, exhibited Visual-Spatial Intelligenceroots of three-digit numbers could be Hydra Project. “With planned exposure just picked up different colours andtone-deaf. The use of MI theory can to various activities like interactions with drew the circles intuitively. Anotherhelp educators of both groups to build musicians, movement sessions, working child measured the distances betweencapacity in the child. with puzzles, art & craft sessions, field each circle, outlined the circles in pencil first before fillingThe Hydra Project in We never tell a child to do in the colours. This childChennai works withVidyasagar (a voluntary anything in a ‘certain’ way. It is possibly possessed high Mathematical-Logicalorganization based in their unique approach that gives us Intelligence.Chennai that workswith children and young an insight into their minds. In another instance, aadults with cerebral palsy child who was givenand other neurological disabilities) to trips to nature parks & photography paper and a pair of scissors to make amentor groups of learning-disabled studios, we are able to show them what collage, reportedly began to study thechildren. they can do, rather than what they mechanics of the scissors. “We never can’t do. This boosts their self-esteem tell a child to do anything in a ‘certain’An after-school activity centre, Hydra and we have seen them improve way. It is their unique approach thatexposes the children for a period of significantly in other areas too,” gives us an insight into their minds,”3 to 4 months to various activities. she adds. says Swetha.The children are observed for theirpreferences to certain activities, their She also talks about ‘Pluralism’ in A handmade poster is prominentlyapproach to problems, and specific administering the MI theory, which displayed in the front room of Hydra.18 Parent Circle / March 2012
  • 7. The poster spells out simple classroom researching this topic at the schoolrules of cleanliness and etiquette. The library and on the internet. Others Busting the‘N’ of neat is a mirror image as it waswritten by a dyslexic child. “The dyslexic made charts, and oral presentations. Some produced a dance-drama. mythschild was particularly surprised that Idid not correct him, he was so used to So a topic close to their hearts was approached in different ways,” says behind MIconstant corrections. My job is not to Mrs YGP. MI is not an educational end;correct the child, but to help him learn it is an educational means to aby himself,” says Swetha. Applying the theory of MI in schools stated goal. calls for an effort by the school, and MI is not the same as aINtEGRAtING MI INtO tEACHING it has to percolate top down. It would sensory system; MI is like a set ofAND ASSESSmENt mean that different computers in the brain,The child who is considered to be of The school should believe that any processing the various sensoryaverage intelligence in school is, as discipline requires MI and that any goal inputs.mentioned earlier, inevitably tested only can be reached through MI MI is not the same as afor Verbal-Linguistic and Mathematical- The school will have to develop discipline or career. A singleLogical intelligences. He could turn adequate resources and effective discipline will require multipleout to be a really good surgeon with modelling for teaching through MI intelligences. For example, amore dominant Bodily Kinesthetic and Teachers have to be coaches and brilliant dancer needs both bodilyInterpersonal intelligences. In reality, facilitators and not mere kinaesthetic and interpersonalpeople can bring in their various content providers intelligence. A particularintelligences into any work they do. Learning has to be individualized. intelligence is required in severalFortunately, reforms in Indian education A topic, say ‘Parts of a plant’ can be disciplines. For example, youlike the introduction of Continous and explained verbally, or visually through must possess spatial intelligenceComprehensive Evaluation (CCE), may drawings and illustrations, or by taking to be an artist or a chess playergive schools an avenue to tap the MI of a walk in the park, through discussions or an architect.students and award grades accordingly. and research, or in many other ways. MI is not the same as learning The teacher should facilitate self- style, it refers to a mentalDr Rajalakshmi Parthasarathy, better learning according to the child’s computer.known as Mrs YGP, the founder-head dominant intelligence MI cannot be measured; thereof the famous Padma Seshadri schools A time should be allotted everyday is no official empiricalin Chennai says, “We have always for the teachers to discuss with each measurement as yet.believed that every child has unique other, the events of the day There is no curriculum toabilities. Our theme-based annual follow MI; a framework has to beproductions allow every student to be EZ Vidya, the company that Chitra evolved case by case according toa part of the production in different Ravi founded, helps schools by what the society values.ways. For instance, in our last year’s providing them with products and MI relates directly toproduction, ‘Sri Gurubhyo Namaha’, services that integrate the MI concepts. performance or achievement-the children were engaged in research, This framework, when applied in oriented goals; a child who hasdocumentation, scripting, art, music classrooms, triggers the different Musical Intelligence need notand dance. This gave an opportunity intelligences in a child, stimulates self- necessarily become a vocalist orfor each student to apply his unique learning and self-discovery. “Apart from instrumentalist. She may use theintelligences to the whole production. conceptual learning, we also focus on aspect of music to study ‘living well’ – to be in harmony with the Sonography.Recently, some students who were world and oneself,” she says. Intelligence is God - given andupset on having witnessed the flogging static. In reality, intelligenceof a bullock, reported it to us. We “Many of our science and math lessons needs the right kind of exposureencouraged them to do a project on start with a poem or a crossword. The to flower. Otherwise, it‘Our dumb friends’. Some students teacher allows the child to approach a will wither.did a thorough study in two weeks, topic in the way he likes,” she says. 8 www.parentcircle.in 19
  • 8. coverstory when he says “Character is more Multiple VS Traditional IQ important than intellect”. By nurturing Intelligences MI in our children, we can foster a new global renaissance, which calls upon Creates a profile after assessing A single format test that assesses one’s everyone – the genius, the impaired and different intelligences and abilities. Language and Mathematical abilities. the ordinary to work together in their unique capacities. Was born out of a Dutch grant project American psychologist Lewis Terman of scholarly work on human potential. developed tests designed to measure Gardner developed it while chronicling intelligence quotient (IQ). IQ tests were known facts about human cognition commonly used in colonial times to (through discoveries in the biological measure performance success in public and behavioural sciences). schools, to assess one’s ability to rule over the colonies, and as a military induction test. Takes into account various cultural Terman was a strong supporter of contexts and ethnic influences. eugenics (breeding to improve human race), and enthusiastically argued that his test results proved that “the A NAtURALISt NAmED VIKAS intelligence of the average Negro is Vikas Madhav Nagarajan, 12 vastly inferior to that of the average years old, started an ecosystem white man”. conservation in the year 2007 to create an awareness about Is organic in nature and expands with Is static in nature. If you are born with flora and fauna. As a part of nurture, exposure and experience. an IQ of 120, it remains so this project, Vikas has produced a beautiful tabletop calendar Every human, even those with Has a limited and rigid range. Above featuring a variety of species of retarded brain growth, the average 140 IQ is considered genius or near birds that he photographed on a person and the gifted ones have MI of genius and below 70 IQ is definite day safari from Athirapally falls to value. In fact, the impaired and gifted feeble-mindedness. Peringalkuthu dam. have at least one highly dominant intelligence. Vikas has undertaken personal survey trips to Wayanad,FOR PARENtS has to be one!” Megamalai, Kabini, Coorg,Shirin Mammen, Coordinator, HRD, RESPECt your child as an entity Sundarbans, Kodaikanal, Mukurthi,Vidyasagar advises parents to nurture different from yourself. Perumparai and some partsthe intelligences of their children DO NOt look for an ‘end’ for any of Palani Hills. He participatesREDUCE stress on high marks. activity. If he likes music, he need not regularly in the ecosystemObSERVE without judgement. Let your be a stage performer. awareness programmes conductedchild be. LEt your child have a ‘happiness’ by the Tamil Nadu ForestLEt your child play naturally. corner. Let him sing away his blues. Department, the Tree FoundationBE an ‘intuitive’ parent. DO NOt opt for any activity only for and the Madras Naturalists Society.StAy away from narcissism – both the sake of achievement. This young naturalist has evenpositive and negative. conducted quiz programmesPositive narcissism: “My wife and I are According to Gardner, Multiple for high school students. Hisboth doctors. My child should opt for Intelligences should be used to do ‘intelligence’ shows through themedical studies only!” good work – work that is deemed to intimate descriptions of the birdsNegative narcissism: “I wanted to be a be of high quality and which is socially featured in his calendar.carnatic vocalist. I couldn’t, but my child responsible. He echoes Ralph Emerson20 Parent Circle / March 2012