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Focus On Basics

Volume 3, Issue A ::: March 1999

The Eight Intelligences

Linguistic Intelligence

involves perceiving or generating spoken or written language

allows communication and sense-making through language

includes sensitivity to subtle meanings in language

encompasses descriptive, expressive, and poetic language abilities

A great deal of linguistic intelligence is required if you are a novelist, stand-up comedian, journalist, lawyer, poet, news correspondent. Linguistic intelligence is not about being bilingual, but does include facility with learning languages; nor is it being talkative or liking to talk.

Logical/Mathematical Intelligence

enables individuals to use and appreciate abstract relations

includes facility in the use of numbers and logical thinking

A great deal of logical-mathematical intelligence is required if you are a mathematician, scientist, engineer, or architect. This intelligence is not only about numerical reasoning but, as the name implies, includes logical reasoning abilities that might not involve numbers at all.

Spatial Intelligence

involves perceiving and using visual or spatial information

transforming this information into visual images

recreating visual images from memory

You need a lot of spatial intelligence if you are a sculptor, architect surgeon, cab driver, dancer. Spatial intelligence is not necessarily visual. Blind individuals develop excellent spatial ability.

Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence

allows an individual to use all or part of your body to "create"

refers to the ability to control all or isolated parts of one's body

includes athletic, creative, fine, and gross motor movement

You require a great deal of bodily kinesthetic intelligence if you are a dancer, surgeon, athlete, sculptor. Bodily kinesthetic intelligence is not merely moving, or "working off energy." A student who cannot sit still in the classroom does not necessarily possess a strength in this intelligence.

Musical Intelligence

involves creating, communicating, and understanding meanings made out of sound (music composition, production, and perception)

includes ability in dealing with patterns of sound

A great deal of musical intelligence is required if you are a musician, conductor, sound engineer, or choreographer. Musical intelligence is not engaged by playing music "in the background." In fact, background music often interferes with the work of those who excel in this area because they tend to focus actively on the music.

Naturalist Intelligence

involves the ability to understand the natural world

includes the ability to work effectively in the natural world

allows people to distinguish among, classify, and use features of the environment

is also applied to general classifying and patterning abilities

A great deal of naturalist intelligence is required if you are a botanist, biologist, gardener, farmer, chef. The naturalist intelligence is also brought to bear in other non-natural classification and patterning activities.

Interpersonal Intelligence

involves the capacity to recognize and make distinctions among the feelings, beliefs, and intentions of other people

allows the use of this knowledge to work effectively in the world

A great deal of interpersonal intelligence is required if you are a teacher, mediator, salesperson. Interpersonal intelligence is not simply working, or preferring to work, in a group, being well liked, or having manners. Rather it emphasizes an individual's ability to understand social situations and the actions of others within that context.

Intrapersonal Intelligence

enables individuals to understand themselves and to draw on that understanding to make decisions about viable courses of action

includes the ability to distinguish one's feelings and to anticipate reactions to future courses of action

A great deal of intrapersonal intelligence is required if you are a therapist, poet, minister. Intrapersonal intelligence is not related to comfort with or preference for working alone. Consider the individual who knows that he is or she is the type of person who likes to work in groups.

Existential ability remains under consideration for designation as an intelligence. It refers to the human inclination to ask very basic questions about existence, such as: Who are we? Where do we come from? At this time this ability does not sufficiently meet the criteria discussed earlier (see box on page 8) to be considered an intelligence (Gardner, 1999, p. 9). The question remains as to whether existential abilities are not an amalgam of logical and linguistic intelligences.

Updated 7/27/07 :: Copyright © 2005 NCSALL