Intelligent Life?

I had this idea in the bottom drawer of my brain that there were ten different intelligences, a number I have quoted with alacrity but rarely enumerated (and have never been challenged on). When I Google’d it, I discovered two different lists of 10 and another one of 8, none of which satisfied me. They including strange things such as sensual and naturalist intelligence and the ‘genius factor’ which sounded rather elitist and fanciful. I decided these were not very intelligent lists . . so, I have made up my own set, by combining, refining and redefining these, and adding one or two of my own (thereby demonstrating a minor degree of linguistic, creative, conceptual . . . . etc etc intelligences . . . )

I confess an irritation about IQ tests, as they promote one / two or (at most) three types of intelligence above all others (you can work out which they are). I also wince when people mistake intelligence for memory, which is the accumulation of knowledge, rather than the use of the brain. So the guy who wins Mastermind or excels at the pub trivia quiz is deemed “clever”, when all he is, is an effective sponge! A bit like assuming that the more bricks a guy can carry in his hod, the better builder he is. But then, with my (lack of) memory, I would say that, wouldn’t I ? And, you could counteract by saying “prove to me that intelligence is no more than good memory”. A clever challenge, but one that only works if we believe intelligences are learned rather than inherited. My experience as a parent is that they are largely genetic and are subsequently developed (or not).

If you wish to depress yourself, think about how many of the intelligences below are developed in school, and how these align which those which are required to live a happy and fulfilled life. We are all highly intelligent, in some combination. The trick is to discover our profile and enjoy and exploit it.

Here is my list of Ten Intelligences, with a description and examples of some types people who demonstrate them.

1. Verbal / Linguistic

A good vocabulary, the ability to understand, appreciate and write meaningful and expressive combinations of words in, the talent to easily learn and speak new languages.

Poets, book enthusiasts, speech writers, interpreters, journalists

2. Spatial / Visual

The ability to see the relationships of shapes to each other, to identify and create patterns, to appreciate position and have a sense of direction.

Navigators, car parkers, designers, football coaches, chess players, generals at war, painters, PS3 players

3. Numerical / Logical / Analytical

The traditional “IQ” measure. The skills of thinking logically, analysing facts and drawing conclusions. The ability to solve problems and work well with numbers. Deductive reasoning.

Detectives, computer menders, sudoku solvers, code breakers, lawyers, actuarists, scientists

4. Conceptual

Top-down analysis or inductive reasoning. The ability to overlay concepts on detailed complex situations. The skill of apply the learning from one situation to a completely different situation. The ability to helpfully group and organise and see the “big picture”

Strategists, detectives, visionaries, analogists, poets

5. Intra-personal

Self-understanding and self-awareness. Knowing your own strengths, weaknesses, limitations and potential, without over-estimating or under-valuing oneself.

Anyone and everyone!

6. Inter-personal / social
The ability to understand others and relate to them well. Includes social skills, communication skills, management skills, leadership skills, team-working skills, parenting skills !

Teachers, counsellors, leaders, nurses, help desk staff, staff managers, entertainers

7. Physical

The ability to control your body carefully and precisely, often includes excellent hand-eye co-ordination.

Magicians, piano players, typists, tennis players, english cricketers, synchronised swimmers, darts players, tightrope walkers, knitters, model makers, surgeons, supremely of course Cheer competitors

8. Spiritual

Consciousness of a ‘bigger picture’ or of God. The desire to worship and be known by God. An appreciation of eternal things. Reaching beyond the immediate and temporal.

Ministers and pastors, spiritualists, Christians, Buddhists, religious people

9. Artistic
The ability to appreciate and create art, with beauty and meaning, including shapes, colours, tunes, textures.

Fashion designers, composers, architects, interior designers, photographers, gardeners, painters, musicians, Powerpointers

10. Creative
The ability to create something new from nothing or a collection of other things. Includes lateral thinking, and thinking “outside the box”, being unconstrained by what we know.

Artists, inventors, designers

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