We’ve circled the Earth, landed on the moon and even mapped the surface of Mars, but scientists are just beginning to probe the mushy, gray hills and valleys of the human brain. As they continue to explore further, their research confirms what science-fiction fans have always known. One human brain cell is as complex as a computer, and the brain contains approximately 100 billion cells!
What, then, are the limits of intelligence?
Most researchers have given up guessing about the brain’s limits. But they are certain about one thing: what we consider “intelligence” is just a dim reflection of a human being’s true capabilities. When educators label a child as highly intelligent, average, or below average, they are describing the type of mind that does ( or does not) do well on traditional aptitude and I.Q. tests. In reality, these tests provide a one-dimensional view of a child’s potential because they are skewed against everyone whose strengths do not include verbal and math skills.
Researchers are now trying to broaden intelligence tests to include many kinds of intelligences, and while most children are a blend of them all, every child has strengths in at least one. These “Kinds of Smart” include the following:
Verbal: a flair for words, both spoken and written. These children are avid readers who have an impressive ability to understand and remember what they’ve read.
Logical: a skill in making sense out of things, from abstract numbers to the solar system. Possessors of this ability become mathematicians, physicists, biologists, or computer programmers.
Spatial: an instinctive talent for knowing how to design, build, or fix things. Children who are spatially intelligent can visualize a completed project while it is still in the planning stages.
Musical: the ability to hear and create patterns of pitch and rhythm. If present, this talent usually appears early in life.
Physical: a highly developed mastery of motion. Physically gifted athletes and dancers are able to judge their timing and movements. The physically gifted are also capable of fine, delicate finger movements–becoming speedy typists, detailed seamstresses, or surgeons.
Personal: the ability to understand others’ behavior, feelings, and motivation. Kids who have good “people skills” grow up to be effective parents, teachers, counselors, or salespeople.
This theory of multiple “Kinds of Smart” doesn’t negate the importance of good verbal and math skills. Experience has taught us that students who can read, write, speak, and perform basic math calculations are more successful in school and in life. But as parents and teachers, we should still strive to give kids a variety of learning experiences that will maximize their individual strengths.
An old proverb says: Bloom where you are planted.
If we can cultivate and nourish our children’s talents, then we can bask in the abundance of beautiful, blossoming children.