The old adage ”use it or lose it” seems to apply to the human brain according to findings in neuroscience. Studies of lifelong learners (most famously, a group of nuns in Mankato, Minnesota) show that engaging in a variety of stimulating activities throughout adult life can result in lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and better disability and mortality outcomes in old age.
We need to apply these findings to our own lives and create an integral program of lifelong learning activities that will pave the way for a healthier aging process. Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences posits eight or nine intelligences: Word Smart, Number/Logic Smart, Picture Smart, Music Smart, Body Smart, Nature Smart, People Smart, Self Smart, and possibly (Life Smart – or the existential intelligence). His theory provides a kind of template in following a program of lifelong learning. In addition to logic puzzles, crosswords, reading, and socializing, which are the activities usually mentioned in articles about lifelong learning, we can add to this being in nature, meditating, engaging in art activities, playing music (e.g. an instrument or singing), and regular physical activity. You might even create an MI pie (see below) and put it up on a bulletin board or refrigerator as a reminder to ask the question:
”Have I Used All My Multiple Intelligences Today?”
For more information about Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, get my practical guides to multiple intelligences for:
- Adult learners (7 Kinds of Smart: Identifying and Developing Your Multiple Intelligences)
- Educators who teach children and adolescents — kindergarten through high school (Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom, 4th edition) and/or
- Parents (In Their Own Way: Discovering and Encouraging Your Child’s Multiple Intelligences).
This blog post was brought to you by Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D. and www.institute4learning.com.
Follow me on Twitter: @Dr_Armstrong.