When I was in my early thirties, I created an organization called Latebloomers. It’s intention was to convey information to parents and teachers about honoring the different pace of learning in some children, and not placing strict timetables for reading, math, etc. on their development, since kids development at different times and places. Now I’m in my seventies, and lateblooming for me has more to do with adult development.
I’ve been working with Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences over the past thirty-five years. It says that there are at least eight (and possibly nine) intelligences that we all possess. I’ve done workshops for teachers on this concept in 29 different countries and 43 states in this country. While again, the focus has been mostly on children, I’ve long been intrigued by the life span implications of the multiple intelligences. Gardner says each intelligence has its own developmental trajectory with its own unique pattern of arising in early childhood, peaking sometime during the lifespan and then gradually or rapidly declining as we get older.
Gardner theory suggests that it may be easier to late bloom in some intelligences more than in others. For example, if you’re fifty and haven’t studied math or science but want to get started now and create some new theorem or discovery, I hate to break it to you, but it may be too late. It’s hard to late bloom as an adult in Number/Logic Smart. That doesn’t mean we can’t acquire math or science knowledge at this or any age. I’m seventy two and have just started on The Khan Academy working to review my high school math skills (and it’s fun when I get things right!).
But if you’re going to pick an area to excel in, you might consider writing (Word Smart), because there are lots of examples of adult latebloomers in that area. Toni Morrison was almost forty when she wrote her first novel (The Bluest Eye), and twenty-five years later she won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Also, the personal intelligences (People Smart and Self Smart) are relatively easy to latebloom in because as we go through life we’re constantly gaining life experience. Most of the world’s leaders are elders. Music Smart arises earlier than any of the other intelligences, but you can take it up in midlife and do great things with it (Eubie Blake was a piano sensation into his nineties). Same thing with Picture Smart. Just look at the painter Grandma Moses, who didn’t even begin to pain until she was in her seventies!
If you’re really determined and have the natural gifts for it, then you can probably late bloom in any of the eight or nine intelligences at any age. But think of it this way: I’m just trying to save you time!
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.
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