According to Dr. Howard Gardner, a professor at Harvard University, we need to go beyond the ”IQ” as a measure of intelligence. He suggests that there are at least eight intelligences (possibly nine), including: Word Smart, Number/Logic Smart, Picture Smart, Music Smart, Body Smart, Nature Smart, People Smart, and Self Smart. At ninth intelligence might be what I call Life Smart (Dr. Gardner calls it ”existential intelligence” – the intelligence of concern with ultimate life issues).

The problem is that the schools mostly focus on the first two intelligences in this list and neglect (or give scant attention) to the other six. This becomes a problem for kids who may not be so highly developed in these two intelligences, but show gifts in one or more of the other intelligences. Over the past thirty-five years as an educator, I’ve been particularly fascinated by the Picture Smart child, who processes information through both inner and outer images. This child may be ”at risk” for being labeled as ”dyslexic” or ”learning disabled” (or even ADHD), and yet show distinct gifts as an image learner.

There is no reason why the schools can’t teach to the Picture Smart student. They can do something as easy as ask kids to visualization what they’ve just read or learned. They can use 3-D models of the skeletal system, the DNA molecule, or the solar system. They can have kids drawing their ideas as well as writing them down. More and more of our culture beyond school involves picture and image cognition (e.g. biogenetics, cosmology, engineering, website design etc.). If we truly want to prepare our kids for the 21st century (which is almost 1/4 over!), then we should be empowering them with Picture Smart learning strategies, and this is true for all kids.

To learn more about Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, get my books:

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I’m the author of 20 books including my latest, a novel called Childless, which you can order from Amazon.

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