Multiple Intelligences10.29.10

Thank God for Howard Gardner. What if he hadn’t come along to shake up our complacency, to remind us that the gift of intelligence has a lot more dimensions than used to be recognized? By now, few people haven’t heard of the phrase “multiple intelligences,” so it hardly needs to be enclosed with quotes anymore.  When I was in school, that wasn’t the case.

I was a good student- able to listen and remember what the teacher said, quick to notice connections and make inferences and deductions. I thought tests were fun, and took a twisted delight if I was both the quickest to finish and the highest scorer. School was usually fun for me, and studying was easier than most other activities. Not surprisingly, I was a student for many years, and I still enjoy being in the classroom.

My youngest is not like me. During preschool, he was rarely interested in books though we read to him every night. He didn’t like to “just talk,” and rarely seemed to wonder how things worked or why things were the way they were.  (He did, however,  take fantastic delight in wondering, “What if…”) At six, thanks to the one-to-one strict phonetic correspondence of the Japanese syllabary, he learned to read after a fashion. How much he took in or interacted with the story is another question.  The last few years have brought progress particularly as we’ve switched into English, but what makes Sky quiver with excitement is something else.

The other night, he disappeared into another room after being told there was no more media/TV time. Twenty minutes later he emerged elated with a fistful of drawings of his imaginary soccer team. Although inspired by a favorite manga (Japanese animation program) Inazuma 11, they were uniquely his own.  Each player had a name and position, a personality and different pose. Last night he wanted to decorate his room with the players  arranged in different places around the walls in an attempt to make his imaginary world 3D.

At 49, I’ve never drawn an original picture yet. When invited (coerced!) to draw, I can usually scratch out a recognizable dinosaur or animal if a model is available. Without one, I feel stuck in the dry desert of my own imagination and usually fall back on a geometric shape or the one animal (a horse) which I learned to draw as a child. Recently I’ve begun to reflect on how my lack of imagination has had negative and limiting effects on myself and others, and sometimes wonder how things would be different if I had been stretched and encouraged to develop other kinds of intelligence than the few I rely upon.

Forty years ago Sky would have had a tough time at my elementary school. Even at the great school he attends now, spelling, logic, some aspects of math, and tasks which involve accessing working memory are rough for him. But partly thanks to an awareness and appreciation of multiple intelligences, Sky lives in a world that is better prepared to embrace his abilities and work with him so that he can use them for the good of others. At times the practices of both the Christian church and US educational culture have shown a very limited grasp of the implications of creation in the creative image of God. While verbally acknowledging that all people are unique and have value, often our structures and practices have shut out many from fully benefiting from or fully  participating in life together . Whether the theory of multiple intelligences is understood through a faith perspective or not, I thank God for the lifework of Howard Gardner, which moves us all in a healthier direction.

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Posted by Andrea Johnson under Uncategorized.

4 Responses to “Multiple Intelligences”

  1. Sky’s art is amazing. I am proud to say, we have some of his original art from his dinosaur period hanging in our home. His gift is truly awe inspiring. I’m glad that he is true to his personal expression.

    What a fabulous mom you are for recognizing this in him.

    Endless Love for you and your family,

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    Posted by Julie on 12/13/09 October 29th, 2010 at 10:03 PMReply

  2. Sky is an extremely talented and creative child and I am looking forward to see how he develops his abilities as he gets older. I am praying that God will provide avenues to use and bless his gifts. Miss him and you all.

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    Posted by Ronna on 12/13/09 October 29th, 2010 at 10:35 PMReply

  3. Yes, yes…I’m tracking with you on this one. N.T. Wright has a few things to say about this also from Ephesians. An interesting talk at Wheaton chapel

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    Posted by Andy Larsen on 12/13/09 December 20th, 2010 at 4:07 PMReply

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