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Journeying, Storytelling & Spiritual Intelligence
by Michael Berman

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It is important to differentiate between the Learning styles referred to in Neuro-Linguistic Programming, the VAKOG model (visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, olfactory, and gustatory), and Intelligence types as the two are often confused. Gardner suggests that it is the decision about how to use one’s favoured intelligences that reflects one’s preferred style.

It follows on from Gardner’s theory that unless we teach multi-modally and cater for all the intelligence types in each of our lessons, we will fail to reach all the learners in the group whichever approach to teaching we adopt. To explain it another way, Goethe said in his prologue to Faust, “Who offers many things will offer some to many a one” and the same can be said of teaching. Another reason for teaching multi-modally is that with high levels of stimulus and challenge there are higher ratios of synapses (connections) to the neurons in the brain. This means more routes for higher order cognitive functioning. The optimal conditions for synaptic growth would include multiple complex connective challenges where, in learning, we are actively engaged in multi-sensory immersion experiences.

MI theory, according to Gardner, is an endorsement of three key propositions:

  • We are not all the same.
  • We do not all have the same kinds of minds.
  • Education works most effectively if these differences are taken into account rather than denied or ignored.

He suggests that the challenge of the next millennium is whether we can make these differences central to teaching and learning or whether we will instead continue to treat everyone in a uniform way. Gardner proposes “individually configured education” – an education that takes individual differences seriously and crafts practices that serve different kinds of minds equally well. It should be pointed out, however, that Gardner himself is not a practising teacher, and it is up to those of us who are to devise ways of putting this into practice.

According to Zohar (2000), SQ (Spiritual Intelligence) can be defined as what we use to develop our longing and capacity for meaning, vision and value. It facilitates a dialogue between reason and emotion, between mind and body. SQ allows us to integrate the intrapersonal and the interpersonal, to transcend the gap between self and other.

There is believed to be a built-in spiritual centre located among neural connections in the temporal lobes of the brain. Evidence to support this hypothesis is based on scans taken with positron emission topography, which that these neural areas light up whenever research subjects are exposed to discussion of spiritual or religious topics. Neurobiologists have now dubbed the area of the temporal lobes concerned with religious or spiritual experience the ‘God spot’ or the ‘God module’.

One of the first people to consider this question was Mandell (1980), who suggested that physiological mechanisms associated with transcendent states are based in a common underlying neurobiological pathway involving the temporal lobe. He identified the hippocampus as ‘the focal point for the activities producing transcendent consciousness through the mechanisms that reduce the inhibitory serotonin regulation of temporal lobe limbic function’ (Winkelman, 2000, p.132).

Plenty of evidence can be found to support the case for their being a spiritual form of intelligence, for example in McClenon’s book:

People who report religious experiences are more likely than others to display enhanced temporal lobe signs, and temporal lobe epilepsy is associated with particular types or religiosity, suggesting that this region of the brain affects religious functioning. Kenneth Dewhurst and A.W. Beard surveyed patients with temporal lobe epilepsy; 38 percent showed particular interest in religion after the onset of their illness compared to 8 percent who showed religious interest before the onset of illness (McClenon, 2002, p.90).

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