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Multiple Intelligences Revisited
by Michael Berman
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IQ Tests were developed by Binet early in the 20th century and were frequently used to assess the potential of children in schools until quite recently. Tests of this type, however, have now fallen into disrepute. All they test is linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence and this traditional definition of intelligence is now regarded as too narrow. We now know that 75% of teachers are sequential, analytical presenters but 70% of students do not actually learn this way! The educational psychologist most responsible for this change of attitude is Howard Gardner, the creator of the Multiple Intelligence Theory.

Gardner's work at the Boston University School of Medicine lead to the identification of eight criteria for the existence of intelligence types: potential isolation by brain damage, the existence of prodigies such as autistic savants, an identifiable set of core operations, a distinctive developmental history along with a definable set of expert end-state performances, an evolutionary history, support from experimental psychological tasks, support from psychometric findings, and susceptibility to an encoding symbol system. (The criteria are explained in detail in Gardner's "Frames of Mind" if you would like to read more about them).

Gardner originally identified seven intelligence types which satisfy the above criteria and our intelligence profiles consist of combinations of the different types: linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal - the way we relate to others, and intrapersonal - our ability to self-evaluate. (Emotional Intelligence, the term popularised by Daniel Goleman, covers what Gardner refers to as interpersonal plus intrapersonal).

Gardner refers to Intelligences as potentials that will or will not be activated, depending upon the values of a particular culture, the opportunities available in that culture, and the personal decisions made by individuals and/or their families, schoolteachers, and others.

A student who believes that intelligence can be developed is likely to be persistent and adventurous. However, a learner who thinks that ability is fixed, is more likely to get upset when faced with failure as it can only be construed as evidence of inadequate ability. The fluid 'theory' of intelligence advocated by Gardner encourages students to stretch themselves.

In his book "Intelligence Reframed" Gardner adds Naturalist Intelligence, our talent for classifying and categorising, to the original Magnificent Seven. He also speculates on the possibility of their being both a spiritual intelligence and an existential intelligence but comes to no definite conclusions.

According to Danah Zohar, author of "Spiritual Intelligence The Ultimate Intelligence", SQ (Spiritual Intelligence) is 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. On scans taken with positron emission topography 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'.

The brain's unitive experience emanates from synchronous 40 Hz neural oscillations that travel across the whole brain. According to Zohar, the 40 Hz oscillations are the neural basis of SQ, a third intelligence that places our actions and experience in a larger context of meaning and value, thus rendering them more effective. Everything possesses a degree of proto-consciousness but only certain special structures, like brains, have what is needed to generate full-blown consciousness. In this case, we conscious human beings have our roots at the origin of the universe itself. Our spiritual intelligence grounds us in the wider cosmos, and life has purpose and meaning within the larger context of cosmic evolutionary processes.

Peggy Ann Wright at Lesley College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has studied a link between heightened temporal lobe activity and shamanistic experiences. These are soul journeys to distant realms of experience in order to communicate with spirits of the living and the dead, and to bring back healing advice. Wright's work has also shown that rhythmic drumming of the sort used in a vast range of spiritual rituals excites the temporal lobes and associated areas of the limbic system.

Guided visualisation can also be used to excite the temporal lobes and the process can be used in the classroom. In a similar way, every time you introduce a tale starting 'once upon a time', you are inviting your audience to transcend their linear concepts of time and space and so enter a light state of trance. Consequently, both guided imagery and story telling can be used in class to facilitate the development of SQ.

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