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Jul 23, 2014

HOW are you intelligent?

Let’s start with some numbers…. 8 intelligences, 4 dimensions, 2 contexts and multiple perspectives. That's about the minimum size of our human capacity for cognition.

Howard Gardner (developmental psychologist and Professor of Cognition and Education at Harvard University) lists 8 intelligences and suggests that from childhood onwards we have different stages of development across these 8 intelligences, that exist independently of each other.

The 8 intelligences are:

Linguistic Intelligence – Learn and transfer information through writing, reading and listening to the spoken word. Think in words rather than pictures and good at describing, explaining and listening.

Logical-Mathematical Intelligence – Connect information to identify numerical patterns and logic. Good problem solvers. Often detail oriented or list makers.

Musical Intelligence - Learn and share information through sound, song, and rhythms. Enjoy listening to or making music.

Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence – Like to learn and think through touching, doing, feeling and actively using their body. Feel engaged through their physical energy and like hands on practical experience.

Visual-Spatial Intelligence – Learning preference through pictures, diagrams, slides, handouts, films, photograhs or live demonstrations. Imaginative and often think in pictures and shapes and may find mindmaps a good learning/memory tool.

Interpersonal Intelligence – Thinking and learning style involving multiple points of view. Enjoy teamwork and helping other people. Good at identifying how other people are feeling through body language and tone of voice.

Intrapersonal Intelligence – Independent learning and thinking style with strong level of determination. Good at meeting own goals and have a high level of self-awareness.

Naturalist Intelligence – High awareness and curiosity of own surroundings, nature and the environment (both local environment and the world at large). A hands on approach to learning, often outdoors.


The first 2 intelligences have tended to be the focus of traditional learning methods in educational institutions. And the focus on these have fed through into the workplace and our personal lives. Therefore, the 2 contexts that we refer to at 4D Human Being – our environment and the culture we live in – have an enormous impact on the learning styles we are exposed to and our assumptions about ourselves (our intelligence) as well as those around us.

When looking at the list we also can clearly see the 4 human dimensions of our Intellectual, Physical, Emotional and Intentional selves intertwined within the various 8 intelligences. We can also see the thinking style preferences of the left brain (attention to detail, focus on known important information, focus on mechanical objects and processes) and right brain (broad context, open to unknown possibilities and connections, focus on living elements). So from a 4D Human Being perspective the multiple intelligences theory offers a broader and more integrated theory of intelligence. Why is this important?

Well, people learn and think in different ways. It may be that we particularly excel at 1, 2 or 3 of these intelligences – and that through a better understanding of this, we can take advantage of our uniqueness. Adapting our learning methods to our strongest intelligence type(s) is likely to make learning more effective and really home in on our strengths, allowing us to move forward personally and professionally in a more productive direction.

Recently I was supporting my 6 year old daughter while she was doing some science homework and she had to learn the parts of the human body. I went straight to left-brain and a linguistic intelligence (lists of words) combined with visual intelligence (diagram) approach (on autopilot from the way I was taught at school) and went over and over the list with her. An hour went by and I admit my frustration that it just wasn’t sinking in with her. So, I jumped to my feet and started dancing and pointed to the various parts on my body and in a sing-song voice shouted out the body part. She started laughing and jumped up and within 10 minutes she could point to and name every body part on the list!

Often we need experiential learning (that’s why during a 4D Human Being experience there are no desks, lots of moving around and a variety of learning approaches). The key is to start being aware of which of the 8 multiple intelligence are dominant for you and adapting your activities and learning methods to suit them. You’ll start to realize just how unique, and intelligent, you truly are.