You think you are smart?

Chinwe Nlemoha Written by Chinwe Nlemoha · 2 min read >

“If we judged a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing the idea is stupid”

Albert Einstein

What makes you think you are smart or smarter than those around you?

In my work with students, I have observed that there are different characteristics among students in the classroom. I saw that one student can understand numbers easily while another finds music interesting. Another student relates with everyone else when we go out to play and some others just choose to play with ants.

At first, it was weird trying to understand why a child will choose to play with ants over his classmates when there was no tension between them. I also found out that some outspoken children do not perform well in written exams. While some numbers children, do not perform well in fine arts.

So I carried out a research to understand what was going on and my findings were amazing.

What did I found out?

One morning in 1983, Howard Gardner woke up and told the world that he was not convinced with the pattern of calling certain people smart and others dull. He went on to document his thoughts in a book known as “Frames of Mind.” In the book, Gardner challenged the widely held notion that intelligence is a single general capacity possessed by individuals to a greater or lesser extent.

In more relatable terms, people are not only intelligent when they score well on a test or speak up faster than others.

Gathering a wealth of evidence, Gardner postulated the existence of nine different intelligences, emphasizing that they were all important. He added that whatever intelligence a person has is what comprises a unique cognitive profile for the person.

Do you know what this means?

It simply means everybody cannot be a doctor or a lawyer or whatever you think smart is.

We do not all have to score 300+ in Jamb or GRE to be smart, you are smart in your own right!

Welcome to the theory of Multiple Intelligences

The theory of multiple intelligences states that rather than defining intelligence as a single general ability, we should see it as ‘modalities of intelligence.’

I will give an example.

Let us imagine you have been awarded a contract and you tell yourself, “oh! I need a bunch of smart guys to work on this.” So, you went out and got a bunch of 1st class graduates in mathematics, medicine and physics. You knew they were good with numbers and logical reasoning. They managed to come up with the plan, but they got stuck.

“Wait a minute! Who will execute the plan?” “Who was going to give the presentation?” “What will happen to our months of labour?” Nobody was good with words or building.

So, you went out again to look for communication graduates and builders. Hopefully, this should solve your problem.

Then, the minister announces that part of your contract will be to plan for a grand ceremony for the event. You realized your team could not entertain themselves, let alone a crowd. They could not decorate a hall for an event. This is going to be a disaster! You could smell boredom already.

Gardner’s thoughts

This is what Gardner was saying, everyone is smart in his right. He identified the intelligences as musical- rhythmic and harmonic intelligence; visual -spatial intelligence; linguistic- verbal intelligence; logical- mathematical intelligence; bodily- kinesthetic intelligence; interpersonal intelligence; intrapersonal intelligence; naturalistic intelligence and existential intelligence.

If we were being honest, we admire people that have intelligences that we do not have. For instance, I like people that can dance well and have good moves. I spend hours on YouTube watching dance moves. Although, I may not dance so well, those dancers are super intelligent to me.

Final thoughts

When your younger sibling tells you he/she wants to be an artist, hug him/her and tell her she is smart. As smart as anybody can be!

If we were all Albert Einstein, who will be Mozart? Where will Shakespeare be? What about Michelangelo and Picasso?

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