Alongside the Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence, the Logical/Mathematical Intelligence is probably the easiest one of the eight Intelligences to recognize. “Math smart” is the simplest one to quantify, which makes it the simplest to score. Particularly in grade school, simple math skills can be tested in a very straightforward way, and there is very little gray area or interpretation to deal with. Politicians like things black and white when it comes to public schools and an institution’s ability to show “progress,” which for many has resulted in an over-emphasis on math at the expense of other types of Intelligence.
People who exhibit this type of Intelligence tend to do very well on standardized tests, but it turns out there is more to this form of Intelligence than just being able to multiply large numbers in one’s head.
The other side to this penchant for numbers is the ability to recognize patterns and think logically about how situations will play out. These people enjoy strategy games where they can plot their course many turns in advance. They like to play games of “what if” and think through the consequences. They are often very comfortable doing science experiments and other activities that have a proscribed and straightforward reasoning behind the order of operations. They wonder how things work and feel inclined to decipher things in a step-by-step progression. Logical people also like to sort things into categories; they probably alphabetize their books and like their space set up ‘just so.’ And the funny thing about advanced mathematics is that there are hardly any numbers involved, it is theorizing based on rules and imagining their limits.
You may find this surprising, but one career that a “math smart” person can excel at is the law. But, if you think about it, practicing law is not so different from a science experiment. There are protocols, an order to proceedings, and an internal logic based on past cases. If you look at the LSAT exam, which is what aspiring lawyers must take in order to enter law school, it is all based on logic.
During the course of a USAT season, students are given many chances to flex their math and logic skills. The most obvious example is during the written and oral Face-Off! rounds, when we ask them to do arithmetic or simple algebra. We have also had Mind Sprints such as “Number Jeopardy,” where students were asked to come up with their own equations to get to an answer on the board, and sometimes give teams multiple math and logic puzzles to solve at a time. Logic can also be found in the P.A.R.T.Y. in a Box prompts, where students are being asked to imagine a scenario and consider the consequences of the actions of their characters.
The third installment in our series will be about Visual/Spatial Intelligence, so check back next week to learn about people who are “picture smart.”