For Coaches and Teachers, For Parents, Multiple Intelligences, Resources

Logical/Mathematical Intelligence

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.

5864596642_8f1fe8b09c_zThe 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.”

Multiple Intelligences, Resources

The Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence

In this first installment of our Multiple Intelligences series, we decided it would be a good idea to differentiate between “Intelligences” and “learning styles.” There is definitely some overlap between a few of the styles and the various intelligences, but they are not the same thing at their heart. In brief, a learning style refers to the way a person prefers (or is more naturally inclined) to receive and process new information. Intelligences deal more with a person’s inherent interests and abilities.

Both the verbal learning style and the Linguistic/Verbal Intelligence deal with words, but in a different way. For instance, if a person has a verbal learning style, they will prefer to take in new information (on any topic) through words. This may be in the form of reading or listening to a lecture. On the other hand, a person who exhibits the Linguistic/Verbal Intelligence (word smarts) may have a verbal learning style, or they may not. And a person with a verbal learning style may be very interested in listening to a lecture about science and take in all of the information, but could be bored and distracted in English class regardless of the way the teacher is teaching the subject.

Funny-Meme1What defines the Linguistic/Verbal Intelligence is the internalizing of grammar rules, remembering new words they learn, and enjoying puns and word games. These people will often excel at foreign languages because of their innate ability to recognize grammar rules and remember them. They read for pleasure and easily remember quotes. In essence, they enjoy language for language’s sake rather than it just being a tool for taking in new information. Here are a few more examples:

  • They enjoy rhymes, alliteration, and puns.
  • They will talk about things they have read and be able to verbalize why they liked or disliked them.
  • They most likely write poems and stories, because reading them isn’t enough.
  • They correct other people’s grammar and word usage.
  • They know definitions of words that others will not, and use those “fancy” words in conversation.

In our USAT Meets, we try to appeal to students who have this inclination by asking them specific grammar and vocabulary questions, as well as quizzing them on new and classic literature during Face-Off! In the past, we have also had Mind Sprints where a person who exhibits Linguistic/Verbal Intelligence can shine, such as “Connectors” in the second Round Robin. In this challenge, teams were given dominoes with word parts on them, and they had to recognize combinations of three dominoes that made two complete words.

Next week we’ll take a look at the second of the eight Multiple Intelligences, Logical/Mathematical Intelligence.

Multiple Intelligences, Resources

Introduction to Multiple Intelligences


At its most basic, the Theory of Multiple Intelligences tells us there is more than one type of ‘smart.’ No, we aren’t talking ‘street smarts’ vs. ‘book smarts,’ it goes so much broader than that.

This way of thinking about education was put forward by a pedagogical specialist named Howard Gardner in 1983. There has been some revision and debate over the years, and the number of different intelligences can range from seven to nine, depending on who you read. Between now and the end of this USAT season, we will use the time to explore the different sorts of intelligences, how we address them in our program, and ways to engage these different types of learners.

Gardner’s original theory identified eight different intelligences:

  • Linguistic intelligence (“word smart”)
  • Logical-mathematical intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”)
  • Spatial intelligence (“picture smart”)
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence (“body smart”)
  • Musical intelligence (“music smart”)
  • Interpersonal intelligence (“people smart”)
  • Intrapersonal intelligence (“self smart”)
  • Naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”)

The public school system in the United states tends to concentrate on the first two types, so we will tackle those first before moving on to some novel ways of thinking about engaging students and the different ways that people can be gifted. So, check back next week for discussion of #1, Linguistic Intelligence.