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

The Naturalist Intelligence

For the final installment in our Multiple Intelligences series, we’ll be looking at one of the types of intelligence that can be the hardest to recognize. In fact, Howard Gardner, who first put forth the theory of multiple intelligences in 1983, did not include Naturalist Intelligence in his original list of seven types of strengths. It took until 1994 for him to start discussing an eighth intelligence, and it appeared formally the first time in his 1999 book, Reframing Intelligence. (Source)

What Does Naturalist Intelligence Mean?

In the simplest terms, it means that a person exhibits “nature smarts.” This can take the form of always wanting to be outside, an affinity for getting dirty, or a natural curiosity about plants and animals. If you’ve ever had a student who could tell you the scientific name of of their favorite beetle, then you’ve had one of these little nature lovers in your life. They will be interested in the birds flocking South for the winter, and will happily report on how many new buds appear on your houseplants.

Those character traits are pretty easy to spot, but by extension, people possessing the Naturalist Intelligence are also aware of their environments in a different way than others. Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence can help a person mentally map their surroundings in terms of their own body, but is tailored to taking in a situation or environment as it stands. A naturalist will be in tune with how the environment is subject to changes. They are able to see patterns where others just see chance, and make connections between cause and effect that many don’t see.

This is achieved by having heightened sensory perception. These people literally see, smell, hear, touch, and taste more than the rest of us. They probably don’t even realize it is happening; the patterns their brains pick out are simply self-evident. The naturalist is likely baffled by how the average person can miss so much that is right in front of their faces.

In our fast-paced, tech-obsessed lives, it is painfully easy to overlook the value of Naturalist Intelligence. We spend so little of our time outside, interacting with the natural world, these tendencies could never have a chance to manifest. When you can ask a search engine how many petals a daisy has, there’s little incentive to actually get off the couch and look at a daisy.*

This means that as parents, coaches, and teachers, it has to be our job to take away that screen time sometimes and make our students go outside to see the forest and the trees. When a triathlete gets excited about the biology questions on Face-Off! Or begs to go to the zoo for your team-building field trip, it’s time to sit up and take notice. You’ve got a naturalist on your hands!

Want to find out more about the other facets of the Multiple Intelligence theory? Check out our posts on Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence, Math/Logic Intelligence, Visual/Spatial Intelligence, Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence, Musical Intelligence, and Intra/Inter Personal Intelligences.

*The answer is 21 petals.

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

Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence

It may seem strange to think of a person who is “intelligent” when it comes to her body, given that in many Western societies we regard the mind and the physical self to be separate. In fact, the relationship could even be regarded as combative, as shown by phrases such as “mind over matter” and being told to use willpower to overcome those donut cravings. Some philosophies endeavor to completely rid humans of their ties to the physical world and only elevate people who can achieve deep trances to the highest levels of being.

In truth, our bodies and our minds are inextricably tied, and as medical science becomes more sophisticated it is getting hard to deny it. Hormones and other neurochemicals can be tied to a variety of conditions that have specific and measurable effects on our mental health. Likewise, physical symptoms such as a loss of appetite or sympathetic pains for a loved one can be caused by our brain activity.

People who possess the Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence are those who find their bodies much easier to understand and manipulate than their thoughts. Where a visually intelligent person can approximate the distance between the ball and the basket, a “body smart” person will be able to make the shot. Their brains and bodies are in sync in a way that other peoples’ are not, and physical tasks such as dancing or fixing an engine may appear effortless. These are the craftsmen and the builders, the farmers and the firefighters, the performers and the athletes in our world. They tend to enjoy outdoor activities and vigorous hobbies that require exertion in exchange for adrenaline.

In USAT, we try to engage our students physically as well as mentally. During PA.R.T.Y. in a Box challenges, teams are often encouraged to add dancing or some other type of movement in order to garner extra points. They are given physical tasks, such as getting ping pong balls to land in an egg carton, during Mind Sprints, and we reward quick reflexes during the oral Face-Off! round.

Next week, we’ll take a look at Musical Intelligence. In case you missed them, check out the posts about Verbal Intelligence, Mathematical Intelligence, and Visual Intelligence.

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

Visual/Spatial Intelligence

We discussed Mathematical/Logical Intelligence last time, but the funny thing about math is that it is not all about numbers. Depending on the branch of mathematics you are looking at, there may be very few equations at the heart. Geometry, for instance, may have rules such as d=2r, but at its heart it is a discipline that is more about space and the relationships between the measurements than it is about the actual numbers. For this reason, someone who has a terrible time learning Algebra may have no trouble at all mastering another type of math.

People who exhibit Visual/Spatial Intelligence tend to be the dreamers and the visual artists. They can see something clearly in their minds, and then they can bring that vision into being because their bodies cooperate with what they see. At its heart, drawing something accurately has to do with the relationship between the lines, the distance between and the way curves and corners intersect. People with this aptitude don’t just see what is, but they can see what isn’t at the same time. In other words, the space between things can be manipulated just as much as the objects themselves.

These types of people are very good at visual puzzles, such as dual image illusions. These types of challenges “tickle the brain” of a person with Visual/Spatial Intelligence.

Can you see the people talking to each other?
Can you see the people talking to each other?

They are very good at giving and following directions between places. Even though they can describe a place or thing they saw in vivid detail, they probably took a hundred pictures while they were looking at it. And though they will likely prefer a book with pictures, they will also be able to clearly set the scene in their minds if they are reading a book that doesn’t.

For the writers of USAT, this is one of the Intelligences that is the most difficult to integrate, but we try to give people with this propensity a chance to shine in the Mind Sprint round. For instance, during the last Round Robin, we asked students to look at pictures of a three-dimensional object and imagine how to make a pattern for it. As a visual artist herself, Creative Director Alison Weaverdyck has also been giving teams more drawing challenges, such as the Team Crest Mind Sprint at the first Round Robin. We have also challenged them to judge distances while throwing ping-pong balls or bean bags.

Good luck to all of our teams at the third Round Robin this weekend! The Multiple Intelligences series will return on Feb. 29 when we will take a look at Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence.

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.