Wednesday, July 30, 2008

7 Basic Skills

Probably the best-known theory of multiple intelligences was developed in 1983 by Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University. Dr. Gardner proposed seven then later eight different intelligences to account for a broader range of human potential in children and adults. These intelligences are:

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”)

I suggest a similar but slightly different list for the following reasons:

1. Linguistic intelligence (“word smart”)
2. Logical-mathematical intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”)

Gardner's Spatial intelligence (“picture smart”) compresses 3 areas of visual intelligence into one category. This category should read:

3. Image intelligence ("picture smart")
4. Object intelligence ("thing smart" including tactile sensing)
5. Spatial intelligence ("space smart")

6. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence (“body smart”)
7. Musical intelligence (“music smart”)

Gardner's 3 remaining areas of "intelligence", I suggest, should be part of a different list consisting of 7 things one should be intelligent about and constitute what could be called a "category error" where he mixes things we think with and things to think about.
Interpersonal intelligence (“people smart”)
Intrapersonal intelligence (“self smart”)
Naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”)
Rather than intelligences themselves these are things to be smart about - yourself, other people, and other living things. To complete that list one should add - the universe, the solar system and Earth, technology, and information.

This became clear when Gardner, after originally identifying 7 intelligences, later struggled with what to do with an 8th "Naturalist intelligence". I suggest that, at that point, he had started to co-mingle two related but distinct lists constituting a category error.

The compete list of 7 things to be smart about include:
1. The Universe (13.8 billion years)
2. Our solar system and Earth (4.5 billion years)
3. Life (3.8 million years)
4. Consciousness (150,000 years)
5. Civilization (10,000 years)
6. Technology (500 years)
7. Information (50 years)

Gardner's initial "Interpersonal" and "Intrapersonal" intelligences belong in this list and kick in at stages 4 and 5 as the first signs of human cognition appear about 150,000 years ago for consciousness and only 10,000 years ago for civilization. (Being a psychologist and neuroscientist it is understandable that he would create two categories for human consciousness while compressing 3 categories of visual-spatial intelligence into one).

His later attempt to add a natural intelligence fits into category 3 - life - and not in a list of intelligences.

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