“Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by it’s a ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing it’s stupid” - Albert Einstein.
Each of us has a unique set of skills and talents that make us the individual that we are, but unfortunately this is often forgotten. We try so hard to fit into the boxes that society tells us to, and when we cannot we believe there must be something wrong. If we try to put a square peg in a round hole, we are always going to struggle. As such we need to appreciate our differences and recognise our own strengths.
The theory of multiple intelligences was introduced by Howard Gardner with his early work in psychology and later in human cognition and human potential. His work extended the three basic categories in which people learn (Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic) to initially six intelligences. Today there are nine intelligences and there is a possibility that this will be extended even further in the future. Gardner believed that these intelligences (or competencies) related to a persons unique set of capabilities and the way that they prefer to demonstrate their intellectual abilities.
The nine intelligences are as follows:
Verbal-linguistic intelligence (well-developed verbal skills and sensitivity to the sounds, meanings and rhythms of words)
Logical-mathematical intelligence (ability to think conceptually and abstractly, and capacity to discern logical and numerical patterns)
Spatial-visual intelligence (capacity to think in images and pictures, to visualise accurately and abstractly)
Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence (ability to control one’s body movements and to handle objects skilfully)
Musical intelligences (ability to produce and appreciate rhythm, pitch and timber)
Interpersonal intelligence (capacity to detect and respond appropriately to the moods, motivations and desires of others)
Intrapersonal intelligence (capacity to be self-aware and in tune with inner feelings, values, beliefs and thinking processes)
Naturalist intelligence (ability to recognise and categorise plants, animals and other objects in nature)
Existential intelligence (sensitivity and capacity to tackle deep questions about human existence such as, What is the meaning of life? Why do we die? How did we get here?)
Human potential can be tied to one’s preferences to learning. People have a unique blend of capabilities and skills (intelligences). Gardner asserts that people who have an affinity toward one of the intelligences do so in concert with the other intelligences as “they develop skills and solve problems”. We never develop skills in isolation but rather in conjunction with our other skill/talents/intelligences. Different members of your family may have completely different skills or approaches to problems and this is not a bad thing. If our children seems to approach challenges differently to us, we often tend to try steer them towards our intelligences, take note of this and encourage thinking differently at home.
The Sum is greater than the parts
We are all complicated beings who are comprised of many different and interesting parts, interests and abilities. It is crucial to remember that we are not simply what we are good at, for example, if a child is a great cricketer or academic, it does not mean that that is all that there is to them. If we do focus on only one or a few aspects of who we are we will tend to develop a sense of imbalance and unease within ourselves. The complex nature of human beings means that we have numerous aspects that require attention and effort, these are represented below in the pie chart of Individual Wellness. It is important for us to invest time and effort into all of the aspects listed in the diagram as these all contribute to who we are as a person. You may believe that finances for example are not your responsibility in the home and therefore you don't give this much consideration at all, however the fact of the matter is that finances play a significant part of our daily functioning and planning and so we need to take an invested interest in this. The same applies to all the aspects listed. How we put effort or attention on each aspect is very much up to the individual and you need to find your own balance. At home it will be crucial to encourage your children to seek this balance too and to help them explore different ways of investing time into each domain.
Take some time to analyse what you invest most of your time into, what are the aspects that are lacking attention in your life? What areas do you encourage your children to focus on and what areas do we “help” our children to neglect?
At the end of the day we are trying to help develop our children into well-rounded individuals who can take on the world and all the challenges that it will throw at them. To do this we need to help equip them with a well-rounded set of skills and problem solving abilities as well as an understanding of the multiple domains that contribute to their daily functioning.
We can be so much more effective and productive when we use all the various “components” that make up the “whole” of us.