By Shivi Verma September 2012 Dumb? Who you? No way. Spiritual texts and the introduction of concepts such as Spiritual Intelligence tell us that we have limitless capacity and capability. So throw away your self-doubt and uncover your inner genius, says Shivi Verma Different strokesUnderstanding Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences In 1983, Howard Gardner proposed a model of intelligence that branches out into various specific sensory modalities. Gardner argues that there is a wide range of cognitive abilities, and that there is not much correlation among them. Many educationalists support the practical value of the approaches suggested by him.He pinpointed several skills to be qualified as intelligence which include Spatial, Linguistic, Logical-mathematical, Bodily-kinaesthetic, Musical, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Naturalistic and existential too to some extent. Logical-mathematical intelligence: This area highlights logic, reasoning, numbers and critical thinking. Those with this intelligence excel in mathematics, chess, computer programming and other logical or numerical activities. Spatial: This area deals with the ability to visualise with the mind’s eye. Careers which suit those with this type of intelligence include artists, designers and architects. A spatial person is also good with puzzles. Linguistic: People with high verbal-linguistic intelligence are typically good at reading, writing, telling stories and memorising words along with dates. Such people learn foreign languages very easily. Bodily-kinaesthetic: The core elements of the bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence are control of one’s bodily motions and the capacity to handle objects skilfully. Such people have a sense of timing, a clear sense of the goal of a physical action, along with the ability to train responses to act like reflexes. Athletes, pilots, dancers, musicians, actors, surgeons, builders, and soldiers have a high amount of such intelligence. Musical: This area deals with sensitivity to sounds, rhythms, tones, and music. People with a high musical intelligence normally have good pitch and are able to sing, play instruments, and compose music. They have sensitivity to rhythm, pitch, meter, tone, melody or timbre. Singers, conductors, disc jockeys, orators, writers and composers are blessed with this intelligence. Interpersonal: Individuals who have high interpersonal intelligence are characterised by their sensitivity to others’ moods, feelings, temperaments and motivations, and their ability to cooperate in order to work as part of a group. Salesmen, politicians, managers, teachers, counsellors and social workers display high amount of this intelligence. Intrapersonal: Introspective and self-reflective capacities includes a deep understanding of the self; what your strengths and weaknesses are, being able to predict your own reactions/emotions. Philosophical and critical thinking is common with this intelligence. Many people with this intelligence are authors, psychologists, counsellors, philosophers, and members of the clergy. Naturalistic: This area has to do with nurturing and relating information to one’s natural surroundings. Examples include classifying natural forms such as animal and plant species and rocks and mountain types; and the applied knowledge of nature in farming, mining, etc. Careers which suit those with this intelligence include naturalists, farmers and gardeners. There was always a debate raging around me. While my parents, neighbours and friends thought me intelligent, there were a few teachers, relatives and cousins who thought otherwise. Funnily enough, both sides could prove their point with conviction. While I showed a great capacity to understand life and human nature, could see the merit in value-based behaviour, could hold my own in any intellectual discussion, and was good at writing, singing, sketching, and speaking, I was pathetic at quantitative matters. My memory was bad. I could barely add two and two together, and I found science insipid. It was hard for me to understand directions, repair broken instruments, or plan a timetable. Though I could discern the pain of mute animals, opt for ethical rather than self-serving choices, and fight against injustice, I was made to believe that they had no value in today’s slick world. Fortunately at the age of 26, I was initiated into a meditation practice by a close friend. Suddenly the fog lifted. I felt a rush of light entering my third eye chakra and lifting my consciousness. After that – albeit for a brief time – my mind began to function like a dream. Smooth, sharp and efficient like a well-oiled machine. Discipline, order, mindfulness, precision, alertness, and attentiveness became my second name. If anyone misplaced an object, I could tell them where to find it. Whichever direction we were bound, I could always devise a shorter route. If a child had trouble in physics I could easily solve it. My other natural faculties too became honed. I could automatically understand a dog’s communication, and even that of crows! I could touch an aching body part and heal it in minutes and foresee approaching troubles as well as good times. I could write verses in Urdu (the words flowed naturally even though the script did not), read people’s minds and hearts as easily as a book, pray and get their desires fulfilled. My brilliance initially impressed, then spooked those around me. Daniel Goleman credited emotional intelligence withbeing the bedrock of achievement But soon the phase got over and I was back to my old self. Only this time, I no longer felt inadequate. The experience had given me a new confidence and I was eager to operate from my own strengths and weaknesses instead of trying to be someone else. We all have different paths but to proclaim one as superior to another comes from a need to feel superior. As it happens this view is endorsed by increasingly new definitions of what intelligence actually means. Where IQ fails The world’s first attempt to grade and evaluate intelligence was in 1905 by psychologists Alfred Binet and Théodore Simon in France. Called the Binet-Simon test, it was used to determine the rate of progress of mentally retarded children. In 1916, American psychologist Lewis Termanat of Stanford University revised the Binet-Simon scale, which resulted in the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales. During World War I a way was needed to evaluate and assign recruits. This led to the rapid development of several mental tests. In such tests intelligence was determined on the basis of parameters such as verbal, reasoning, associative memory, spatial and mathematical abilities. The Intelligence Quotient (IQ) test in many avatars was the paramount gauge of intelligence for many decades, even though many experts recognised its limitations, and no one could quite agree on what intelligence actually was. The emotional intelligence factor Although Howard Gardner’s model of multiple intelligence in 1983 (see box) broadened the traditional IQ definition of intelligence, the biggest jolt to its predominance occurred quite recently in 1995. Daniel Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ, rattled the world’s perception of intelligence. In a striking example of the limitations of IQ, he narrates the case of Jason H, a sophomore and straight A student at Coral Springs, Florida. “(He) was fixated on getting into medical school in Harvard. But Pologruto, his physics teacher, gave him 80 on a quiz. Believing the grade, a mere B, put his dream in jeopardy, Jason took a butcher knife to school and after confronting the teacher, stabbed him in the collarbone. Years later, even though Jason graduated with highest honours, his old physics teacher complained that Jason never apologised or took responsibility for the attack. The question is how could someone of such obvious intelligence do something so irrational – so outright dumb? The answer: Academic intelligence has little to do with emotional life. People with high IQs can be stunningly poor pilots of their private lives. Whereas there are many people with modest IQ who do surprisingly well…the difference quite often lies in the abilities called emotional intelligence which include self-control, zeal and persistence and the ability to motivate oneself.” As a kid I may not have heard of Daniel Goleman, but I intuitively resisted undergoing an IQ test. For one I felt that I would not be able to score high, and secondly I felt that the test would not be able to measure my full capacities. Was the capacity to analyse logically or calculate numbers all that mattered? Why did kindness, forbearance, truthfulness, and uprightness not figure anywhere? Did it not require intelligence to understand the emotional turmoil of another and give solace? On the other hand, I saw many relationships fall apart because of one person’s need to impose his intellectual superiority on the other. A couple I know are highly qualified, and enviably placed. Both have high IQs, but that fact has not helped them forge a happy relationship. Convinced of their own superiority, not a day passed without a quarrel on who was more right or more bright. Life was a game of one-upmanship. Love, patience, forgiveness, compassion, humility, and forbearance were either considered virtues of the weak or buried deep under the hubris of colossal intellectual pride. Marita Nazareth, workshop facilitator and Emotional Intelligence (EQ) expert says, “The ability to use the faculty of IQ at the right time and with the right person depends largely on how developed your emotional quotient is. There are people who will score very high in an IQ test but fail miserably in life. There is a higher probability of a person succeedi
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