Inventory for children multiple intelligences

Inventory for children multiple intelligences

Contrary to popular thought, measuring a person’s intelligence is more than determining “how smart a person is”, especially when one considers the idea of multiple intelligences.    As early as 1904 French psychologist Alfred Binet was hired by the French government to identify gifted students to be enrolled in “fast-track” learning courses.  The result was his widely-adopted IQ test or “Intelligence Quotient”.  Even today an IQ test is good at measuring a person’s math and language skills.  However, an inventory of a person’s intelligences includes measurements of his or her aptitude to learn new information through several different ways of thinking. 

In regards to teaching Sunday school or a youth-group, if you wish to be an effective teacher to your students, you should be able to instruct a student through a variety of techniques that are suited to his natural gifts.  For example, there is more than one way to teach a memory verse from the Bible - see "101 Ways to Teach a Verse"  The “intelligence inventory” is simply a label to be able to identify and classify the various tendencies and strengths that make up who we are.

Take a test to determine your intelligence inventory

What are the multiple intelligences?

In 1983, Harvard University psychologist, Howard Gardner identified seven intelligences in his Howard Gardnerpublication Frames of Mind.  The inventory of multiple intelligences is like a resume of talents and gifts that together form a complete person.  Howard Gardners' inventory for children multiple intelligences include:

Language Intelligence1. Linguistic intelligence is the ability to use spoken and written language effectively.  This includes gifts of poetry, oratory, memorization or foreign languages.  Students in your classrooms who score high on an inventory of multiple intelligences for language may grow up to be preachers, teachers, communicators or salespeople.  These students will be glad to read the Bible, memorize verses, speak to an audience and may be more likely to enjoy reading the poetry sections of the Bible.

Mathmatical Intelligence2. Logical-mathematical intelligence is the ability to analyze and solve problems logically or investigate issues scientifically. Howard Gardner said that logical intelligence includes the ability to detect patterns, reason deductively and think logically. Students who score high in logical-mathematical intelligence are likely to become accountants, engineers, inventors, trouble-shooters or other logic-heavy professions.  These students are going to enjoy studying the “problems” of the Bible where tensions of supposed contradictions appear.  They may respond best to the gospel by exploring the reliability of Bible prophecy or the issues in the evolution/creationism debate.

Music Intelligence3. Musical intelligence is the ability to perform, compose, and appreciate music. Interestingly, Howard Gardner determined that there was a very strong link in musical intelligence to linguistic intelligence.  Obviously, students in your class with strong musical intelligence will enjoy singing or creating music.

Spacial Intelligence4. Spatial intelligence is the ability to visually interpret the world.  This visual-art talent is expressed in drawing, sculpture and design.  Students in your class with spatial intelligence will likely appreciate projects that include creating something visual.  Fortunately, the great Bible stories are often described well through pictures, video, diagrams or timelines. 

Kinesthetic Intelligence5. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence is the ability to use one's whole body, parts of the body or tools to solve problems.  These people will likely chose to be a mechanic, trainer, contractor, craftsperson, tool and dye maker, coach, choreographer, actor.  An effective teacher who recognizes bodily-kinesthetic talent in his students will choose activities that require active movement participation such as skits, role-playing or games where student change seats, form lines or re-arrange themselves physically during the lesson.

Relational Intelligence6. Interpersonal intelligence is the ability to relate well to other people.  A person with high interpersonal intelligence will understand the intentions, motivations and desires of other people.  This type of student will enjoy the “feelings” of Christian living and the passion of God.  He may respond to God in ways different than the logical, rational, deep-thinker.  The story of the cross and God’s unmeasured love to guilty sinners should be an attractive theme to a person with high interpersonal intelligence.  Possible vocations that use the interpersonal intelligence include manager, social worker, business owner, nurse, therapist, teacher or evangelist.

Intrapersonal Intelligence7. Intrapersonal intelligence is the ability to examine one’s own self profoundly and assess one's own strengths, weaknesses, talents, and interests and apply them to set goals and solve problems.   The intrapersonal intelligence is important to visualize the future which of course includes eternity.  It is human nature to self-assess one’s self as “right before God”.  The wise teacher will use this intelligence to awaken in his students the need of salvation and the presence of sin.

If you find students in your classroom who don’t seem to learn well in the manner you best appreciate, perhaps a different approach could appeal to a different genius that is within your students.  If you are challenged to teach a student labeled as “ADD” – Attention Deficit Disorder – you can either fight with him to “sit”, “listen”, “memorize” and “recite” (strong language skills) or involve him in activities that play stronger to his kinesthetic tendencies.

While studying in college to become a middle-school teacher at the University of Northern Iowa, a professor of education told me a story and offered advice that I still remember to this day –

“One summer our family went to Cape Cod to live in a cottage.  The first night we purchased lobster and ate to our hearts content.  It was a wonderful meal and inexpensive too.  The second night we purchased another batch but we didn't appreciate them quite like the first batch.  By the third night we didn’t eat with near the same gusto as before.  By the end of the week of vacation, everyone was disgusted at the thought of eating another bite of lobster!”

The point is that even if you teach with only one approach all the time it will grow stale even if it is done very well.  Great lectures get old if lectures is all you do every week.  Watching movies would get just as boring if done constantly.  Interest in role-playing will wear out if roll-playing is done every day.  Coloring or art projects are fun if done occasionally. 

Teaching to the multiple intelligences is a common-sense approach if one considers that students have varied interests and talents.   A teacher doesn’t need to administer a diagnostic test to the class to determine how he/she is going to teach this week.  Often, it is obvious to a teacher once he gets to know his students.  Variety in the classroom is a good thing to maintain interest no matter what strengths a particular student may have.  Try to use music, cooperative learning, art activities, role play, multimedia, field trips, inner reflection, and other ideas. Not every quiz needs to be with pen and paper.  For the Sunday school teacher, the challenge is to touch the student’s mind, heart and soul with the message of the Bible so that he/she can respond to God in the matter of salvation and then again in Christian living to follow.

After Howard Gardner published his inventory for multiple intelligences, there has been plenty of suggestion and controversy to modify the list.  Other candidates for inclusion include:

8. A naturalist intelligence enables human beings to recognize, categorize and draw upon certain features of the environment. It 'combines a description of the core ability with a characterization of the role that many cultures value'
9. Moral intelligence is considered to be the ability to grapple with moral dilemmas well.  In secular or pluralistic study of education, many researchers, including Howard Gardner himself, reject the idea that a person with high spiritual intelligence will “…acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” (1 Corinthains 14:37) Instead they see this “moral talent” as a way for people to hold in the mind the ideas of moral relativism - that no universal standard exists by which to assess an ethical proposition's truth. 
10. Existential/Spiritual intelligence is the ability to grasp life’s ultimate questions - eternity, the destiny, one's purpose in life.  Some Christians would see this type of “intelligence” as a sensitivity to universal condition of being spoken to by the Spirit of God (Job 33; John 16:8-11)

If you would like to test yourself or children you know on an inventory for multiple intelligence, you may take a test for determining your strengths in learning.

By Shad Sluiter