HUMAN INTELLIGENCE AND LEARNING
I first met my dear friend Dorai Thodla in 2001. It was the post dot com times and most of us were trying to out-think, out-smart and out perform the competition to overcome the setback caused by the bust. Dorai and I used to huddle to see how his technology or application could assist my then firm to become innovative and competitive in the popular “more with less” culture to achieve productivity and results. From the very outset we realized that while we had complimentary skills, we also had common interests in reading, books, innovation, learning and particularly learning for kids.
It is during those times that he suggested the book Accelerated Learning for the 21st Century to me. The framework highlighted in that book has been a framework with which we have tried to expose our kids. I have always been amazed at the ease with which some kids before the age of 7 or 8 are able to pick up several things – music, math, reading, drawing, writing, sports etc., rather effortlessly. While we have not necessarily put a progress report to check on all the aspects of the MASTER approach with our kids, or I should rather say that it is work in progress :-), I would not be surprised if they have embedded the MASTER approach in their thinking process thru gradual training and adaptation. It is only befitting that I write a little bit about the book here.
In 1985 Colin Rose wrote a book called Accelerated Learning that brought together leading research at that time to show how learning could be an enjoyable and satisfying experience. Using this research Rose developed the highly successful and effective Accelerated Learning Language courses that you have probably seen advertised in the press. With the onset of the Millennium, Colin Rose has teamed up with Malcolm Nicholl to update his groundbreaking book for the next century. This book is packed with useful information not only for the academic seeking to research the whole issue of learning and thinking, but also for the concerned parent, the corporate trainer and yes the most important person of all – the interested learner. The authors put the need to be an effective learner into the context of today’s ever evolving information age and have developed a six point blueprint for success in Learning. Using the acronym M*A*S*T*E*R their plan can be summarized as follows:
Step 1 – Motivating your Mind.
Step 2 – Acquiring the Information.
Step 3 – Searching out the Meaning.
Step 4 – Triggering the Memory.
Step 5 – Exhibiting what you Know.
Step 6 – Reflecting on How you have Learned.
By examining each step in detail Rose and Nicholl explain the application of the blueprint, backing up their claims with examples of success from their own work and that of other researchers. There are separate chapters for teachers and trainers, the corporate world and schools. Also discussed are the areas of Creative and Analytical Thought. Most relevant to Project HappyChild is the Chapter entitled “It’s never too early”. This explains in great detail about the importance of providing a stimulating environment for your children from the day that they are born to maximize the development of their learning abilities. Just for this chapter alone, I will be recommending the book to everyone I know who might possibly have anything whatsoever to do with the upbringing of children. After reading this book you will understand your own learning style, and that of your children and how to exploit it so that you and your children can learn effectively, efficiently and have fun doing so. I would like to see every teacher given a copy of this book because if the information in it were applied in the classrooms of the world, we would see a dramatic change in the results (both academic and more importantly social) that schools produce.
Here is a quick overview I gathered about the concept:
Exploring “The Theory of Multiple Intelligences”
How would the proverbial Martian landing on Earth view the intelligence of the human species?” That’s the provocative question asked by Harvard professor of education, Howard Gardner.
Gardener developed the “Theory of Multiple Intelligences” which says, in effect, that IQ should not be measured as an absolute figure in the way that height, weight or blood pressure are. It’s a crucial blunder, he maintains, to assume that IQ is a single fixed entity which can be measured by a pencil and paper test.
It’s not how smart you are but how you are smart, says Gardner. As human beings, we all have a repertoire of skills, he says, for solving different kinds of problems. And he defines intelligence this way: “Intelligence is an ability to solve a problem or fashion a product which is valued in one or more cultural settings.”
Gardner revealed his theory in his ground-breaking book “Frames of Mind” in which he outlined seven distinct intelligences. He subsequently added an eighth.
The Accelerated Learning Network has taken Gardner’s theory and put it into practice, creating products for students of all ages. These products enable the student to learn according to his own learning preferences no matter how he is being taught. In addition, we run through a cycle of learning activities involving all Intelligences so that everyone has an equal opportunity to learn.
Here are the eight Intelligences:
The ability to think in pictures, visualize a future result. To imagine things in your mind’s eye. Architects, sculptors, sailors, photographers and strategic planners. You use it when you have a sense of direction, when you navigate or draw.
Famous examples: Picasso, Frank Lloyd Wright
Linguistic Intelligence ( exposing the child to learn as many languages as possible early on)
The ability to read , write and communicate with words. Authors, journalists, poets, orators and comedians are obvious examples of people with linguistic intelligence.
- Famous examples: Charles Dickens, Abraham Lincoln, T.S. Eliot, Sir Winston Churchill.
The ability for self-analysis and reflection–to be able to quietly contemplate and assess one’s accomplishments, to review one’s behavior and innermost feelings, to make plans and set goals, the capacity to know oneself. Philosophers, counselors, and many peak performers in all fields of endeavor have this form of intelligence.
- Famous examples: Freud, Eleanor Roosevelt, Plato.
Musical Intelligence ( expose to as many musical instruments and music or play classical music in the background when kids are at home or doing homework)
The ability to make or compose music, to sing well, or understand and appreciate music. To keep rhythm. It’s a talent obviously enjoyed by musicians, composers, and recording engineers. But most of us have a musical intelligence which can be developed. Think of how helpful it is to learn with a jingle or rhyme (e.g. “Thirty days has September…”).
- Famous examples: Mozart, Leonard Bernstein, Ray Charles.
Logical-Mathematical Intelligence ( encourage kids to participate in shopping, counting trees, cars etc while growing up)
The ability to reason and calculate, to think things through in a logical, systematic manner. These are the kinds of skills highly developed in engineers, scientists, economists, accountants, detectives and members of the legal profession.
- Famous examples: Albert Einstein, John Dewey.
The ability to work effectively with others, to relate to other people, and display empathy and understanding, to notice their motivations and goals. This is a vital human intelligence displayed by good teachers, facilitators, therapists, politicians, religious leaders and sales people.
- Famous examples: Gandhi, Ronald Reagan, Mother Teresa, Oprah Winfrey.
The ability to recognize flora and fauna, to make other consequential distinctions in the natural world and to use this ability productively–for example in hunting, farming, or biological science. Farmers, botanists, conservationists, biologists, environmentalists would all display aspects of the intelligence.
- Famous examples: Charles Darwin, E.O. Wilson.
In 1996, Gardner decided to add an eighth intelligence (Naturalist) and in spite of much speculation resisted the temptation to add a ninth–Spiritualist Intelligence.
The ability to use your body skillfully to solve problems, create products or present ideas and emotions. An ability obviously displayed for athletic pursuits, dancing, acting, artistically, or in building and construction. You can include surgeons in this category but many people who are physically talented–”good with their hands”–don’t recognize that this form of intelligence is of equal value to the other intelligences.
- Famous examples: Charlie Chaplin, Michael Jordan.
Applying the trick to remember given in this book as well as something that has always worked for me, commit to memory (CTM-another code taught in 6th grade by my math teacher Mr, Manjunath), the acronym (SLIM LINK – Spatial, Linguistic, Intrapersonal, Musical, Logical, Interpersonal, Natural and Kinesthetic).
Traditionally, academic subjects have been taught in ways that largely involve two intelligences–linguistic and logical-mathematical. Now consider what an IQ test basically measures–ability with words and numbers. So students who are naturally strong in linguistic and mathematical intelligences do well on the standard Stanford-Binet IQ test.
Therefore, it’s a fairly good predictor of success at school because the way we teach (lectures) and the material with which we deal (logically constructed books) depend heavily on these two intelligences. Since teachers are drawn from people who do well at school, it’s a self-perpetuating system.
But is an IQ result a good predictor of happiness, of economic success, of success in relationships, of success in life? Not really. In a modern society, of course, linguistic and logical-mathematical ability are very important, but there are six other intelligences.
It is when you marshal all of your intelligences that you really begin to use your full brain power. I intend to spend some time reading and understand the now famous EQ or Emotional Quotient and see if I can get some answers or association there.