Are we really the same type of intelligent?

I must apologize for staying this long without writing. To be honest, I was having a self-induced writer’s block from the beginning of the year because I saw that bloggers who had wider audiences were blogging about hair, gossip, everyday life, basically everything that I never write about, LOL. So I started wondering whether what I wrote even mattered, until a couple of people started independently asking me “Why haven’t you written in a while?” and these were some of the ghost-readers who never comment, kind of like me. So I had to redefine why I write and who I think reads my writing. I kinda realized that I used to write to show how much English I’ve mastered and how opinionated I am, and whereas those are almost good reasons for writing, they are not enough for my confidence not to be shaken when I realized that what I refer to as “shallow” topics, were being consumed more because they make people laugh, and people can relate to them. So, instead of showing off, I’ll tell you why I really write. I write to express myself and my ideas; I write to share the knowledge that I have gathered from mostly others so that those who read can learn something new from the writing; I write because just like everyone else, there is something I have learnt from someone else, that you may need to know.

Well, enough of that rant, whining has never been my forte really. So here I am, trying to show you something new about the world, again, hoping that for once, the people who agree with me can at least be more than those who disagree with me. 😀 In high school, there was this guy in my class who at that moment I considered really strange but a rather nice guy. He was a loner, who spent his time in the music room or trying to fit in with the rest of us other guys who were busy checking girls out, playing soccer, insulting each other’s Bata shoes or overfeeding in the dining hall. Of course he never really fit in, because inasmuch as the rest of us boys were not passing exams, we were basically staying afloat academically; he wasn’t. Let’s call him Simon. So Simon, to give you a clear picture, was a misfit when it came to fitting in with the guys; was clumsy so he hardly enjoyed a game of football with the rest of us, never went out with us because he had overly-strict parents and was drowning academically to say the least. Yeah, yeah, saying this out loud right now makes me seem like an ass but everyone knows that one or two awkward guys whose future you always cast a doubt on in high school, but always did extremely well in one thing.

Simon’s one thing was music. My God the brother could sing no homo. When it came to singing, composing music, playing drums, blowing flutes (yes, ONLY the flute), playing the piano, the guy was a superstar, it’s like he transformed into someone else. The music room was his domain, no one could tell him anything once those doors were shut and he sat at the piano and started playing and singing. That was where he thrived. Looking back, I realized that we were all very nasty to him because he was not too quick-witted, he could not play soccer and he failed in the classroom consistently. I only realized this after coming into contact with Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory.

Basically, the theory-posited in 1983-suggests that there are nine types of intelligence: verbal-linguistic, naturalist, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, existential, interpersonal, intrapersonal, musical and visual-spatial. Intelligence is simply about how someone processes information that is obtained through the senses in order to form meaning and by extension communicates this meaning to the world. You can read about it and take a test here

Simon was musically intelligent; that was how he understood the world, through rhythm and sound and musical notes and instruments. His footsteps made a beat, he always had a biro and a pencil in different hands in class and was always making silent beats against his desk; he was always humming the musical scenes in our literature text books, always played the drums when we had a school assembly, you get the picture. His model of the world was through music.

Gillian Lynne was a British dancer and choreographer. When she was younger, her mother took her to a doctor (in the 1940s) because her mother just couldn’t understand why Gillian was unable to focus in class and she was under-performing academically. Lucky her, if it was during our time she would have received a hearty beating and told to put in more effort, anyway, I digress. So after a rant to the doctor by her mother, and an initial observation of Gillian’s fidgeting and constant movement, the doctor ushered her mother out and left the room himself such that Gillian was left in the room alone with music playing. As soon as they left, Gillian was on her feet dancing and moving to the music and the doctor told her mother that there was nothing wrong with her daughter; Gillian was a dancer, and she should be enrolled in a dance school. Gillian Lynne went on to become one of the world’s best dancers and choreographers, including being involved in choreographing two of the longest-running productions in history, Cats and Phantom of the Opera. This example is not to help someone pursue an unrealistic passion of being that deejay they’ve always dreamed of becoming but to show that embracing one’s wiring is vital in building a successful future and understanding others.

We castigated Simon because the forms of intelligence most recognized in school are the linguistic and mathematical intelligence, the rest are called talents and viewed as extras. I am fortunate enough to understand the world in words and communication so I happened to do well in school but how about others who understand the world through nature, music or sports? We so often rate intelligence based on school performances where the smartest are those who get the highest grades, the rest who are musically-inclined we call talents, those who are inter-personally inclined we call “street smart” and those who are kinesthetically-inclined we call “hobbies”. People do not choose how they understand the world, because we are all wired to understand it differently. The best way to be effective in this world is to be comfortable in your own skin, meaning you have to know what type of skin you wear. Perhaps it is time we discovered our type(s) of intelligence so that we can be intentional about giving ourselves fully to the world and to ourselves. Also so that the next time we think lowly of someone because they are not in our engineering or law classes; the next time we consider ourselves intellectually superior to a mechanic, we can remember that it’s not because they’re dumber than we are. It’s only because the capitalist society we live in values your form of intelligence more than his.


8 thoughts on “Are we really the same type of intelligent?”

  1. “It’s only because the capitalist society we live in values your form of intelligence more than his.”
    Love it. Pretty much encompasses everything.

    No more judgemental but more encouragement.

    The world would be boring if we were all the same, anyway.

    Awesome post and keep writing.

  2. “The best way to be effective in this world is to be comfortable in your own skin, meaning you have to know what type of skin you wear. Perhaps it is time we discovered our type(s) of intelligence so that we can be intentional about giving ourselves fully to the world and to ourselves.”
    Intelligence is a pretty abstract term. You ask the right questions and the answers you receive guide you not to undermine someone’s brain-abilities. Judging someone based on their schooling is pretty shallow.
    Such a legit read.
    *Mapenzi.Love* 🙂

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