Howard Gardner took intelligence out of the classroom and the IQ tests. He argues that the IQ tests mostly assess a person’s logical-mathematical intelligence, whereas the person may be exquisitely intelligent in many other dimensions such as sports, dance, acting, writing, thinking… The classrooms also test only two of the nine kinds of intelligences that Gardner listed: linguistic intelligence and logical-mathematical intelligence. Funny enough, most people who get on successfully with their life don’t score well in IQ tests and didn’t score well in their classroom tests either.
A former student of mine sent me an email wishing me to fill the voids in my life with the colours of Holi. I don’t celebrate Holi for the simple reason that my body reacts strongly to chemicals. And voids in life? Can anyone fill them with the colours of Holi? Maybe. Myth can fill a lot of void in one’s life. And myths are as colourful as Holi.
Did my former student mean that? I am absolutely sure he didn’t. I am not fond of myths anyway. There are many students who play many games in the life of their teachers, especially in a residential school, and more especially in a residential school that makes use of students to play certain games against teachers who don’t toe the administrative line.
I became familiar with people’s games at a very late stage in life, in my thirties. Strangely, I had an overprotected life until then. Once I became familiar with those games in quite a painful way, I decided to avoid societies. I now live in a very closed society, the society of a few hundred students, their teachers, and other staff associated with them like the barber and the tailor and the dhobi. I have little to do with anyone except the students. The students are in general too young to play adult games except when adults provoke them. Most often the provocation becomes clear in a little while.
Yet there are students who play games. Intelligent games. Many students don’t have the first two intelligences listed by Gardner, but excel in the other intelligences which are not listed by Gardner. Gardner, for example, does not speak about a villainous intelligence. Nor does he speak about political intelligence. Not even an intruding intelligence.
Gardner’s other seven intelligences are: Visuospatial intelligence [artists, designers, architects, etc], musical intelligence, bodily-kinesthetic intelligence [dancers, sportsmen, actors, builders, soldiers, etc], interpersonal intelligence [salesmen, politicians, managers, social workers, etc], intrapersonal intelligence [philosophers, psychologists, theologians, writers, etc], naturalistic intelligence [naturalists, farmers, gardeners, etc], and existentialist intelligence [cosmologists, philosophers, etc].
Many students don’t [don’t want to] excel in any of these nine intelligences listed by Gardner. Where will Gardner put the intelligence of my former student who thinks that he has a duty to fill the voids in his teachers’ life? Of course, he had been told years ago by his confidante-administrator in his school about which teacher had what void in his/her life.
Gardner’s definition of intelligence is: “Intelligence is a bio-psychological potential to process information that can be activated in a cultural setting to solve problems or create products that are of value in a culture.”
Do note the elements contained in the definition:
- Intelligence has its roots in the genes one inherits and in one’s mind [“bio-psychological”]
- Intelligence has a lot to do with culture.
a) It solves problems in a way that is acceptable in one’s cultural context.
b) It is creative, productive.
Of course, if all the culture you find around you is one that is vitiated by people like Qaddafi or Hosni Mubarak or Ben Ali or their likes, there is very little you can do with all the intelligence you inherited genetically or you possess in your neurones. That is your helplessness. That is where some individuals will win. For some time.