Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Lesson 1: Redefining Intelligence

These scientific discoveries were aided significantly by “magnetic resonance imaging” (MRI), which allowed us to see what is going on inside our heads as we functioned. There has also been a powerful body of work emerging since the mid-1990s around the “Science of Success” where painstaking research has discovered how successful people get that way. These findings have created a new field of popular books explaining these various intelligences as well as research on excellent performance. Some of these books include: Multiple Intelligences (Gardner 2006), Outliers (Gladwell 2008), A Whole New Mind (Pink 2009), and The Talent Code (Coyle 2009).

Defining Our Smarts
Expanding upon his own pioneering research since the early 1980s, Howard Gardner, a Harvard professor of psychology and research successor to Abraham Maslow’s work on our human “Hierarchy of Needs” defined intelligence as the ability to do three things:
  • Ability to solve problems that one encounters in real life.
  • Ability to generate new problems to solve.
  • Ability to make something or offer a service that is valued within one’s culture.
Gardner came up with eight areas of intelligence. Presently, he is evaluating two others. In order to categorize intelligence, Gardner established criteria that “each intelligence must have a developmental feature, be observable in special populations such as prodigies (an extraordinary, talented young people) or savants (people with detailed knowledge in a specialized field), provide some evidence of localization in the brain, and support a symbolic or notational system.”

Our Areas of Intelligence
The eight areas of intelligence as defined by Gardner are:
  • Linguistic–Verbal: Ability to think in words and to use language to express complex meanings i.e. William Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, Jorge Luis Borges
  • Logical-Mathematical: Ability to calculate, quantify, consider propositions, hypotheses, and perform complex mathematical operations i.e. Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Marie Curie
  • Spatial-Mechanical: Ability to think in three-dimensional ways, perceive external and internal imagery, re-create, transform or modify images, navigate oneself and objects through space and produce or decode graphic information i.e. Frank Lloyd Wright, Michelangelo, Buckminster Fuller
  • Kinesthetic-Bodily: Ability to manipulate objects and fine-tune physical skills i.e. Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Jesse Owens
  • Musical: Ability to distinguish and create pitch, melody, rhythm and tone i.e. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ella Fitzgerald, George Gershwin
  • Interpersonal: Ability to understand and interact effectively with others i.e. Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi
  • Intrapersonal: Ability to construct an accurate self-perception and to use this knowledge in planning and directing one’s life i.e. Viktor Frankl, Sigmund Freud, Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Naturalist: Ability to observe patterns in nature, identify and classify objects, and understand natural and human-made systems i.e. John Muir, Rachel Carson, David Brower
Taking Advantage of Our Smarts
So what does this have to do with entrepreneurship? Just about everything. Reading Gardner’s three-point definition of intelligence, those are exactly what we as entrepreneurs must do in order to succeed. You might say then that based on this definition, entrepreneurs must learn to be successful at life through the understanding of their intellectual strengths.

It is important that you begin to learn based on what is the most interesting and natural method of understanding. The exercise here is for you to determine which of these intelligences best characterize who you are. What has been the easiest way for you to learn? What has kept your interest?

In their book entitled Teaching and Learning through Multiple Intelligences (Campbell, Dickinson 2003), the authors provide an example of a young girl who was several grades behind in school. The more she struggled, the more she hated school and her self esteem continued to spiral downward.

When she entered the sixth grade, the teacher observed how graceful her new student moved. The teacher—although unaware of the eight intelligences—could see that the girl had a gift of kinesthetic intelligence. Following her hunch, the teacher suggested to the girl that she “create a movement of alphabet using her body to form each of the 26 letters.” The next day, the girl came running into the classroom before the start of class and showed the teacher her presentation of the 26 letters using her body in a dance. She then spelled out her first and last names in the same manner.

Confidence Through Recognition of Your Intelligence
By recognizing her strengths, the teacher was able to help the girl to build her self-confidence. Shortly thereafter, the girl created a pattern where she would dance the words and then write them. Her confidence grew so well that in a few months, she no longer had to dance before writing. Thus, by discovering her kinesthetic intelligence, the girl was able to use her strengths to open up a world of reading and writing, which will benefit her for the rest of her life no matter what she does.

Most people will show a high level of intelligence in more than one area. It is important to remember that the more successes you have using a particular type of intelligence, the confidence you build will open up your mind to the other intelligences. It is not unusual for individuals to excel in what would normally be considered polar opposites such as art and science. Leonardo DaVinci is the greatest example of a genius who performed magnificently in seven intelligences.

Here are two other considerations that will be key to your success in learning:
  • Learning Styles: visual, verbal, participatory. There is one dominant method by which you learn and a secondary method. If you are able to capture two methods of learning, your ability to retain that knowledge will be stronger and longer lasting. Recent research suggests that our most dominant window to the world is through our eyes—70 percent of what we learn is visual.
  • Learning Pace: fast, medium, slow or some variation depending on the subject. As our minds are wired differently, it is critical to recognize how you absorb information and the style that works best. For medium to slow learners, it is imperative to understand that your brain will capture the information at a variable pace. So don’t get discouraged. Instead embrace your learning style.
Secondly, we must learn to respect each other’s abilities and realize that we all learn in different ways. You might think someone is making quick judgments or that another is merely “staring into space.” However, it may be the way they absorb information. Understanding this characteristic is the first step in working together. We can help each other and maximize the outcomes in this program by understanding learning styles. So, build a nurturing community where each of us is encouraged to seek out, discover, and apply our greatest strengths in learning! The associations you make in this class will provide an on-going support system for your business and your future. You might even make a few new friends!

No comments:

Post a Comment