We have looked at sensory-based learning and personality-based learning. Now, let’ turn our attention to aptitude-based learning. Personally, I find aptitude-based learning to be the most interesting but also the most neglected of the three. Why is this so? Well, aptitude-based learning is interesting because it includes eight types of intelligences (instead of merely one) that are observed in students and individuals, as discovered by psychologist Dr Howard Gardner. It is the most neglected because society has – on the whole- been placing lots of emphasis on Intelligence Quotient (IQ) which involves two types (logical, visual/spatial) of the eight types of intelligences.
The reason that this is so may be attributed to the fact that in a capitalist society, calculations of figures and construction of equipment / buildings are essential for its survival. If you are to look at the rest of the intelligences that are not acknowledged, it can be observed that these intelligences either contribute to the arts or is somewhat personal to the individuals. These intelligences have little contribution in a capitalist society. It is only when organisations and employers begin to look for job candidates who are strong team players (which require interpersonal intelligence, another type of intelligence) that educationists turn their attention to the possibilities of other types of intelligences.
Now, let’s have a look at the eight types of intelligences:
- Logical intelligence: This is the most common types of intelligence that society has been placing much emphasis for a long time. People who possess this type of intelligence are usually good with figures. Accountants, bankers, financial planners, business analysts and engineers are some professions requiring individuals of such intelligence. As can be observed, these professions are primarily scientific-based, and not artistically-directed activities.
- Visual / Spatial Intelligence: Individuals who are skilled with visual / spatial intelligence are people who are good at visualising graphics analysis and navigation. Finding their destination through winding side alleys and along narrow streets is a skill that they possess. Interior designers, architects and photographers are some profession that people with visual / spatial intelligence may choose.
- Interpersonal intelligence: This third form of intelligence is what society is looking for today. There’s been an awareness that productivity can be greatly boosted through a team rather than as an individual. Individuals who possess this type of intelligence are high in Emotional Quotient (EQ, a skillset acknowledged and recognised by psychologist Daniel Goleman in his book “Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ“) . This means that they are more attuned to the feeling of others and are able to get along with people in life.
- Intrapersonal intelligence: Personally, I believe that more introverts possess this ability than extroverts, since individuals who possess this form of intelligence self-reflect a lot. As a result, they usually understand themselves very well. And because of this, they are able to acknowledge their own strengths and more importantly, accept their own weaknesses. Over time, individuals with intrapersonal intelligences are usually the ones who achieve congruency in terms of their personality and character. Writers, journalists and columnists are professions that fall in this category.
- Linguistic Intelligence: As the term “linguistic” implies, individuals who have linguistic intelligence are usually strong in language. They are able to express themselves well . This implies that they probably have their strengths in three of the four components of language: reading, writing and speaking. As for the fourth component of listening, it may vary among the individuals with this form of intelligence but individuals with predominantly auditory function (please refer to my previous post “Learning Style I: Sensory-based Learning“) should be adept in listening as well.
- Kinesthetic / Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence: Individuals with kinesthetic intelligence are people who enjoy movement. Hence, they are usually sports athletes or dancers, where they use their body as a communication medium to display their intelligence. Such individuals usually prefer outdoor activities to indoor or latent activities.
- Musical intelligence: All of us appreciate music but to varying degree. Most of us listen to music as a form of relaxation. People with musical intelligence are the same, but they have a knack for noting very subtle changes in music, such as the volume or the pitch. As a result, they are often able to fine-tune a guitar or piano with a higher precision than others. Individuals who possess this intelligence may also be musicians or composers.
- Naturalistic intelligence: I have deliberately leave naturalistic intelligence as the last item to discuss because I feel that out of the eight intelligences, naturalistic intelligence is the least recognised and the least acknowledged. In a world where science seems to take precedence over the arts, individuals who possessed natural intelligence and hence are able to nurture plants and engage with botany are often ignored. The abilities of such individuals also extend to their ability to communicate with animals. It’s regrettable that zoologists and botanists are often not given the acknowledgement that they deserve.
Therefore, besides having to find out the students’ dominant sensory-based learning style (visual, auditory and kinesthetic), personality-based learning style (which is the sixteen types of personalities), educationists also have to assess the dominant types of intelligence that students possess in terms of their aptitude-based learning style. It should be noted at this point that all students (and including us as well) may have several types of intelligences but there’s usually one dominant type of intelligence.
Considering the complexity of the situation, it can be observed that there’s no fixed rule in educating students. Each educationist has to find his or her own way to deal with learning issues in class based on the class demographics, psychographics and dynamics. Although it seems like a daunting effort, I believe that as educationists, all of us are able to succeed in this endeavour.