Howard Gardner, a developmental psychologist, is best known for his theory of multiple intelligences. Gardner says people have multiple forms of intelligence. He identifies eight: linguistic, logic-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. Gardner is still considering a ninth, or existential intelligence (the intelligence of “big questions”), but has not, as yet, added it. You can learn more about the multiple intelligences and take a quick quiz to see which intelligences are your strongest here.
Gardner says an intelligence is the capacity to process a certain kind of information. To be considered as an intelligence Gardner looks at 3 things. He says that an intelligence entails the ability to solve problems, or fashion a product, that have meaning to a culture or community. Each intelligence must have an identifiable core operation or set of operations. And an intelligence must have a symbol system, or a way to convey meaning.
As people, we are not limited to one kind of intelligence. Everyone has the ability to process information using all of the intelligences, but most people tend to be stronger in only a few of the intelligences. Schools privilege those who have strong linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences, which makes school difficult for the many among us who exhibit somewhat different intellectual profiles.
So what does this have to do with spirituality? I believe that we can use spiritual practices and family devotions that utilize various forms of intelligence. This allows us as parents, and church families, the opportunity to develop parts of the brain that don’t get as much focus in school.
Linguistic Intelligence ~ Much of what we do when studying scripture involves the linguistic intelligence. Any time our activity focuses on story and words we are taping into linguistic intelligence.
Logical/Mathematical Intelligence~ I’m still working on how to apply this one to spirituality. If you have any ideas I’d LOVE to hear them! This intelligence does receive a heavy focus in school so I know your children are not missing out! UPDATE: A reader commented that stewardship is the perfect application for Logical/Mathematical Intelligence. Can’t believe that didn’t occur to me!
Musical Intelligence ~ If you’ve been following my Childhood Spirituality for very long you know that I like to incorporate music into my scripture lessons whenever possible. Maybe this is because the Musical Intelligence is one of my strongest.
Spatial Intelligence ~ There are many ways to incorporate art into prayer practices! I’ve only begun to touch on this subject, but I have many more ideas to come!
Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence ~ Many people don’t think of physical activity of a way to connect with God, but it definitely can be!
Interpersonal Intelligence ~ When you are able to understand and relate to other people you are using your interpersonal intelligence. Any time you participate in a family devotion you are teaching your children how to relate with other people.
Intrapersonal Intelligence ~ Intrapersonal Intelligence is an awareness of one’s own self. It involves the ability to be self reflective. Intrapersonal intellignece is the easiest intellignece to connect with spiritual practices.
Naturalistic Intelligence ~ Another easy intelligence to connect to spiritual practices is the naturalistic intelligence. Nature is simply a great place to feel connected to God!
Existential Intelligence ~ Gardner may not have determined “the big questions” as an intelligence yet, but I certainly think it is! And this intelligence is exactly what we are all trying to develop in our children!
It is highly likely that you will connect to one practice more than others, possibly due to which intelligence is your strength. And it’s likely that your children will like one type of activity more than another. But it’s good to offer opportunities to experience God in a variety of ways so that each person in our family is able to connect with God!