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Does a High IQ Guarantee Success? Why Nurturing Multiple Intelligences Matters

Growing up, the focus was 100% on IQ, and success in school. The assumption was, if you IQ was high, you would be successful. Yet so many people I know, myself included, had high IQs, but weren’t able to translate that into success coming out of university. At the time we could have been spared a lot of pain and confusion if we’d only realized that IQ can only take someone so far. We needed to nurture the other types of intelligences, especially the interpersonal ones.

Yesterday I interviewed Dr. Thomas Hoerr (pronounced Her), the head of the New City School, a pioneer in teaching to the whole array of intelligences. Their multiple intelligences (MI) approach has produced excellent results and is used as a model by many schools.

Hoerr talked about the 8 commonly recognized intelligences. These include:

  • the scholastic intelligences: linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence
  • the interpersonal intelligences: intrapersonal and interpersonal intelligence
  • the rest: bodily-kinesthetic, musical, spatial, and naturalistic intelligence.

Dr. Hoerr shared ways to nurture other intelligences, and how to avoid having our children be casualties of the school system. Interestingly enough, although I did very well in school, in hindsight I too was a casualty of a system that created the false expectation that my high IQ would be enough to guarantee my success. When that didn’t happen, I thought there was something wrong with me because I wasn’t capitalizing on my high IQ. Instead, under an MI approach, I would have seen that I needed to develop some other intelligences, including the interpersonal intelligences, in order to be successful.

If you want the best for your child in life, which you do, then you owe it to yourself to take a few minutes to listen to this powerful interview. Just knowing that people are intelligent in different ways can be profoundly inspiring for your child. If your child is not particularly gifted in the traditional scholastic intelligences, this will allow him or her to maintain a healthy self-esteem, and also to find ways to learn that work with his or her gifts.

It is profoundly self-affirming to recognize our strengths and capitalize on them, not to repeatedly try to learn using methods that don’t work for our brain. We live in a wonderful time in so many ways. Learning how to work with the whole brain and all the types of intelligences is such a major change from how most of us were taught in school. We owe it to our children to give them the benefit of the incredible work that is being done in MI education, and Tom has an incredible depth and breadth of experience that he shared with us this week.

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