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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What if Your Child Just Isn't Smart?

Some teachers in my grammar school placed students in rows according to their grades. We quickly learned that the kid who sat in the last seat of the last row was the "stupidest" kid in the class. To me it seemed as if the teacher had placed a dunce cap on the poor kid – it certainly couldn't have been more humiliating. 

Today I would consider that type of placement to be child abuse. I hope nobody today is structuring the placement of their students in such a degrading way. If you are, I hope you find this article.

In 2013, we still tend to relate perceptions of intelligence to models defined by our current school system. Good grades = smart kids. However, those models are simplistic. Reading, writing, and arithmetic were the three primary concerns when I was a child. But new findings indicate that intelligence is more than just linguistics and math.

As I relate in my article, In Response to President Barack Obama's Request for Educational Innovation: School Restructuring Could Improve Student Learning in Our Race to the Top, we are all gifted with different types of intelligences. If you read the article, you will see them explained under the heading (I've included a small portion of the article here):

A Progressive Educational Model Requires Innovative Teaching and Recognition of Multiple Intelligences
Different types of intelligences, according to Howard (derived from Howard Gardner's list of intelligences) are listed below, along with a brief explanation about each type:
Linguistic Intelligence
High linguistic intelligence allows individuals to express themselves well. They also have an ability to learn languages and are sensitive to spoken and written words. Writers and poets belong in this category.
Logical-mathematical Intelligence
The ability to analyze problems logically, recognize patterns, perform mathematical operations, and investigate scientifically (reason deductively), defines how people with logical-mathematical intelligence think. Scientists and inventors would fall into this category.
Musical Intelligence
People who perform, compose, and appreciate musical patterns and who have the capacity to recognize the differences in musical pitches, tones, and rhythms, comprise this category. Howard Gardner believes that some of these intelligences are connected, like this category and linguistic intelligence.
Because Gardner sees mental activity and physical activity as related, he believes that the ability to perform and coordinate body movements is a type of intelligence that requires people to use their bodies, or parts of their bodies, to solve physical movement problems. People agile in sporting activities, such as dancers and athletes fall into this category.
Spatial Intelligence
People who are adept at estimating distance and recognizing patterns in the area of space fall into this category. People with spatial intelligence think in three dimensions and have vivid imaginations. They are spatially oriented and able to manipulate images and puzzles. Sculptors, architects, and those in imagery careers exhibit spatial intelligence.
Interpersonal Intelligence
People who work well with others and who understand what motivates others, such as educators, salespeople, counselors and religious and political leaders exhibit interpersonal intelligence. They are good at communicating and may also be good at entertaining. Educators, social workers, and actors exemplify people with interpersonal intelligence.
Intra-personal Intelligence
The ability to understand oneself and what motivates oneself are examples of what constitutes intra-personal intelligence. People who are intra-personally intelligent understand their own feelings and fears. They could be philosophers or spiritual leaders. They would also work well in the field of psychology.
Existential Intelligence
Existential Intelligence is a type of intelligence that allows people to ponder, discuss, and tackle the deeper meanings of life and death. Philosophers are endowed with existential intelligence.
Naturalist Intelligence
People born with Naturalist Intelligence are concerned about nature and all things related to the natural world. Botanists, farmers, and geologists are examples of people born with Naturalist Intelligence.
Please click the link provided above if you would like to read the entire article.

Some parents don't pay attention to the talents that enable their children to succeed in life because they define children according to their latest academic test. Your child may not be school smart, but he or she may excel in one or more of the categories listed above. Before you hang your head in shame or point fingers at the kid who can't seem to "get" school, explore your child's interests. They just might fall into one of the categories listed above, and they just might provide a roadmap to your child's success. 

Don't give up on children who seem to fail academically. Prepare them for educational experiences that go beyond school by engaging them in activities that will give them a sense of accomplishment and pride. The side effect might be that your children improve in school.

Nobody is stupid! Please be the parent who helps your child recognize his or her talents. Give your child every opportunity to explore how to use that talent to contribute something beneficial to our world. Take pride in the uniqueness of your child and recognize your own worth as the parent who guided this amazing child on the road to his or her success.

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