What It Takes to be Smart

nerd-23752_960_720By Sabrina Bartels

Question: Who is the smartest person out of the list below?

  • The President of the United States, Barack Obama
  •  Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers
  • Astronaut Sally Ride (the first female astronaut)
  • Minecraft creator Markus Persson
  • World champion chess player Bobby Fischer

Thoughts?  I’ll be honest, I was torn between a couple of people. I always think people who play chess, like Bobby Fischer, must be intelligent. They plan out their moves carefully and well in advance. Then again, Markus Persson created an entirely new world on the computer. The President must be smart, because he has to make decisions that affect the entire nation. Astronauts have to be smart; think of all the calculations and data they must acquire! And think of all the routes, plays, and passes Aaron Rodgers has to memorize!

So who is the smartest?

I teach a lesson about multiple intelligences to my students every year in Career Pathways class, and it’s one of my favorites. I’ve learned that through the years, my students acquire a definition in their minds as to what it means to be smart. They then compare themselves to that definition. Some of my students are proud that when they compare themselves to their definition, they are smart. And some think about their definition, compare themselves to it, and conclude that because they are unable to do x, y, or z, they are “dumb.”

This is where the theory of multiple intelligences come in. It shows that there are several different ways that people can be smart. In Career Pathways class, we name eight specific intelligences:

–          Body smart (kinesthetic) – people who express themselves through movement; often have a good sense of balance and hand-eye coordination

–          Music Smart – may produce and appreciate music; often think in sounds, rhythms, and patterns

–          Nature Smart (naturalistic) – appreciate and are knowledge able about the natural environment; often have interests in animals, plants, and being outdoors

–          Number/logic Smart – people who use reason, logic, and numbers; often think logically and make connections between pieces of information

–          People Smart (interpersonal) – people who are able to relate to and understand others; often try to maintain peace and encourage cooperation

–          Picture Smart (visual spatial) – people who tend to think in pictures and enjoy creating visual images; often read maps, charts, and diagrams

–          Self Smart (intrapersonal) – people who try to understand their inner feelings, goals, strengths, weaknesses, and relationships with others

–          Word Smart (linguistic) – people who have highly developed listening skills and are generally good speakers; often enjoy reading and writing

We then have students take a mini quiz to find out which “smart” they are strongest in and discuss what that means. We talk about how we can use our smarts to our advantage and how that can help guide us down a career path that we are interested in.

It’s most refreshing to see my students who initially believed that they were “dumb” realize that they have definite strengths in certain areas. One student of mine, who always declared that she was “dumb” because she couldn’t do math well, felt better after realizing that her strength in art was considered a smart. My students who struggle with reading or writing suddenly have a new appreciation for their athletic and musical ability. Even I felt better after realizing that my ability to listen to and empathize with others is considered a smart, even if I struggled with math.

I encourage all of my students, and all of their parents, to check out what their “smart” is! It is not only a great self-esteem booster, but it helps everyone appreciate how we are each unique, different, and smart in every way!

To check out what “smart” you have, go to this link: http://www.edutopia.org/multiple-intelligences-assessment. Once you finish answering the questions, it will bring up a chart with how you rank in the 8 different categories. Enjoy!


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