Today’s post was inspired by a recent article in School Library Journal about a school library in St. Louis that was designed with Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences Theory in mind. As I read the article, it occurred to me that multiple intelligences and multiple literacies are intricately connected. Gardner defined intelligence as “the ability to solve problems, or to fashion products, that are valued in one or more cultural or community settings.” As I see it, literacy then is the practice or expression of intelligence within social, cultural, historical and institutional contexts.
Multiple literacies require multiple intelligences. Here’s my take on it:
Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences
Source: Laughlin, 1999
||Basic literacy (e.g. reading, writing)
Problem solving literacy
|Intrapersonal intelligence (interdependent with interpersonal intelligence)
There is undoubtedly an intelligence-literacy connection, and there are probably many more literacies that could be added to the chart. It’s also likely that some use the term literacy and intelligence interchangeably. The primary difference I see is that the capacity for those intelligences exists innately in all of us, and literacy is the way we learn to express those intelligences within a socio-cultural context.
One thing I haven’t touched on in this post: the tools used to achieve those intelligences and literacies. That’s an important aspect of the intelligence-literacy connection. The evolution of technology has changed the way we practice literacy, and some have even claimed that it has changed the way we learn. I’m not convinced yet of the latter, though motivation and memory are important elements of the learning process and technology certainly has changed what motivates us (and possibly how we decide what to memorize and what to store in external memory).
Hopefully, the New City School in St. Louis has considered the importance of technology integration into its Multiple Intelligences Library.