Multiple Intelligences, Multiple Literacies

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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

Related Literacies

Linguistic intelligence

  • Learning through listening, reading, writing, discussing
Basic literacy (e.g. reading, writing)

Critical literacy

Argument literacy

Information literacy

Digital literacy

Multimodal literacy

Logical-mathematical intelligence

  • Logical thinking, problem solving, deductive and inductive reasoning
Numeracy

Logical literacy

Problem solving literacy

Critical literacy

Information literacy

Digital literacy

Game literacy

Spatial intelligence

  • Learning by seeing, observing, visualizing
  • Thinking in pictures
  • Decoding visual media
Visual literacy

Media literacy

Spatial literacy

Game literacy

Musical intelligence

  • Organizing sound into patterns
  • Responding to music by performing, creating or dancing
  • Developing the ability to sing or play an instrument
Music literacy

Rhythmic literacy

Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence

  • Learning by doing
Active literacy

Play literacy

Interpersonal intelligence

  • Forming and maintaining social relationships
  • Communicating effectively both verbally and non-verbally
  • Discerning the moods and motivations of others
Social-emotional literacy

Cultural literacy

Intrapersonal intelligence (interdependent with interpersonal intelligence)

  • Self-awareness of emotion
  • Self-actualization
Social-emotional literacy

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.

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8 thoughts on “Multiple Intelligences, Multiple Literacies

  1. […] … 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: …http://www.scoop.it/t/intelligences-multiples  […]

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