By Eberechukwu Orji
Uche, a fifteen year old teenager who shows marked ability in art but fails to perform in the same degree in other academic work has become a source of great worry and fear to his mother, Mrs. Enyinna who wants him to become a doctor or take on any other respectable profession like law, engineering, architecture, etc. Perturbed that his ardent passion for art is the reason behind his average performance in school, she attempts to dissuade him from focusing all attention on art subjects and diverting his zeal to other subjects in school which proved abortive. Mrs. Enyinna resolved to seek the expertise of a counselor and the undermentioned chat progressed:
Mrs. Enyinna: Good day Counselor.
Counselor: Good day, you are welcome. How may I help you?
Mrs. Enyinna: Counselor my son performs extremely well in art subjects but performs averagely in non-art subjects. I fear that he is not as intelligent as some of his peers. He only spends time drawing and making sculptors. And he has tried applying different styles of learning but they prove abortive.
Counselor: But this proves that he is in fact intelligent.
Mrs. Enyinna No, he is unintelligent. If he is he would perform high in other complex subjects. He performs well in art subjects only because they are very simple and do not require a lot of thinking.
Counselor: No subject is quite simple. The simplicity of any subject depends on the kind of intelligence the learner has. Alright, what is his performance like in art subjects and non-art subjects?
Mrs. Enyinna: He usually scores between a 100 and 90 in art subjects, but scores between 70 and 50 in non-art subjects.
Counselor: May I see some of his art work please.
Mrs. Enyinna: Yes of course, you may.
Counselor: Wow, they are amazing. I love the message he is passing across through his art work. Madam, your son displays partial logical-mathematical intelligence but has high spatial-visual intelligence that is why he is good in arts, and may also display high intelligence in other areas. There are multiple kinds of intelligence. An individual may display high intelligence in one area of intelligence but displays partial or no intelligence in other areas. Those individuals who perform high in non-art subjects do so because they have high ability to comprehend the complex nature of the subjects, but may perform poorly or averagely in some other subject or skill, vice-versa for individuals with high artistic sense.
A Professor of Education at Harvard University, Howard Gardner developed nine intelligences and the possibility of others may eventually expand the list. These intelligences or competencies refer to a person’s unique aptitude set of capabilities and ways they might prefer to demonstrate intellectual abilities. Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences include: Verbal-linguistic Intelligence characterizes individuals with well-developed verbal skills and sensitivity to sounds, meanings and rhythms of words. These individuals can easily interpret and explain ideas and information via language and understand the relationship between the meaning of words and how they are conveyed. They play the role of writers, translators, presenters, editors, historians, lawyers, poets, media consultants, journalists, teachers, etc. Logical-mathematical Intelligence depicts individuals who have the ability to think conceptually and abstractly, they can analyze and detect problems, and have scientific reasoning and deduction to discern logical and numerical patterns and perform mathematical calculations. They understand the relationship between cause and effect toward a tangible result, and they play the role of bankers, engineers, analysts, computer programmers, accountants, scientists, researchers, arbitrators, statisticians, insurance workers, traders, etc. Spatial-visual Intelligence describes individuals with the capacity to interpret, visualize and create visual images, pictorial imagination and expression accurately and abstractly. They understand the relationship between images, space and effect and play the roles of photographers, artists, graphic designers, event/city planners, architects, inventors, cartographers, sculptors, engineers, etc. Bodily-kinesthetic Intelligence characterizes individuals with the ability to control and coordinate their body movements and to handle objects skillfully (manual dexterity). These individuals have physical agility and balance and play the roles of anthropologists, nurses, physical therapists, dancers, sign-language interpreters, athletes, instrumentalists, physical education teachers and actors, etc. Musical Intelligence portrays individuals who have the ability to, recognize, produce and appreciate rhythm, sound and pitch, and understand the relationship between sound and feeling. They play the roles of singers, voice coaches, DJs, entertainers, composers, acoustic engineers, environment and noise analyst, etc. Interpersonal Intelligence describes individuals with the ability to relate, detect and respond appropriately to the moods, motivations and desires of others. They can interpret behavior and communications, and understand the relationship between people and their situations. They play the roles of psychologists, politicians, mediators, therapists/counselors, advertising professionals, care givers, health providers, HR professionals, mentors, educators, etc. Intrapersonal Intelligence depicts individuals that have the capacity to be self-aware and in tune with their inner feelings, value, beliefs, thinking processes, reaction to change and relationship with others. They have emotional intelligence and take personal cognizance and objectivity, and can understand other people’s purpose and aims. They play the roles of counselors, mentors and Scale developers, etc. Naturalist Intelligence depicts individuals with the ability to recognize and categorize plants, animals and other objects in nature. They play the role of biologists, scientists, researchers, geologists, decorators, etc. Existential Intelligence portrays individuals with the sensitivity and capacity to tackle deep questions about human existence such as: what is the meaning of life? Why do people die? etc. They play the role of counselors, authors, scientists, analysts, critics, historians, writers, speakers, etc.
You can hardly come across an individual who displays very poor competence in all types of intelligence, except individuals with mental retardation. Hence you cannot conclude that anyone is unintelligent. People have different capabilities and competences, and so display expertise in those areas. Mrs. Enyinna your son is not unintelligent, he is in fact very intelligent. You only have to support him and help him maximize his potentials so that he may prosper in those areas he shows great abilities and strength in.
Mrs. Enyinna: Thanks so much, Counselor. I understand better. I’ll definitely help him maximize his potentials.
Dear Parents, it is expedient to support your children in maximizing their God-given potential. Do not be the stumbling block to their greatness.