There is a long-standing, strong, egoistic idea around IQ. Tests are given. People are rated. The higher the score the smarter the person and the more superior. Supposedly. I’m a teacher as well as a writer, so let me add this, “Yeah, right…” I have never had my IQ tested. I don’t care. These tests only ever measure a very narrow type of intelligence.
When I was completing my Bachelor of Education in Art Education I learned about a man named Howard Gardner. He studied intelligence and believed that there were seven distinct types.
- Visual-spatial (picture smart)
- Bodily-Kinesthetic (body smart)
- Musical (music smart)
- Interpersonal (people smart)
- Linguistic (word smart)
- Intrapersonal (self-actualized)
- Logical-mathematical (number/reasoning smart)
A person can be strong in one or all areas, but the idea is that we all have strengths and weaknesses.
Visual-spatial people are very aware of their environments and like to draw, read maps, and charts, play with models and look at photographs. They understand two-dimensional and three-dimensional design. They’re good at daydreaming, and visualizations, and excel with visual aids.
Bodily-kinesthetic people learn through physical activity, touching things, hands-on experiences, role-playing, and using real equipment and objects.
Musical people show sensitivity to sound. They love music and may study better with particular music or absolute silence. They seek the rhythm in things and their tools are musical instruments.
Interpersonal people understand others and learn through interacting with them. They have many friends and have busy social calendars. They learn through group activities, dialogues, talking, and writing.
Intrapersonal people are independent and work well alone. They have wisdom, intuition, and innate motivation. They are confident and have strong opinions. They learn from introspection, journaling, and reading, and are the most independent of the learners.
Linguistic people use words effectively. They can learn through listening, word games, and storytelling. They use audiobooks and language and learn well at lectures.
Logic-math people are excellent at reasoning, calculating, and thinking abstractly. They look for patterns and relationships in things. They like problem-solving and need to learn and form concepts before looking at details.
I agree with Howard Gardner and see how I fall under one or two of these categories more than others and I think I knew it before I officially knew it by taking classes in high school that were strongly visual and didn’t require abstract thinking. I used to say “if I can’t have a picture for it I can’t learn it.” I am also a slow reader. A friend asked me why. I told him I picture everything, even things that aren’t in the description. I can even see the wallpaper on the wall, the light in the room, details of things that are included. Details that are excluded my brain adds. My friend was shocked. “Isn’t that a waste of time? That’s what’s slowing you down. Just read the words.”
But my brain cannot just read words. It makes pictures. This is why my first degree is in visual art. This is why I can remember details that others forget and this is why when I write, I include visual details—lots and lots of visual details-colors of shirts, cups characters drink from, fields they walk through. Some of those details may be irrelevant to readers but they feel useful to me.
How does this relate to writing?
The photo at the top of this post is a series of images in which Dave visually illustrated a scene we were working on that wasn’t clear in my head. To help me, he got the dinosaur figurines and set them up on the coffee table in his office. He gets that some of my stronger intelligence is visual-spatial and he works with it well. We balance each other in that he tends to handle numbers and his logical brain is excellent at organizing.
Part of the writing partnership is to find what details are necessary and what details are not. Sometimes I add too much and other times Dave asks questions that need a quick answer and I can just send a detail his way. So far, it works. I really don’t know how to make my head work any other way and I’m okay with it. The idea that IQ is just one thing a person has that can be measured is, well, dumb. The idea that we are multifaceted and have brains that learn and are stimulated in many different ways is sensible. My visual intelligence is an asset to the way I write. I think Dave has learned to work well with mine—with and without the dinosaurs and I have gratitude for the parts of his brain that are different than mine.
Are you all thinking about what intelligence you operate with? Ι hope so.
As always, thank you for reading lovelies.