I am blessed enough to have two beautiful boys aged 12 and 17 – two boys with very distinct and diverse personalities. My eldest boy Ryan, left primary school aged eleven as a ‘Straight A’ type of guy; achieving level 5s in all subjects; academia fell into his lap as softly as a leaf in the warm September breeze.
On the other hand the little man Leo, found most of his academic studies rather arduous and soul destroying – feeling rather ‘thick’ (as he put it) because we was poor at number ‘work’ and spelling.
I was fortunate enough to have Leo at my school for the last three years of his primary education; during that time I witnessed him blossom on his learning journey; eventually leaving school with Level 4 SATs in Maths & English and a Level 5 in Science. Despite this achievement he always felt he was not as clever as the others in his class.
Where Leo did come into his own was within his imagination, his creativity. Even now at the age of twelve he can play the guitar, ukulele, Bodhran (Irish handheld circular drum). He is a competent artist (winning ‘Pupil of the Month’ for his art at school) His woodworking and practical making skills are outstanding. However, not one of his talents or skills above can be scored within the world of SATs! – So do they count?
What the world of academia has succinctly said to generations upon generations of children “If you can’t read or write too well; or you’re poor at counting then you’re stupid!” Luckily, Leo has a Thought Weaver for a dad and Leo knows that he is very intelligent! He knows his strengths and his developmental areas – he knows there is a distinct difference between being clever and being intelligent!
I was pondering on the question: What is the difference between being clever and being intelligent?
After posting the above question on Twitter; we had many replies but my favourite was from our friend Mr. Gerald Haigh: @geraldhaigh1: (Learner, teacher, writer, piano player.) Gerald says that in his opinion:
‘Clever” is a catch-all meaning ‘owt’ (anything) from very able to deeply cunning. “Intelligent” was once precise but is now discredited.’
Is intelligence discredited? Should it be? Does it still have a place within the modern ‘SATs driven’ education system? Pablo Demarchi (Argentina) @PDemarci says:
‘I think being clever is an abstract ability; being intelligent means you can apply that ability to create or find solutions.’
I know that my son Leo has the ‘abstract ability’ but where he shines is within his ability to apply his new found knowledge, skills and experience to any new situations; this I feel is very intelligent indeed. The Slideshow at the top of the page is Leo’s ‘Cigar Box Guitar’ (or in this case it’s an Old Pasta Tin Guitar).
This is what happens when you encourage youngsters to find their own intelligence. I swear to God I had NO input in the making of the instrument pictured.
So hopefully we all can see a distinct difference between ‘Cleverness’ and ‘Intelligence.’ The piece of theory I love about intelligence and its application is Howard Gardner’s findings on Multiple Intelligence (MI).
I know that for many the jury is still out when it comes to the scientific credibility of Gardener’s work. But I must confess that I am a true disciple and take on his teachings verbatim. The reason I believe in this so strongly is that I know it works and I have witnessed the benefits within my classroom
Below is a brief synopsis of each of Gardner’s intelligences. It important to know that we have them all! It’s just that some of us excel/enjoy in some aspects whilst with other aspects we don’t.
Try to think of two or three pupils/people or maybe think about yourself and pick out their/your personal traits in relation to these below.
Spatial Intelligence – The artists, designers, sculptor, architects and free thinkers: These are the ones that can see and think right out of the box. These see things from different perspectives! Perhaps when a boy in my class told me he’d like to meet an Alien, he was serious!
Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence– Writers, journalists, teachers, poets and lawyers. These are the people who have a great command of language and words; they excel at speaking and are able to command an audience. Perhaps it’s not always best to ‘be quiet!’
Logical/Mathematical Intelligence: mathematicians, accountants, engineers: The number crunchers, the deal-doers. These are the market speculators of the world! Solving problems is very well suited to this!
Body-kinaesthetic Intelligence: The athletes, fire fighters and actors of the world. These are the folk who use their body to its best ability, in the classroom the may ‘fidget’, but outside it they flourish! When was the last time you created a dance routine based on an electrical circuit? Check out our blog on Physical Movement: http://wp.me/p1upWt-1l
Musical Intelligence: The musicians, composers and DJs of the world. They have great rhythm, love the feel and sound of instruments and are passionate about listening to and making music! When was the last time you asked children to make up a song about triangles?
Interpersonal: These are the socialites of the world, those who can enter a room full of people and know something about them all in a very short space of time! They love talking! What does outstanding collaboration ‘look’ like in your classroom?
Intrapersonal: This is the philosopher’s intelligence. These folk are highly reflective and think very careful about things. This type of intelligence helps use to identify our strengths and weaknesses. Have you tried P4C?
Naturalistic: The great outdoors would certainly suit people who enjoy using this type of intelligence; the farmers, walkers and gardeners of the world! How do you link science with gardening? How often do you take the learning outside? Personification poems can be taught brilliantly by interviewing fences! Trust me it works!
Many of the children in a typical classroom will be able to demonstrate with considerable skill a range of the intelligencesGardnerwrites about. It seems strange then that despite this they may not be seen as clever.
Lee & I had a chat about the question above: ‘What is the difference between being Clever and being Intelligent?’ We came to the agreement that ‘Clever’ is a title that someone gives you (usually after you have performed well in a test.) Intelligence is something that you give yourself; an positive intrinsic energy from within that helps you to apply your knowledge and understanding in a way that clever people find difficult!
Ian Gilbert (The Independent Thinking) prompts us to consider the approach of rather than asking child: How clever are you? Why not ask them ‘How are you clever?’
The last word we leave to Mr Albert Einstein, his words sum up this blog:
“If you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will forever think it’s stupid.?”
Lee & David (The Thought Weavers)
Howard Gardner: Frames of Mind: ISBN: 0-00-686290
Ian Gilbert: Essential Motivation in the Classroom: ISBN 0-415-26619-X
David Hodgson: The Little Book of Inspirational Teaching Activities; Bringing NLP into the Classroom. http://www.independentthinking.co.uk/Shop!/Books+Main/BooksWritten/622.aspx