Thinking Outside The Stanford-Binet, Part Two

In the first part of my analysis of IQ, I looked into the history of IQ and weighed both the positives and negatives of using IQ as a quantitative measure of intelligence. Some of the pitfalls spawned different ideas that attempt to patch in some of the holes found in using IQ. One of these is the theory of multiple intelligences.

The theory of multiple intelligences is the brainchild of Howard Gardner, who expounded upon this theory in his book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. The basic idea Gardner sets forth is that there are different kinds of intelligence and he describes eight: logical-mathematical, spatial, linguistic, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. Gardner’s main issue with the intelligence quotient is that it solely focused on logical-mathematical to determine someone’s intelligence.

For example, take someone who may not do so well with the logic puzzles or mathematical questions found in an IQ test, but who has a gifted eye for art or a sensitive ear for music or even the ability to pick up on subtle interpersonal cues and respond as such. Would a lower-scoring IQ test hamper that person’s confidence in a way to prevent them from flourishing?

The theory of multiple intelligences raises some other questions and criticism, namely the conflation of intelligence with aptitude in a certain area. Does being good at art or music or interpersonal relations necessarily mean someone is intelligent in those areas? Once again we’ve stumbled onto the thorny issue of what intelligence means. And does the IQ test necessarily leave out these types of intelligence or does it test abilities that are an integral part of these other intelligences? For example, music requires math for the rhythmic aspects and the ability to read music could be tied into what is referred to as verbal intelligence. Is Gardner basically looking at different sides of the same coin?

I started researching and writing about IQ in an attempt to clarify my feelings and position after an intense discussion piqued my curiosity, however I realized I have a lot of reading and research to do.  That is to say, I’ve added several books to my summer reading list on the subject. There is definitely much to unpack when thinking about intelligence and the validity of quantifying something so difficult to pin down.

2 replies on “Thinking Outside The Stanford-Binet, Part Two”

Hm. I think we could do with a broader definition of intelligent/intelligence. On the other hand ..we could well do with caring a little less about the thing we call IQ. Of course it’s convenient to catch something so important in a number, but we’re still talking about human beings here. They can’t be completely represented by numbers.

Definitely! I do think it can be a useful tool, but it doesn’t define someone at all. I work with adults who have intellectual disabilities and it’s very easy for people to look at their numbers or diagnoses instead of as individual people with different capabilities, desires, personalities, hopes, etc.

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