Friday, October 2, 2009

Gardner's Eight Intelligences: Spatial

This is an eight-part series covering Gardner's eight multiple intelligences and applying the theory with my children in every day life.

This is my sixth of eight posts in the Eight Intelligences Series.

Spatial intelligence is "picture smart." They are also called visual learners. Basically, if a spatial learner is assembling a bookshelf, she would look at the pictures to figure out the steps. (An interpersonal learner would ask someone for help, an intrapersonal learner would think about and figure it out herself, a linguistic learner would read the directions). Spatial learners use pictures, television, movies, and posters to learn. Unfortunately, spatial learners are normally associated with special education. As students continue in school, they draw less and are taught less by a variety of means. This is controversial, as many educators believe that the farther students continue in school, the more they should be trained and accustomed to life for college or a career. (Can you work with taxes' paperwork or research with predominately pictures?) As few professors or employees teach through drawings or pictures, the written and spoken word becomes dominant in the classroom. I have torn feelings about this, which runs into many other areas of education. Read: another blog, another time.

Ty and Za love pictures. I hang pictures in their playroom and painted shapes on the walls during a rainy day. They always talk about the shapes on the wall and like them. (Za doesn't talk about them, but she does slap at them). 

When we read books, Za focuses on the pictures. Ty, now 2.8, looks at the pictures and guesses at the words. The pictures are supplemental to his linguistic skills. I encourage him to draw, but he doesn't really care to do so. He enjoys combing through magazines, looking at pictures. We cut out pictures he likes and put them on his playroom wall with a label.

*I wonder*: Should spatial intelligence be supplemental to another intelligence? Is it meant to be the sole intelligence? Are spatial learners at a disadvantage the majority of the time? Do most of us start out as spatial learners and then adapt to other, more common intelligences?

Drawing, of course, is in many professions: architecture, graphic design, and on and on. The problem that educators see is so many other studies must go into these professions. It is problematic if students learn this way only (or heavily this way), instead of this way in addition to another?