The theory of multiple intelligences was proposed by Howard Gardner in 1983 as a model of intelligence that differentiates intelligence into various specific (primarily sensory) modalities, rather than seeing it as dominated by a single general ability (Wikipedia)
All of our students in high school have been evaluated for intelligence, and I hope you will accept my definition of the term: The ability to solve problems, acquire new data, transfer knowledge to new situations, make new associations between concepts, interpret abstract symbols, and offer creative ideas which may or may not be practical. I refuse to accept the multiple intelligences proposed by Gardner (who am I to question it you will ask? Just a guy with a major in psychology who has been writing on the education subject for the last 30 years). The word intelligence in my humble opinion does not have a plural because it takes just about five minutes of talking to somebody you don’t know to form a valid opinion as to his/her level of intelligence. And so it is for students in public schools. I can read their assessment and find out immediately what their I.Q. is; below 80 tells me that this teen requires a lot of help. Above 100 lets me know that he/she only needs some motivation to do well.
The terms general intelligence, general cognitive ability, general mental ability, IQ, or simply intelligence are often used interchangeably to refer to the common core shared by cognitive tests (Wikipedia)
We teachers are always reminded to provide high expectations to ALL our students; they must know that only their best is acceptable, as is the case in adult life. However, we sometimes abuse, yes, abuse our gifted pupils by asking too much of them. I constantly remember my teacher in elementary telling my mother (my father was too busy to care) that I was intelligent but my results were too low (I much preferred Football ‘the British type’ to boring classes). The converse situation is also true and common: “The kid is too slow, let’s not ask too much of him or her.” WRONG! Let’s ask and see how far and high they go; we just might be surprised, pleasantly surprised.
Challenge! Challenge! Challenge! Those are the three concepts that must prevail in any school at any level; unfortunately, many teachers are just content to re-teach the same curriculum every year without differentiating among the various skills and intelligence levels. That means that one third of the class is bored, the other third keeps up, and the last third simply pretends to understand. When the classroom teacher asks a question, the same kids always answer and the rest are ignored: WRONG! It makes me cringe as I walk around asking ‘my’ kids whether they got it and I want proof. Most of the time they simply shrug their shoulders at the high school level as if saying: “Because I am special ed, classroom teachers already assume that I can’t follow.” Many regular kids can’t follow either and when I mention this to the teacher, he or she shrugs their shoulders and continues with the sacred curriculum. Some explain they don’t have time to go into details due to testing pressure. WRONG! Emphasis must be on the students, not on state tests.
I.Q. of course doesn’t tell me everything as a teacher; an autistic boy in my care has a low I.Q. but is highly gifted in music. The measurement is only a guide, however important it may be. We must always avoid preconceptions and see how far the kid can go. The brain is still the last frontier; we know more, much more, about the Universe, but we constantly make important discoveries about the brain which change our understanding regarding its ability to adapt. Maybe one day we’ll be able to “make” every kid a genius; wouldn’t that be a shame!