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Don’t worry, you *are* clever.


From ages four to at least eighteen, each child living in the UK must endure full-time education in which we spend years being continuously assessed, preparing for assessments or being told we’re not good enough and need to retake everything. Over time, places intended for learning and broadening horizons have, for many, become institutions of constant testing and repeated failure. You see, not everyone is good at exams. Not all of us were designed to memorise pages of information, ready to regurgitate it at any given moment. Not everyone has the attention span for one, two, three plus hour exams. And yet this is the standard to which all our intelligence is measured.


Well, here’s a PSA: you are clever, even if it’s not in the way that you think.


In the eighties, a man called Howard Gardener began a theory of intelligence that has been developing ever since, with nine types of intelligence having been agreed on so far. Now, it should be noted that some argue these ‘intelligences’ could be seen simply as skills or talents, and in fact calling them 'intelligences' can distract from the individual’s ability to hone abilities and learn new things. But all the same, I think it’s vital that we recognise these nine types so we can begin to understand that cleverness isn’t a strict binary of smart vs dumb, it’s a web of talent that everyone is part of—


One: Visual-Spatial

This intelligence type is to do with the individual’s ability to comprehend the space around them. Visual-Spatial intelligence is usually hallmarked by a good sense of direction, excellent map-reading skills and a general understanding of any given space.

People with these skills tend to also succeed in identifying patterns and interpreting data.


Two: Linguistic-Verbal

Here we’re looking at people who are wizards with words: the readers, the speakers, the writers. If you’re a good storyteller, even if it’s recounting what happened at the pub last night, can memorise things quickly or just love to play around with the sounds of words as you’re saying them, you may have heightened linguistic-verbal intelligence.

These types are probably great communicators first and foremost.


Three: Logical-Mathematical

We’re talking numbers, logic, problem-solving: how quickly can you split the bill, how far can you take mental maths before you need a calculator, did you actually like maths at school? If yes, congratulations you’re high in logical-mathematical intelligence, like Spock.

This intelligence tends to allow individuals to thrive in STEM subjects at school.


Four: Bodily-Kinaesthetic Intelligence

Whilst visual-spatial was an awareness of the space around them, individuals with bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence have a knack for understanding how their bodies move through space. This means increased hand-eye coordination, rhythm and dance skills as well as excellent balance and athleticism.

People with these skills tend to excel in PE and extracurricular sports.


Five: Musical

Understanding the way music works is another type of intelligence. Key attributes of this type are quickly picking up beat, recognising both tones and patterns within tunes and generally being drawn to both listening and creating music.

How quickly do you find yourself tapping your foot to the radio?


Six: Interpersonal

Here, we’re making our way into the more overlooked intelligence types. Interpersonal intelligence is all about social skills, sensitivity and understanding other people's emotions, intentions and motivations. These people excel at group work, peace-making and empathy.

Like others, this intelligence relies on certain intuitions, focussing on body language and perceiving others’ perspectives.


Seven: Intrapersonal

Whilst the previous type was all about other people, this type highlights the skill of self-awareness. Intrapersonal intelligence allows an individual understanding of their own emotions and responses as they’re happening, often being described as reflective.

Do you spend time daydreaming? How often do you reflect on your own current situation?


Eight: Naturalistic

This one recognises that the deep understanding of seasonal, environmental and more subtle natural changes is in itself a unique type of intelligence.

People with naturalistic intelligence often like gardening and spending time outdoors where they’re comfortable.


Nine: Pedagogical

This intelligence is less about how information is received, and more to do with how an individual can convey that information. It’s one skill to understand any given topic, but it’s another thing entirely to be able to ensure everyone else can understand it too.


So, after that quick run through various different types of intelligence that they don’t teach you about in school, this is just a quick reminder that you are clever, even if you haven’t been told that recently.

Alice Chamings

Nottingham '21

Final year English with Creative Writing Student. Big fan of a cuppa and a cheeky cake ?
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