Multiple Intelligences and How We Can Use It to Raise Our Children Up in the Fear and Admonition of the Lord

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. ~Proverbs 22:6

Surely we all agree on the ends, but how are we to discover the means of fulfilling this biblical command?  How do we train up our children?  Is there a sure-fire, cookie-cutter method we can use?  Or are differentiated methods based on talents, abilities and tendencies necessary to achieve the optimal outcomes in our children’s lives?

We are commanded by God through the Scriptures to train our children in such a way that when they are older they will not depart from God’s path.  The purpose of this post is to show that there is needed diversity and variety in the ways of raising our children.  We can best train them, by utilizing, not ignoring their internal hard-wiring.

I am not referring to utilizing their original sin nature; for we are to train them in the way that we hope for them to operate after having been regenerated by the Savior.  Matthew Henry says as such in his commentary:

Train children, not in the way they would go, that of their corrupt hearts, but in the way they should go; in which, if you love them, you would have them go. As soon as possible every child should be led to the knowledge of the Savior.

We should seek to train up our children in all sorts of ways; especially in ways that they learn best.  Deuteronomy 6:7 speaks in a proverbial way of coming at this task from all angles:

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. ~Dueteronomy 6:7

The theory of multiple intelligences, developed in 1983 by Dr. Howard Gardner, and long-known in the educational realm, has profound relevance in the area of training our children in the way of the Lord. Multiple intelligences are not new, having existed as long as mankind; but our understanding of them has improved.

For an explanation of Multiple Intelligences, I would like to use Thomas Armstrong’s article on Multiple Intelligences.  Here are some appropriate excerpts:

“The theory of multiple intelligences was developed in 1983 by Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at
Harvard University. It suggests that the traditional notion of intelligence, based on I.Q. testing, is far too limited. Instead, Dr. Gardner proposes eight different intelligences to account for a broader range of human potential in children and adults. These intelligences are:

  • Linguistic intelligence (“word smart”)
  • Logical-mathematical intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”)
  • Spacial intelligence (“picture smart”)
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence (“body smart”)
  • Musical intelligence (“music smart”)
  • Interpersonal intelligence (“people smart”)
  • Intrapersonal intelligence (“self-smart”)
  • Naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”)

Dr. Gardner says that our schools and culture focus most of their attention on linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence.”

“For example, if you’re teaching or learning about the law of supply and demand in economics, you might read about it (linguistic), study mathematical formulas that express it (logical-mathematical), examine a graphic chart that illustrates the principle (spatial), observe the law in the natural world (naturalist) or in the human world of commerce (interpersonal); examine the law in terms of your own body [e.g. when you supply your body with lots of food, the hunger demand goes down; when there’s very little supply, your stomach’s demand for food goes way up and you get hungry] (bodily-kinesthetic and intrapersonal); and/or write a song (or find an existing song) that demonstrates the law (perhaps Dylan’s “Too Much of Nothing?”).”

Here are some charts that demonstrate multiple intelligences.  Two of the charts include a ninth category; that of Existential intelligence (“Deep-Thinking intelligence”):

Because our academic culture most prizes logical/mathematical and verbal/linguistic intelligence, many children have unnecessarily lowered self-esteem.  This is not to say that we should puff up children to believe they are something they aren’t, but we should allow our children to excel and take pride in their own type of intelligences.

With this knowledge, we have the ability to foster that which God has instilled intrinsically.  These intelligences are reflections of our humanity; having been made in the image of God.  We should allow our children to discover their gifts and then as parents we are to train them up in the way of the Lord, by fostering the redeemed qualities of their gifts.

In an unregenerate person, the gift of visual/spatial intelligence might be seen in forms such as illegal graffiti, graphic illustrations, or even refined degenerative art forms (see “ecce homo“, by Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin).  However, the redeemed qualities of this intelligence creates things that bring glory to God.  It may be a montage of pictures of God’s gift of creation, a mosaic of a biblical scenes, or for those so gifted, refined redeemed art forms (see “ecce homo“, by Antonio Ciseri).  For verbal/linguistic intelligence – not Henley’s Invictus, but Longfellow’s Christmas Bells.  For existential intelligence – not the work of Richard Dawkins, but the work of Jonathan Edwards.  On and on it goes; we are to nurture the redemptive qualities of whatever intelligences our children possess, to the glory of God.  Nurturing the redemptive qualities of their particular intelligences is training them up, in their own abilities, in God’s way.  It is taking the gifts God has given to them, and using it (that which comes most natural) to guide them down the path of godliness.

All these intelligences are gifts from God, and come from God as a imperfect reflection of his own characteristics.  By training our children in the redeemed qualities of their gifts, we teach them of the One who gave the gifts, and of His ways.  We open their minds to the One who is the interpersonal Counselor; the God-man who became bodily incarnate, to whom we sing songs, hymns and spiritual songs; whose literary masterpiece is the Holy Scriptures, and who has numbered the hairs on our head and the stars in the sky; who created all of nature as His handiwork, day to day pouring out speech, and night to night revealing knowledge; who has painted the truest sunset and whose color palate overflows the boundaries of the visible spectrum; knowing all things – who can instruct Him?  For He was there when the foundations of the Earth were laid; the First and the Last, the I AM; who through Him, and to Him, and for Him are all things.

He has given our children His image.  And it is not a single gem, but a crown of jewels.  Let us polish them all, to reflect glory onto the Giver of all good gifts.

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Published in: on December 4, 2008 at 10:08 pm  Comments (8)  

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  1. I have a 5 year old daughter named Hannah. I thank you so much because my readings about multiple intelligence greatly helped me a lot . It gave me confidence in my tutorial (home study)because Im preparing Hannah to enroll in school next year. I have actually 5 kids and a grandson. my 2 kids Chiara 12 and Sam 11 were sent 6 years ago in Iloilo Integrated School here in our place advocating/teaching/applying Multiple Intelligence Concept/sytem. The effect/outcome in their person was so amazing. I intend to enroll Hannah in the same school next year. Mabuhay!. Mucho Gracias. – – – – Shyla

  2. I’m 19 and I’ve never cared much for the “who’s smarter than whom” debate.. Someone boasting.. I mean painfully annoyingly bragging “I’m smarter than yoooou” or someone making excuses for themself while also lowering than self-esteem by saying “That’s because I’m just not smart like you” etc.. And since I’ve learned of multiple-intelligences, I now feel I understand why I really never like that so much besides the lower of self-esteem..

    And that is because there’s so many ways to be “smart” or intelligent, that you can’t really wholly say one is smarter than another.. perhaps in one division or form of intelligence, but even then that form is affected by all the others.. We’re each unique, and we must embrace that.. and give eachother only positive feedback (I mean you can tell them what they’re doing wrong, but in a good way letting them know that it’s okay.. and maybe tell them something they’re doing good also).. Let’s just help eachother 😀

  3. I agree Timothy, to brand with a general intelligence score can be deceiving. Most all intelligence tests rely solely on the logical/mathmatical and linguistic intelligence. Some people are indeed brighter than others, but people often misunderstand the topic in general and so make unnecessary and often incorrect assumptions of intelligence.

  4. Hai my name is frida i just learnt about multiple intelligence n i think it’s good enough for now…because we cannot only see from one sight of the childrens…we sould give another way for children to encourage themselves…

  5. Wow! Amazing.Ijust knew how multiple inteligences being related to the spiritual aspect of humanity. I mean it gave me a better understanding that each child is unique and should never be compared to other kids.I am hoping and looking forward I could attend seminars and trainings on MI that could enrich my knowledge and become more effective to my kids and students.May you help me?Thanks ahead.God Bless.

  6. This was so immensely interesting. It expanded my thoughts and feelings on what Proverbs meant and how in depth it apparently is. I didn’t see it from all those perspectives, but see how those perspectives could apply. Not having children I’ve not had to travel those paths. And my cats……well they on a lesser degree need stimulation in their environment to be happy, content and challenged. I wish more parents followed this path of wisdom. I have known of too many parents who choose the interests the child would have and dissuaded them from what the child seemed most excellent in. I can see how this style of learning would creat some very content, well balanced and happy kids. It I think would also require the school systems who seem to think they know what is best, to modify their mode of teaching and classes offered. But I’d like to see one in operation. I have seen a few that on a lesser scale produced some kids who were given up on by other educational programs, achieve levels of self esteem and personal growth and interest in learning. But they instituted behavior modification type of programs and they were so successful. This was so interesting. Thanks

  7. I found this posting to be wildly fascinating. It is a huge interest of mine anyway. Not having children, but studying the behaviors and developments of children in orphanages here and abroad, versus children who had parents who encouraged all kinds of freedom to learn and exercise their interests and the results was amazing. I never even considered that Proverbs 22:6 encompasses all these avenues of education. But can now see how it would. I think the educational system who claims to be focused on a making the child the best they can be, are rigid in deciding what a child must learn. Granted there are things we need to learn even when it isn’t so interesting, but I have seen children achieve levels of success in how it was taught. There are relatively few schools who have employed behavior modification type programs for schools who have the lowest intelligence scores and have the highest behavioral problems. And their success in teaching and instilling a sense of pride and self esteem for those students was heartwarming. Some of the students who everyone else had given up on, went on to college. This was a highly interesting subject. And expanded my own thoughts on Proverbs 22:6

  8. I could say I hate when you do this, I do not. It is going to take a good bit of ink to print this and I must print it to make the best use of it.
    It is very interesting, every thing you post like this is interesting, I do not however print everything.


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