Instead of "Are You Smart?" Try "Which Kind of Smart Are You?"
I believe there is an overemphasis on being smart. I have no problem with intelligence. My problem is with how intelligence is typically defined.
If I were to ask you, "in which subjects do the smartest kids major?" what would you say? I suspect that you would say mathematics (statistics, calculus, accounting, and so on) and the natural sciences (physics, biochemistry, neuroscience, and so on). It doesn't matter that tests of intelligence take into consideration a range of competencies--musical awareness, bodily coordination, memory, creativity, and so on. We more or less think that the physicists are smart and the musicians and artists, though talented, aren't very smart.
Children who happen to be gifted with numbers (mathematics) or letters (reading and writing) are reminded repeatedly about how they will be going places in life. Children who happen to be gifted in the creative arts and sports are reminded about how wonderful it is to have hobbies, but that they will eventually need to be like their maths and writing peers if they wish to be taken seriously in life.
That's what I have a problem with.
Thankfully I am not alone. An educational psychologist at Harvard has been pushing back against this narrow definition of intelligence for half a century. His name is Howard Gardner.
Gardner believed that all children were intelligent, but the intelligence measures that we were using at the time only focused on about 25% of the possible types of intelligence. This meant that 75% of intelligence was being ignored. Below is an illustration of the many types of intelligence Gardner argued for.
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