A True Well-Rounded Education

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Don’t trust the gradebooks.

If a child gets poor grades at school, should they be considered unintelligent? Is reading, studying, and going to school the only way to make you smarter? Do the ACT, SAT, and IQ tests accurately measure intelligence?

No, because most schools don’t teach to or measure all areas of intelligence.

In North America, we mostly look at achievement in test scores or grades in school as indicators of intelligence. This can lead to a person believing their whole life that they’re not smart because they didn’t do well in school. Albert Einstein believed that “everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

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The theory of multiple intelligences by psychiatrist Howard Gardner states that each person has different ways of learning, different intelligences, and different abilities of these intelligences. This is collectively referred to as a person’s intellectual profile.

According to Gardner, in order to be considered one of his multiple intelligences, it must fulfill eight criteria: potential for brain isolation by brain damage, place in evolutionary history, presence of core operations, susceptibility to encoding, distinct developmental progression, existence of prodigies and other exceptional people, support from experimental psychology, and support from psychometric findings.

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After extensive testing and research Gardner came up with these eight* intelligences:

  • Musical – (music smart) strong sense of rhythm, sensing patterns in sound, not necessarily good at singing.

  • Bodily-Kinesthetic – (body smart) enjoys movement of body to solve a problem, create something, or perform. Athletic.

  • Logical-Mathematical – (logic smart) strength in reasoning and logical thinking, recognizing patterns.

  • Verbal-Linguistic – (word smart) uses language to express and understand ideas well.

  • Visual-Spatial – (picture smart) ability to represent the spatial world in one’s mind, typically associated with artistic or creativity.

  • Interpersonal – (people smart) ability to read intentions and desires of others; emotional intelligence.

  • Intrapersonal – (self smart) strong ability to access one’s own feelings, emotions, label them and draw upon them to understand and guide one’s own behavior.

  • Naturalist – (nature smart) sensitivity to features of the natural world, strong appreciation for environment

  • Existential* – (spirit smart) deep desire to ponder questions about life, death, and ultimate realities

*Possible 9th, not fully supported yet

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Gardner believes that there are more than only 8 intelligences, but these are the ones he has found thus far that have fit his criteria. He believes more will unfold as technology and scientific research progress.

Based on these intelligences, which ones do you think most standardized testing at schools, ACTs, SATs, etc… reach? It’s mostly logical-mathematical and verbal-linguistic. Perhaps school is insufficient in creating a well-rounded person. Luckily, Camp Voyageur stimulates the intelligences Gardner describes. Take a look at this chart below to see how camp develops all known types of intelligences.

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There are many benefits of wilderness adventure camps. Not only does camp stimulate all 8 (possibly 9) intelligences, but by its exploratory nature, camp may reveal to kids an area of intelligence they never knew they had. This translates into campers finding new and healthy hobbies (outside of video games!) that they can draw upon for the rest of their lives.

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