Reflections on Intelligence

Posted on October, 2023

What does it mean to be intelligent? Is it simply a matter of having a high IQ? Or are there other factors that contribute to intelligence, such as creativity, problem-solving skills, and social skills?

In this blog post, we will explore the concept of intelligence and its implications for education. We will also discuss the theory of multiple intelligences, which suggests that there are many different ways to be intelligent.

Intelligence –  Is IQ Everything?

I was working with a student recently, who sometimes finds it difficult to approach academia.

Her eye was drawn to some metal logic puzzles which we held in the centre. These puzzles can be challenging and even students who have strong academic records can fail to solve them.

Yet, this student immediately picked each of them up and proceeded to solve each and every one of them almost effortlessly.

Metal Logical Intelligence Puzzles

This event made me question whether we really can select students accurately by ability without missing out on untapped potential through examination.

There is a split in the academic literature about whether intelligence can be “general” – usually expressed in the form of an Intelligence Quotient (IQ) – or whether it ought to be separated into different aspects.

I’m tempted to go with the latter.

Although the former theory has little merit.

The Harvard Professor, Howard Gardner, claimed that there are in fact, six types of intelligence.

This list has since expanded to include nine possible intelligences (I’ve provided an example in each case):

Colorful Types of Intellignece Mind Map Graph


Writing a compelling persuasive essay or crafting a witty social media post to influence opinions.

Logical-Mathematical Intelligence: Using statistical analysis to optimise a supply chain or developing complex algorithms for a self-driving car.


Creating an architectural design for an innovative building or using 3D modelling to design a video game world.


Navigating a challenging obstacle course with agility or choreographing a dance performance.


Composing a symphony that conveys a specific emotion or analysing the harmonic structure of a classical piece.


Mediating a conflict between friends or leading a team-building workshop for coworkers.


Practising mindfulness and self-reflection to manage stress or setting personal goals and tracking progress.


Identifying bird species based on their calls or categorising geological rock formations on a nature hike.


Engaging in philosophical discussions about the meaning of life or contemplating one’s place in the universe and the concept of existence.


The student who solved the metal puzzles with ease challenges us to reconsider whether traditional academic assessments accurately identify all students with potential. Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences suggests that there are many different ways to be intelligent, hence some students may excel in areas that are not typically measured by standardized tests.

Educators must be aware of their own biases and assumptions about intelligence and instead create learning environments that challenge and support all students, regardless of their strengths and weaknesses. We must provide opportunities for students to demonstrate their intelligence in a variety of ways despite the curriculums’ emphasis on exams and IQ.

Remember that intelligence is not fixed. It can be developed and enhanced through learning and practice. All students have the potential to succeed if we give them the right opportunities and support.

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