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Kinesthetic Intelligence

Today I am revisiting a topic I covered a little over a year ago. Back then my focus was very much on elementary education, but today I want to start a series about the multiple intelligences from a different perspective. Today I am more focused on us lifelong learners, people like me that have that constant itch to learn, to better yourself, and to improve your skills in all areas. And I am revisiting this topic from that point of view. How can we improve our own learning styler by understanding the theory of multiple intelligences?

So what is multiple intelligence

Multiple Intelligences is a theory by Dr. Howard Gardner in the book Frames of Mind; the theory about multiple intelligences (1983) that in short says that we are all capable of using many types of intelligence. I first came in contact with the theory in the early 90s as a teacher in Sweden, and it has impacted both my way of teaching as my own learning.
In the theory, he originally talked about seven types of intelligence, and later on, added naturalist to that group. The ninth type is the existential intelligence which he just alludes might be its own intelligence, but more about that in my next article.
The nine intelligences, in the order I will address them are;

  • kinesthetic
  • existential
  • musical
  • naturalist
  • spatial
  • interpersonal
  • intrapersonal
  • mathematical
  • linguistic

I have chosen this order because that is the order I have found that traditional education environments are equipped for utilizing the specific intelligence from least to most. And if you often utilize one of the intelligence high in my list you might have run into problems in the traditional educational system.

Type of intelligence versus learning style

It is important to point out that type of intelligence and learning style is not the same thing. Intelligence is the process in our brain the convert what we are taking in, transform the information, and integrate it with earlier experiences and knowledge to create new knowledge.
Learning style is the method with which we collect this new information, for example, by reading, making models, listening to a lecture, and so forth.
We are all capable of using all the intelligence types but might have some preferences, just as we can utilize all learning styles but more often than not prefer to maybe read over listening.

How do you know if you have a strong kinesthetic intelligence?

Here I will give you a list of ten signs that might indicate that your kinesthetic intelligence is strong. This list is very stereotypical, and even if you show some of these signs it doesn’t prove that your kinesthetic intelligence is one you prefer. This is in no particular order;

  • you have good muscle memory
  • you learn best through hands-on learning
  • you often tap your feet/hands or doodle while listening
  • you get fidgety while sitting and listening for a long time
  • you learn best by doing or building
  • you are naturally good with tools
  • you can easily mimic other peoples movements and gestures
  • you like to explore your environment
  • you can carry on a detailed conversation while performing a physical task
  • you find it easy to learn a new dance or gymnastics program

5 easy tips to help the kinesthetic intelligence

As I said the kinesthetic intelligence, which needs physical activity to increase learning is the one that most often has problems in a traditional educational environment. Usually, you can’t walk around the room while at a lecture for example, but there are some easy things you can do to improve your own focus and therefor your own learning.

  1. If at a lecture or meeting where you know you will be sitting still and listen for a long time, place yourself in the back of the room. That way you can easily stand up without blocking anybody behind you. And sometimes just the process of standing instead of sitting can be enough to regain focus.
  2. If you are sitting, take notes, or just doodle, while listening. Just that small movement can be enough for you to be able to focus on what is being said.
  3. If you are studying by yourself, try to walk as you read your book or your notes. I used to have my more kinesthetic intelligent students walk around the classroom as they were reading, but this is not always possible, other students might need stillness and quiet to learn so there is often a conflict. But if you are studying by yourself take a walk as you you read. And if you are walking outdoors, make sure to do so in a safe place.
  4. Chewing gum, yes you heard me right, chewing gum is a non-intrusive, but a somewhat physical, activity that might be enough to stimulate your learning.
  5. Take frequent breaks. I don’t mean take an hour off from your studies, no take five minutes to get up from your desk or your computer, tidy up your study space, maybe empty the trash can, stretch, those short bursts of physical activity can help you regain focus and impact your learning.

My final thoughts

If you have a strong kinesthetic intelligence most traditional learning environments are not prepared for you. But do not discourage, we have all types of intelligences available in our repertoire, and we just have to find the best method to utilize them all in the best way possible in different environments.
I think the best thing is to work on developing all these types of intelligences, and try to develop your own learning style, and to do so we can start by learning more of each of the intelligences and all the different learning styles to find the right combination for ourselves.
If you are interested in learning more, follow me on this blog and on Youtube, where I will cover all of them in the upcoming weeks. And as always I will link my video about kinesthetic intelligence below.