Like many people out there I occasionally indulge in some easy reality TV to help switch off after a busy day in the training room. My current guilty pleasure? I’m a celebrity… get me out of here, usually enjoyed because of a secret love of Ant and Dec. This year however this ‘easy reality TV’ has become the source of great debate in my house and it all started with an anonymous rant on a social media site about a certain Joey Essex…
“How can someone like that be allowed to pollute the media with such a clear and contemptible lack of intelligence and education?”
Now I appreciate that Joey from Essex may not be everyone’s idea of smart, a young man that can’t blow his nose or tell the time (except on a digital watch) will certainly raise a few eyebrows. However I am astonished and somewhat dismayed that some people still quantify intelligence in terms of academia and that alone.
According to Howard Gardner the traditional definition of intelligence is too narrow. He believes human beings have nine different kinds of intelligence that reflect different ways of interacting with the world. Gardner identified that we all possess these 9 intelligences but we all have them in different configurations… no 2 individuals have the exact same configuration. So what are they?
1 – Linguistic Intelligence – ‘word or book smart’
2 – Logical/Mathematical Intelligence – ‘number or logic smart’
3 – Musical/Rhythmic Intelligence – ‘music or sound smart’
4 – Bodily/Kinaesthetic Intelligence – ‘body or movement smart’
5 – Spatial Intelligence – ‘visual or picture smart’
6 – Naturalist Intelligence – ‘nature or environment smart’
7 – Intrapersonal Intelligence – ‘self or introspection smart’
8 – Interpersonal Intelligence – ‘people or group smart’
9 – Existential Intelligence – ‘wondering smart’
Only 2 of the multiple intelligences identified by Gardner conform to the traditional ideal of ‘smart’ – Linguistic intelligence and Logical/Mathematical intelligence. That leaves 7 other areas where individuals and ‘celebrities’ may be considered intelligent.
David Beckham for example… I was one of many who wrongly branded Mr Beckham as not very bright, this assumption was mainly based on the limited, post-match interviews I’d seen on TV. However if you use the above list to quantify ‘intelligence’ no-one can argue that his Spatial and Bodily intelligence is far superior to my own or that of anyone I know for that matter… He’s not looking so daft now is he?
This concept of ‘intelligence’ is pivotal in the role of any learning and development professional. It not only gives us an indication of an individual’s capabilities, it also gives us an inescapable indication of someone’s preferences and learning style. Now THAT we can use in training.
For example, if we are trying to explain a management theory around team dynamics to someone who is weak logically but has strong spatial intelligence we might be better off presenting the information in a different way. Perhaps using the analogy of a football or rugby team for example. They are much more likely to be able to absorb and apply the information this way than if we forced them to read a text book or white paper about it.
So, back to Joey Essex. He clearly demonstrates a degree of Interpersonal Intelligence. He is socially oriented and outgoing, he sees the need of the group and responds to it by doing all he can to win tasks and generate food for camp. Yes he can’t tell the time but if ever I were lost in the Australian jungle and needed to win stars for food I know who I would want on my team and it’s not the ‘intelligent’ Albert Einstein, Leonardo Davinci or even David Beckham, it would indeed be Joey from Essex!!
“It’s not really how smart you are that counts, it’s how you are smart”