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Creative Intelligences

By Amir Elion

There are many models and techniques that aim to help people come up with creative ideas. In this article I describe an original way of using Howard Gardner's theory of Multiple Intelligences as a helpful pattern for generating a wide range of ideas in any subject.

I must first review the basics of Gardner's theory, so that you may later understand how I use it as a creative tool. Howard Gardner is a well-known researcher and author on the subject of thinking and intelligence. His theory of Multiple Intelligences challenged the limited concept of intelligence as measured by logical and mathematical tests (e.g. IQ or SAT exams). Instead, he claimed that there is more than one kind of intelligence, and that each kind is valuable for human activity. It is beyond the scope of this article to fully describe this theory. For the purpose of using this model as a creative tool, I will only list the seven different types of intelligences along with a basic explanation of each:

  1. Linguistic: the ability to use language to excite, please, convince, stimulate or convey information.

  2. Logical-Mathematical: the ability to explore patterns, categories and relationships by manipulating objects or symbols.

  3. Intrapersonal: the ability to understand, express and control one's inner feelings, dreams and ideas.

  4. Interpersonal: the ability to understand other people, their goals, motivations, intentions, and to communicate with them.

  5. Spatial: the ability to navigate and to perceive objects and directions.

  6. Musical: the ability to perform, compose or enjoy a musical piece.

  7. Bodily-Kinesthetic: the ability to use the body in sports, performance arts, and other motorical tasks.

Seven Intelligence Types and Creativity

Now how may this be used for creating new ideas? The way I use it is to examine how the subject I am thinking of may be expressed or enhanced through each of these intelligence types. To make this clearer, let me provide a detailed example.

Say your 10 years old child's birthday was coming up, and you wanted to prepare some special activities for his birthday party. Following is a list of nice ideas you could use, each emphasizing and activating one of the above intelligence types.Your kid's guests would enjoy a diverse range of games and tasks, through which each could express their best abilities and skills:

  1. Linguistic: let the children write a short poem of 2-4 lines, on the theme of birthdays and parties.

  2. Logical-Mathematical: let them solve simple mathematical riddles in which the letters of their names have been encrypted into numbers according to some logical rule.

  3. Intrapersonal: ask the children to close their eyes, and think of one good experience they had on their own birthday, and another which was less pleasant.

  4. Interpersonal: The children may share their experiences from the previous idea in couples, and practice listening to the other person without commenting or questioning.

  5. Spatial: any game with their eyes closed, in which they have to go around the room, or alternatively feel an object and guess what it is.

  6. Musical: one child makes a rhythmic sound, and all the others must repeat that sound exactly. The child than adds another sound to form a combination of two sounds, and kids repeat, etc.

  7. Bodily-Kinesthetic: well — obviously the game of Charades is a great way to move and demonstrate bodily control.

Creative Intelligences — not just for children

As I mentioned earlier, you may use the seven intelligences for almost any subject that is related to people. I am sure you can come up with very interesting ideas for arranging your office if you focus on each of these seven intelligences, or of some original ways to spend a romantic evening with your sweetheart (I'd love to hear about that...).

Copyright 2005 Amir Elion and

About the Author
Amir Elion is a management and innovation consultant and facilitator. He was a part of a group that developed a unique method for training diverse skills through the use of board games. He has a degree in Philosophy and General studies and an MA in organizational behavior. His maintains and updates a website on creative ideas for business, workplace and personal uses. His website is at 12/06/05

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