What is Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence?

You may be aware that there are various types of thinking with which individuals best process information, but did you know that one such involves being active and is called bodily-kinesthetic intelligence?

The premise that various learning preferences exist in individuals comes from Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. There are a total of eight types of intelligence that make up this theory. Kinesthetic is the least common and, thus, is not well understood by many. Let’s take a closer look at this frame of making meaning and the kinds of instruction that are most effective for these learners.

About the Theory of Multiple Intelligences

Gardner introduced his theory in 1983 with his book, “Frames of Mind.” This work was revolutionary in the field of education, particularly regarding the ways in which people view intelligence. The theory is now a fundamental one in teacher preparation programs because it is so instrumental in helping teachers to customize their lessons in ways that best meet the needs of their students.

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It is believed that we all possess more than one of the eight intelligence types. These are logical-mathematical, musical-rhythmic, visual-spatial, intrapersonal, interpersonal, naturalistic, verbal-linguistic and bodily-kinesthetic intelligence. The unique combination of the types someone possesses are what determine that person’s strengths and inclinations.

Intelligence as Defined by Gardner

Gardner defines intelligence differently with regard to his theory than it is traditionally used. In this case, it isn’t a measure of how smart a person is. Rather, the term refers to one’s aptitudes or abilities. In order to be a measure of Gardner’s intelligence, seven criteria must be met. The first condition that must be met is that the modality needs to be a characteristic that would provide an advantage in term of evolution. Next, the intelligence measure must be linked to one specific brain region. In addition, the aspects that represent the bulk of the aptitude need to be clearly apparent in a person and must represent the skill. It should also be able to be seen in isolation. And it has to be observable throughout one’s development. Sixth, to be deemed an intelligence, an aspect must be measurable. Finally, there must be a way to recognize it through psychological diagnostic methods.

Understanding Body-Kinesthetic Intelligence

Body-kinesthetic intelligence is high in individuals who are skilled in the use of their bodies and who control their motions adeptly. Such people are able to understand the ultimate goal of a physical movement, possess a strong sense of timing and are quick to adjust their responses to physical stimuli. People such as dancers, athletes, actors and skilled craftspeople can be considered to have body-kinesthetic intelligence. These folks excel at learning activities that are hands-on and that allow them to practice a skill, rather than to passively read or listen to information. Learning techniques that are helpful for this type of student are ones in which he or she can be active. Manipulating models, actually practicing the steps of a task, moving while studying are all examples of strategies for effective understanding when it comes to kinesthetic aptitudes.

Knowing what kind of intelligence is strongest in particular students can help teachers to provide lessons that promote these aptitudes. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence is best met through activities involving motion, hands-on practice, physical manipulation and other active steps.