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November 1, 1998
Vol. 56
No. 3

The Other Intelligences (Oy Vey!)

A middle school teacher reveals certain heretofore underappreciated abilities of her students.

Instructional Strategies
By now, most teachers have heard of Howard Gardner's theory of the seven multiple intelligences, otherwise know as MI. At a recent inservice program on MI, the presenter informed us that an eighth intelligence has been discovered and that, in fact (her voice dropped to a whisper), there might be a ninth intelligence! The audience gasped and begged for more, but the presenter discreetly refused to divulge her source or to elaborate on the information.
I humbly submit that I was not surprised at the news. In my own classroom, I have observed at least seven Other Intelligences. I must caution the reader that although my findings might apply to students and people of all ages, my test sample involved only middle school students. In this report, I refer to the Other Intelligences as OI, pronounced "Oy," as in "Oy vey."

The Seven Other Intelligences

OI 1—The Random-Thinking Intelligence. This intelligence manifests itself in the student's ability to maintain a flow of random thoughts that do not pertain in any way to the immediate subject matter of the class. This intelligence is one of the more difficult to measure. Note that if you call on a Random-Thinking Intelligent student and he or she answers correctly, adding, "Hey, I can't believe I knew the answer. I mean, that was like a total accident!" then the student has not fully developed this particular intelligence. Success will be demonstrated when none, not even one, of the student's random thoughts collides with anything you are attempting to teach.
OI 2—The Virtual-Memory-Void Intelligence. This intelligence is tricky to identify. It is characterized by the student's ability to erase entire sections of personal memory. Some students are able to develop this intelligence to such an astonishing degree that even with relentless reminders, they are able to maintain selective gaps in their memory. Look for this intelligence in students who say, with the most compelling tones and facial expressions, "You never told me we had a test today" or "I never got the homework assignment yesterday." Unenlightened teachers sometimes misinterpret manifestations of this intelligence as an indication that the student is deliberately lying when, in fact, the student has such a highly developed Virtual-Memory-Intelligence that he or she is utterly and completely sincere.
OI 3—The Anti-Gravity Intelligence. This intelligence is responsible for some students' ability to balance on two legs of their chairs for extended periods of time. Most students with strong Anti-Gravity Intelligence can balance in this way for approximately 40 minutes, but in a few rare instances, students following a block schedule have been known to balance for up to one and one-half hours. OI-intolerant teachers actually try to discourage expressions of this sort of intelligence by saying, "All four legs of your chair on the floor, please" or "Stop leaning back in your chair." Please note: If your Anti-Gravity Intelligent students occasionally sit in the traditional, four-legged manner—or fall backwards, upending their desks and several other students—then they have not fully developed their Anti-Gravity potential.
OI 4—The Intra-Vacancy Intelligence. This intelligence is obvious in students who are able, remarkably, to achieve perfect inner vacancy and peace without any apparent effort. Philosophers, spiritual leaders, gurus, and psychologists who spend years of their lives trying to achieve such inner peace would do well to study these natural masters. Efforts by unenlightened, though well-meaning, teachers to sully the tabula rasa of these students is fortunately met with perfect resilience.
OI 5—The Inter-Origami Intelligence. This intelligence is most commonly expressed not only through the reading and writing of notes to classmates, but especially through the folding of such notes into an astounding variety of paper shapes that would challenge the most venerable origami expert. The preferred medium of expression for this intelligence is unusually loud paper. The most fascinating aspect of the Inter-Origami Intelligence is that the students most talented at reading, writing, folding, and unfolding notes are apparently illiterate in any other context.
OI 6—The Stealth-Kinesthetic Intelligence. This intelligence is expressed mainly through peashooting spitballs through gutted pens. There is some controversy over whether this is a true intelligence, with some observers claiming that it is too specific. However, when we consider the expression of this intelligence, the full range of skills involved will convince even the most vehement critics that this is indeed an intelligence all its own. Consider the dexterity required to transform an ordinary pen into a peashooter and the skill needed to covertly manufacture spitballs from tiny pieces of torn-up paper. Then, with lightening speed and agility, the attack! The precision required to hit the target and the sleight of hand needed to avoid detection are so demanding of the brain's motor cortex that Stealth-Kinesthetically gifted students are taxed past the point of being able to do anything else.
OI 7—The Self-Oblivious Intelligence. One of the most frequently misunderstood of the intelligences, the Self-Oblivious Intelligence is apparent in students who talk, subvocalize, babble, or make funny noises without knowing it. Variations of this intelligence are foot tapping, pen flicking, chair scraping, and desk kicking. When asked to stop making the noise in question, the student invariably replies, "Stop what? I wasn't talking [babbling, kicking, scraping, tapping, or making funny noises]!"
Unfortunately, it may be a long time before these Other Intelligences receive the recognition and respect they deserve. Although we teachers are trying to embrace and explore the many different styles of learning, I fear that it will take years of intensive inservice experiences with highly trained professionals before we learn to appreciate the Other Intelligences.

Kim Chase has been a contributor to Educational Leadership.

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