What was the last time you saw a picture in a law textbook? I can hardly remember any. Studying law in a traditional law school setting emphasizes verbal and logical activities: words and reasoning. However, there are at least six other ways that people can relate to information, according to the theory of multiple intelligences developed by Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University. (See Gardner, Howard. Intelligence Reframed: Multiple Intelligences for the 21st Century. New York: Basic, 2000. ) These intelligences are:
- Linguistic intelligence. People with a highly developed linguistic intelligence are good with words and languages, they can express themselves well and use words as a preferred way to remember information. To continue with my cooking analogy, food enthusiasts with a high linguistic intelligence who aspire to become a show host at the Food Network can now apply for a new season of the Next Food Network Star.
- Logical-mathematical intelligence. People with a highly developed logical-mathematical intelligence are good at detecting patterns, reasoning deductively and thinking logically. Those are the molecular gastronomy chefs from my previous post.
- Musical intelligence. People with a highly developed musical intelligencer are good at recognizing and composing musical pitches, tones, and rhythms. These people think in sounds and are often sensitive to the sounds in their immediate environment. How about creating menus to go with your favorite operas? Food historian Francine Segan wrote a new book of musical meals: The Opera Lover's Cookbook.
- Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence. People with a highly developed bodily-kinesthetic intelligence are good at expressing themselves through movement. Body movement helps them to process information. The Japanese cooking art of Teppanyaki “on the grill” comes to mind, where chefs cook delicious meals on the tabletop right in front of the guests while skillfully sending metal spatulas and eggs into the air.
- Spatial intelligence. People with a highly developed spatial intelligence are good at recognizing and using spatial patterns. They tend to think in pictures and use them to retain information. Have you seen what some of the pastry chefs cook up?
- Naturalist intelligence. People with a highly developed naturalist intelligence are good at recognizing, categorizing and drawing upon certain elements in nature. Perhaps, organic chefs come from this category.
- Interpersonal intelligence. People with a highly developed interpersonal intelligence are good at relating to people and understanding their motivation, intentions and emotions. Would you like a personal chef, anyone?
- Intrapersonal intelligence. People with a highly developed intrapersonal intelligence have a good awareness of their own motivations, desires and feelings. They tend to engage in self-reflection and self-analysis. Could that be me in the kitchen?
Why is this important?
First, if we can figure out what kind of learners we are and how we process information, we can determine out strengths and weaknesses and predict our biggest challenges in the learning process.
Second, we can adjust our own studying patterns to rely more on our strengths. For example, if you suspect that you are really strong on spatial intelligence, you may want to include some pictures, charts, mind maps in your outline for better recall.
Third, we may decide to work on some of our weaknesses more if overcoming them is really important for success. For example, we can pay more attention to our writing and get help if needed.
Last but not least, we can decide how we want to use our strengths in the practice of law. Are you great with clients because you have a high level of empathy? A skillful use of body language may convey trustworthiness to a jury in a courtroom. If you are sensitive to sound patterns, you may be able to “read” people better at the negotiation table by paying attention to their voice pitch and intonation.
Anything else you can add to the list?