When it comes to teaching students, there are many ways that individuals can benefit from various teaching strategies.

To accommodate a range of students, you will need to be aware of how they differ, and one of these ways is through the eight multiple intelligences suggested by Howard Gardner. One of these is intrapersonal intelligence. Howard Gardner’s theory suggests that intelligence is more than just your IQ and proposed eight different types of intelligence: spatial, naturalist, linguistic, musical, bodily kinaesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and logical-mathematical.

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Intrapersonal vs Interpersonal

Two intelligence types have very similar names and can easily be confused. The difference between intra and interpersonal is who it relates to. Generally, intrapersonal refers to understanding yourself, whereas intrapersonal intelligence has more to do with being intelligent regarding a particular subject, like math, literature, research, or sciences.

The history of intrapersonal intelligence

Philosophers have long contemplated a sense of introspection and searching yourself inwardly. As far back as Aristotle, Plato and Socrates, there are ideas telling people to look inwardly at themselves and reflect and examine ideas. These philosophers had a lot of impact on the philosophy of today and have led to further work by those such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, and Howard Gardner, who proposed the multiple intelligence theory and were influenced by the later writing of Nietzsche.

It is widely thought that Albert Einstein, a renowned genius who lived in the 1900s, was a character of immense intrapersonal intelligence. He was known to have a lot of features that placed him in this intelligence group. Those categorized as introspective are commonly self-motivated, introverted, and work more comfortably independently than in a group. Usually, these people are said to like activities such as journaling or mind mapping since this gives them the ability to present ideas in front of them and, in turn, helps to arrange their thoughts. Many intrapersonal intelligence people are known for having many thoughts, and so these methods of organizing their ideas are important to them.

Modern intrapersonal intelligent models

Known for presenting her ideas and thoughts in a very clear and organized way, Joan Didion is a famous writer who could be classed as a person of intrapersonal intelligence under Gardner’s model. Didion wrote a book entitled ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’, which details how she coped and the grief process as she dealt with the death of her husband, which occurred suddenly. After this, her daughter’s health rapidly declined, which is also a big part of the book. She speaks about ‘magical thinking’ as a descriptor of how she managed to work through the death of her husband. She talks about her time struggling with the personal topic of grief but still manages to convey her thoughts and sentiment very clearly.

Developing intrapersonal intelligence

Intrapersonal intelligence is something that many may want to work on improving for themselves. Like any skill or trait, you can work on yourself to improve in these areas and focus more on yourself. There are a few things that you can do to look more inwardly and develop your intrapersonal intelligence xt. These include journaling, making mind maps, writing, and introspection. These are great ways to learn more about yourself and grow. Looking inwardly at your thoughts, feeling and mechanisms is important to developing yourself and improving continually as you move through life in more than just knowledge and skills.

Intrapersonal intelligence in schools

Intrapersonal intelligence can also be utilized in a classroom to help students progress. Encouraging them to look inwardly and think about their feelings and what they have learned can help them gain knowledge. Putting these feelings and emotions into words or even writing is an important capability that can improve emotional intelligence and communication, helping children throughout life. There are a few ways you can encourage this in your students during an everyday classroom situation:

  • A daily writing prompt. Find space in the workday to assign a writing prompt each day. This could be a short exercise where you ask students to write a small paragraph about a certain topic.
  • Reflection. If you assign out-of-class reading, you can encourage reflection by asking the students to reflect on the topic they have read about or talked about in discussions or lessons.

Evolution of intrapersonal intelligence

It is commonly found amongst the multiple intelligence that they are not permanently fixed and have the potential to change and improve with time. As with most things, you can improve your intrapersonal intelligence with enough dedication to improving and by putting in the time to improve. In a school, you can be a great help towards this by including activities in your teaching that allow students to nurture their intrapersonal intelligence and help those for whom this is a natural ability to thrive.

As a teacher, you can help these students to come into their own through their natural ability, but also be able to make sure there are opportunities available for those that it doesn’t come naturally to.