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We are all smart in different ways

By Dalia Ibrahim

We live in a world full of labels, categories, and standards. We are surrounded by paths to follow and specific goals to accomplish, to be considered smart and successful. If you look around you, you will find rules and targets everywhere, that tend to enclose us in cages, all the same size. We are prisoners of a world that wants us to be copies of one another, depriving us of individuality, originality, and creativity and turning us into anxious robots, fearing rejection and failure. 


If you are a student, you are asked to have impressive report cards and outstanding scores in international exams to be considered good enough; if you are looking for a job, your CV must take people’s breath away at first sight, and those few pages are either the key to your success or failure; and, finally, if you are currently working, I am sure that stress is your greatest

companion. For this, every task has turned into a quest, with more obstacles than help. 


Try to think for a moment about your life and your accomplishments. Do you feel you

always got what you deserved? Wasn’t it a struggle? Are you happy with your studies or job so far? Don’t you feel there are still hidden talents inside you that have no place to come out to in this materialistic, judgmental, and profit-oriented world? I am sure that, while answering these questions in your brain, you felt you are not given all that you deserve. I personally believe that every one of us still has an undiscovered realm inside him/her, something that needs to come to the light, something that can show to everyone how each

one of us is smart his/her own way. 


How can we be categorized in smart people and not, when theories prove that we are all intelligent but in different ways? To prove that, Howard Gardner, in his book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences (1983), claims that the word “intelligence” is not associated with IQ tests scores, but it is rather a synonym for different modalities and abilities of our brains: musical, visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinaesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalistic and existential. 


If, for instance, my multiple intelligences are verbal-linguistic, bodily-kinaesthetic,

interpersonal and naturalistic, this means that I am “word smart”, “body smart”, “people smart” and “nature smart” and, therefore, one can be smart in more than one way. This theory proves that testing one’s intelligence, following only specific criteria, is not only unfair but also illogical. Each one of us should be able to manifest his/her talents in the different areas his/her brain is good at; there is no absolute meaning for being intelligent or smart, but there are different nuances of meaning for it. 


For all these reasons, this theory should be taken into consideration at school, with lessons tailored to suit students’ different multiple intelligences and learning needs, as well as in all other aspects of our lives: we are different, and these differences should be respected, and we should never perceive them as obstacles. Let us be proud of ourselves, our talents, and our ways of manifesting them. Why limiting our potentials, when we can be more productive, by simply giving space to our brains to fully function? Let us discover what is still hidden inside us and do our best to impose it to the world. We are all intelligent, special, and unique and this is what enriches us. 


To know more about the theory of multiple intelligences:


To discover your multiple intelligences: