“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
~ Nelson Mandela
“What you can imagine depends on what you know.”
~ Daniel C. Dennett
The intellect is a conceptual toolbox which has enabeld humanity to survive, protect ourselves from the elements, explore our world, and manifest our inspirations in to a tangible reality. It’s the framework through which our ideas, and therefore emotions, and behaviors grow. The intellect, like any tool, must be crafted and maintained properly in order to work correctly and not injure the person using it.
There are several other types of intelligences. In understanding what intelligence is and how it works, Howard Gardner, Ph.D., Professor of Education at Harvard University, offers a compelling insight. Gardner’s early work in psychology and later in human cognition and human potential led to the development of what is now 9 different types of intelligences, with the possibility of others which may eventually expand the list. These intelligences (or competencies) relate to a person’s unique aptitude set of capabilities and ways they might prefer to demonstrate intellectual abilities.
This theory has emerged from recent cognitive research which “documents the extent to which students possess different kinds of minds and therefore learn, remember, perform, and understand in different ways,” according to Gardner. “Where individuals differ is in the strength of these intelligences – the so-called profile of intelligences -and in the ways in which such intelligences are invoked and combined to carry out different tasks, solve diverse problems, and progress in various domains.” Gardner claimed that the eight intelligences rarely operate independently. They are used at the same time and tend to complement each other as people develop skills or solve problems.
“[The varying intelligences] challenge an educational system that assumes that everyone can learn the same materials in the same way and that a uniform, universal measure suffices to test student learning. Indeed, as currently constituted, our educational system is heavily biased toward linguistic modes of instruction and assessment and, to a somewhat lesser degree, toward logical-quantitative modes as well. […] Students learn in ways that are identifiably distinctive. The broad spectrum of students – and perhaps the society as a whole – would be better served if disciplines could be presented in a numbers of ways and learning could be assessed through a variety of means.”
Visual-Spatial– think in terms of physical space, as do architects and navigators. Very aware of their environments. They like to draw, do jigsaw puzzles, read maps, daydream. They can be taught through drawings, verbal and physical imagery. Tools include models, graphics, charts, photographs, drawings, 3-D modeling, video, videoconferencing, television, multimedia, texts with pictures/charts/graphs.
Bodily-kinesthetic– use the body effectively, like a dancer or a surgeon. Keen sense of body awareness. They like movement, making things, touching. They communicate well through body language and be taught through physical activity, hands-on learning, acting out, role playing. Tools include equipment and real objects.
Auditory-Musical– show sensitivity to rhythm and sound. They love music, but they are also sensitive to sounds in their environments. They may study better with music in the background. They can be taught by turning lessons into lyrics, speaking rhythmically, tapping out time. Tools include musical instruments, music, radio, stereo, CD-ROM, multimedia.
Interpersonal– understanding, interacting with others. These students learn through interaction. They have many friends, empathy for others, street smarts. They can be taught through group activities, seminars, dialogues. Tools include the telephone, audio conferencing, time and attention from the instructor, video conferencing, writing, computer conferencing, E-mail.
Intrapersonal– understanding one’s own interests, goals. These learners tend to shy away from others. They’re in tune with their inner feelings; they have wisdom, intuition and motivation, as well as a strong will, confidence and opinions. They can be taught through independent study and introspection. Tools include books, creative materials, diaries, privacy and time. They are the most independent of the learners.
Linguistic– using words effectively. These learners have highly developed auditory skills and often think in words. They like reading, playing word games, making up poetry or stories. They can be taught by encouraging them to say and see words, read books together. Tools include computers, games, multimedia, books, tape recorders, and lecture.
Logical -Mathematical– reasoning, calculating. Think conceptually, abstractly and are able to see and explore patterns and relationships. They like to experiment, solve puzzles, ask cosmic questions. They can be taught through logic games, investigations, mysteries. They need to learn and form concepts before they can deal with details.
Naturalist intelligence –Ability to recognize and categorize plants, animals and other objects in nature. Naturalistic intelligence allows people to distinguish among, classify, and use features of the environment. Farmers, gardeners, botanists, geologists, florists, and archaeologists all exhibit this intelligence. This area has to do with nurturing and relating information to one’s natural surroundings. Examples include classifying natural forms such as animal and plant species and rocks and mountain types; and the applied knowledge of nature in farming, mining, etc.
Existential intelligence –Ability to use collective values and intuition to understand others and the world around them. Individuals who excel in this intelligence typically are able to see the big picture. Philosophers, theologians, and life coaches are among those that Howard Gardner sees as having high existential intelligence. Sees the big picture. Interested in questions about life, death, and beyond. Able to look beyond the senses to explain phenomena. Likes to be outside. Strong interest in society and those around them. Sensitivity and capacity to tackle deep questions about human existence such as: What is the meaning of life? Why do we die? How did we get here?
At first, it may seem impossible to teach to, or even appeal to all learning styles. However, as we move into using a mix of media and learning dynamics, knowledge becomes more easily accessible to all involved. As we begin to understand learning styles, it becomes apparent why multimedia is typically most effective, appealing to a broad spectrum of learners. It satisfies the many types of learning preferences that a class embodies, keeping the information engaging and applicable for optimal absorption.
Regardless of the learning style, we typically miss out on the the fundamentals: the most classically renown, fundamentally essential, and important method of critical thinking: The Trivium. It has been suggested that the Trivium has been purposefully removed from public education since students who have the capacity to truly think critically will quickly question and see through the propaganda and shortcomings of the educational system (and authoritarian institutions on the whole). Indeed, the Trivium provides a way to systematically cut through lies, remove contradictions, and navigate through logical fallacies (such as strawman arguments, red herrings, ad hominem attacks, appeals to emotion, appeals to authority, etc), thereby helping the intellect to operate clearly and effectively with discernment.
The history of the Trivium, and its corresponding aspects of the sensory perception, Quadrivium, and the 7 Liberal Arts, is extensive and worth researching on its own, but for the sake of brevity as an overview, we’ll present a synopsis to get a basic understanding. The Trivium, in its most commonly known form, was primarily developed by Aristotle but originates in antiquity, and is comprised of 3 aspects: Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric- specifically in that order.
1.) Grammar(Knowledge of that which exists) answers the question of the Who, What, Where, and the When of a subject, discovering, researching, and ordering facts of reality to acquire Knowledge.
2.) Logic(Understanding of the interrelationships of that which exists) answers the Why of a subject, finding the conclusions based on Grammar/research leading to Understanding.
3.) Rhetoric(Communication of Grammar and Logic) provides the How of a subject, applying Knowledge (grammar) and Understanding (logic) leading to the transference of Wisdom
As an analogy, if we think of knowledge like building a house, Grammar acts as the building blocks of Knowledge, Logic is the house completely built with all contradictions removed to create Understanding, and Rhetoric is the architect explaining how the house was built so that others can also understand and build their own house through Wisdom. By learning and applying the Trivium, we begin to stop wasting time and energy in unproductive actions and discussions which often hold us back, personally and collectively.
However, no one system is a perfect panacea unto itself. The Trivium has its limitations which must be understood and taken in to consideration, such as constraining “reality” to only that which can be observed through the 5 major senses (ignoring several other senses of introceptionandforms of ESP), or using incorrect definitions to define the terms of one’s Grammar, thereby falsifying any subsequent “Logic”. Regardless, the Trivium, applied correctly with mindful consideration for its limitations, is an extremely powerful tool which helps us sharpen our minds and navigate through life.
The history of the Trivium and its application is extensive and well worth investigating. For a deeper explanation, watch the following video:
Once we have the proper foundation upon which to build our intellectual “house”, the mind has an incredible capacity to learn HOW TO LEARN even more quickly through accelerated learning techniques. Through utilizing these accelerated learning techniques which incorporate various modalities depending on an individual’s preferred learning style, we can learn to absorb knowledge more quickly, retain more knowledge, recall information more clearly, manage our time more effectively, and become more efficient, productive, and conscious than ever before. By accessing ever greater information, we can gain more knowledge to overcome obstacles and unlock our potential (and help others unlock theirs!).
Self-esteem & Willpower play a crucial role in one’s motivation and abilities in learning. This may seem obvious, but it’s so simple that it’s often overlooked. Getting prepared by setting the proper preconditions for learning is like providing nutrients to the soil of your mind’s garden. The more optimal the conditions for growth, the better we can flourish. This doesn’t mean one should inflate their ego and be self-absorbed, but, rather, it’s best to simply have a healthy self-esteem that’s embodied.Compared to people with low self-esteem, people that are more self-confident are often more open, enthusiastic, determined, focused, and willing to take risks, all of which are imperative for accelerated learning. Even in childhood, those whose self-esteem is validated and encouraged through exploration of games and cooperative projects tend to develop much faster, be more well-adjusted, and are generally more capable than those who aren’t. Having a healthy psychological self-image is conducive to having a positive, optimistic, and enthusiastic outlook on one’s abilities.
However, if you’re shy and going through a difficult period, lacking confidence and a healthy self-image, fear not. When a person has the willpower and determination to improve one’s circumstances, it can ignite a fire that propels them toward learning in order to make sense of things and overcome their challenges. The steps taken toward knowledge and the marked improvement gained along the way will build a person’s self-worth, especially when they share their experience and knowledge with others, helping those in similar circumstances thereby gaining external validation. The personal connections made through personal sharing and gratitude, especially in times of hardship, are some of the most powerful sources of motivation and support.
Identify what your preferred learning styles are by taking a look at the list of multiple intelligence above. Do you prefer music or silence when learning? Do you prefer learning in a group experience or being alone to focus? Perhaps the styles could vary depending on the context. Perhaps engaging multiple methods of learning can help increase your ability to retain and apply information. Examples of this are: Reading, visualizing, taking notes by putting the thoughts in to your own words, and then highlighting the major points. And creating questions and answering them aloud, while gesturing to physically emphasize the points.Becoming familiar with your natural strengths, and applying them to learn more skills, is the first step to accelerated learning. You may find that new learning styles may develop over time, but don’t force it. The point is to utilize your strengths, your natural inclinations, your talents as a springboard for processing information more rapidly. There’s no point in trying to teach a fish to climb a tree when a fish is meant to swim. So don’t fight against your inherent nature; use it to your advantage. Stick with your natural strengths (but feel free to explore other learning modalities on occasion as well).
Getting prepared to learn can be just as valuable as what one does during the learning itself. Have you noticed that many of your earliest memories, whether positive or negative, are directly connected to a strong emotion you were experiencing at the time? This amazing feat of recollection illustrates the direct correlation between emotional triggering and the retention of memory in the hippocampus and the amygdala. Since people are naturally inclined toward positive feedback mechanisms (things that bring pleasure), we’ll incline toward more positive emotional triggering as well. Get excited about learning a particular subject by thinking about WHO you will become by learning it, WHAT you’ll be able to gain and give, WHERE you will go by applying the knowledge, WHY it’s important, and HOW it can transform your life and the lives of those around you.Education shouldn’t be a chore; it is an opportunity that opens us up to infinite possibilities! Like athletes before a game, it helps to get yourself “psyched up” (while remaining focused and clear), feeling empowered and making strong emotional associations to the material you’re about to learn.
Find your optimal time to learn. Some people learn better in the mornings when they’re freshly awake. Others learn best before bed, finding that they retain information better since the mind is reviewing and organizing itself during sleep. Some people need to specifically set aside time to concentrate on what they’re learning. Explore and discover what strategy works best for you.
Time Management is an essential organizational tool to effectively handle our busy lives by organizing a broad array of objectives in an efficient manner. Great accomplishment takes great effort, and not everything in life that needs doing will be fun and enticing. Our ability to DO what NEEDS DOING, regardless of whether we want to or not, is a key component to achieving long-term goals, whether it be setting aside the time to practice a musical instrument, read a book, or work out for a half hour every other day instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media websites.Some people quickly get bored with repetitive menial tasks, prefer to fixate on the “fun stuff”, or are so obsessed about detail that they lose the ability to effectively prioritize their time. The habit of procrastination hinders our lives and our abilities to achieve, but thankfully, there are ways to overcome procrastination. Creating a “Priorities Board” is a great way to remind yourself of what’s most important. Taking 5 minutes at the beginning of your day to organize your priorities in a daily planner (paper or digital) can potentially save you HOURS of deliberation, travel, distraction, and self-doubt.
The following video illustrates the power of prioritization in time management, focusing on the bigger issues first, and then taking care of the smaller ones afterward.
Multitasking is another great way to accomplish more than you thought was ever possible. No time for reading? Listen to audiobooks while cleaning the house or commuting. No time for yoga class? Stretch your body while at the computer or taking a shower. A little mindfulness and creativity transforms our obligations into fun opportunities to maximize our potential.
Take regular breaks. If you’ve ever rapidly poured water on the ground, you’ll notice it eventually pools and then some of it trickles away. Your mind, much like the soil, has a threshold for what it can efficiently process in a given period of time, and therefore needs a period of absorption to allow new information to soak in. There is a good deal of evidence to show how taking breaks actually increases your productivity. Honoring our mind’s threshold for processing new information by taking regular breaks not only keeps the experience highly productive, but enjoyable, which ensures a bright educational future.
Stay active. Regularly caring for your body by getting up to walk around, stretch, and go outside is important. Getting in to the body and relaxing allows us to be more physically and mentally free-flowing. When we relax, we take deeper breaths which oxygenizes the blood, which nourishes the brain, which, in turn, creates a supercharged state of awareness and enhanced well-being.
Learn to read faster and more efficiently. The reasons for doing this are obvious and apply throughout all our lives. Think of how often we read during the day (from the computer to the supermarket) and how much time learning how to read faster would save us. There are numerousprovenmethods for accomplishing this available online, so we don’t need to list it all here.
Take creative notes. Putting information in to your own words/ symbols through note-taking/ making pictures combines many aspects of learning in to one practice. Not only will it make review more fun and efficient, but you will learn more quickly since information tends to be retained more easily when it holds a greater personal significance and appeal for you. There are several methods of note-taking which can appeal to the varying styles of learning and help with review later on, such as:
– Creating “Mind Maps” to synthesize, distill, combine, and connect core ideas in a holistic, fast, and easily understood diagram.
– Making notes in the margins of books, doodling, underlining, using colorful highlighting, or verbally recording your thoughts and passages.
– Making funny or memorable mnemonic devices, rhymes, and creative visualization to remember lists or specific details.The human mind is designed to notice things that stand out, that are “unusual”, things that break up the pattern. Adding funny, strange, colorful, or otherwise exciting elements to your learning process will help reinforce your ability to quickly and clearly recall information later on.
Review often. If it’s worth learning in the first place, it’s worth reviewing it to retain it. To really anchor information in our minds, briefly review your notes after an hour of reading it, then before you go to bed, then after one day, after one week, one month, then after 6 months. Just take a minute or two, grasping the key points. Overall, the total review time will probably take less than 30 minutes in the 6 month period of time, getting progressively easier. To further help, read the words aloud dramatically, even getting in character and using a fake accent to make it more memorable.
Consistency & Variety keeps us engaged. The more diversely you use your brain, the more connections are made, allowing us to learn more rapidly. Gradual, consistent increase with new exercises, like weight lifting, keeps our minds in shape. Studies have shown that challenging your mind like this can keep it fresh, sharp, and flexible at virtually any age. So keep in mind that dedication to these accelerated learning techniques is the only way to make them work. If you’re easily distracted or procrastinate, keep reminding yourself why this is so important. As the old adage says, “Use it or lose it”. In a very real sense, you are the architect of your own brain.
Get a learning partner. Engage in question & answer, review, and planning with each other. To communicate, we must put our concepts in clear, concise terms, which helps us reiterate and remember. As one finds in study groups and book clubs, the more perspectives that are engaged, the more windows are opened to flood our minds with the light of new facts and the breeze of fresh concepts. By creating relationships which support this mutual interest in self-work and education, we find support and motivation which can fuel us on all levels.
Furthermore, by learning and applying it with others, we more quickly turn knowledge in to understanding- which, compared to knowledge, is deeper, richer, and more embodied.
“Knowledge is one thing, understanding is another thing. People often confuse these concepts and do not clearly grasp what is the difference between them. Knowledge by itself does not give understanding. Nor is understanding increased by an increase of knowledge alone. Understanding depends upon the relation of knowledge to Being. Understanding is the resultant of knowledge and being. And knowledge and being must not diverge too far, otherwise understanding will prove to be far removed from either. At the same time the relation of knowledge to being does not change with a mere growth of knowledge. It changes only when being grows simultaneously with knowledge.
In other words, understanding grows only with the growth of being. In ordinary thinking, people do not distinguish understanding from knowledge. They think that greater understanding depends on greater knowledge. Therefore they accumulate knowledge, or that which they call knowledge, but they do not know how to accumulate understanding and do not bother about it.”
Never underestimate the power of the mind. Your intelligence is one thing that can’t be taken from you, except by severe injury, illness, or sometimes being with someone who you find extremely attractive (you know it’s true!). You could lose all your possessions, all your money, and go through some of the most devastating circumstances, yet your most valuable asset to rebuild in society will always be your mental faculties of knowledge, understanding, and skill. Knowledge is a primary factor that allows you to do almost anything you want to do in life, and it is practically limitless.
It took humanity thousands of years to pass from the Agricultural Age to the Industrial Age. The industrial Age passed more quickly than any other age before in history, starting in 1815 and ending just a few years ago as we moved in to the Information Age. Humanity is moving with exponential expediency from emphasis of physical muscle to mental muscle. Now, due to the consequences of globalized industrialization, we are living in the most opulent yet turbulent time in all of human history with change happening more frequently, more rapidly, and more unpredictably than ever before.
If we can say one thing for certain about the future, it’s that it will change even more rapidly and unpredictably than the present. The demand for skills will change with the times, but the ability to rapidly learn is timeless. Therefore, to thrive in the future, we too must change and learn more quickly in order to adapt. We must learn how to learn more quickly and strive to continue learning throughout life for greater awareness, communication, creative potential, expression, self-confidence, income, security, and the ability to overcome obstacles in our path toward wholeness.