9 Ways To Be Intelligent

Blog by Heidi-Jayne Boyes, Head

Think of the smartest person you know. How are they smart ?

We are learning about human intelligence all the time and how we measure up in different ways. 9 ways to be more specific.

It’s no longer just about IQ or the traditional, perhaps more familiar, measure of logical-mathematical intelligence. Traditional methods of evaluating intelligence, like the IQ test, don’t offer a holistic view of cognitive ability.

As Jim Kwik, author of Mindvalley’s SuperBrain Program says, “It’s not how smart you are, but how you are smart”. And that can be the key to unlocking your potential for success.

Development psychologist Howard Dardner sees intelligence as a resource which can be divided into 9 types. Importantly, understanding which of the types you are strongest in helps you understand the way you learn.

Which type of smart are you ?

The 9 types of Intelligence

People with this intelligence often show these characteristics:

People with this intelligence often thrive as:


Naturalistic intelligence
Able to navigate nature and read subtle shifts in flora and fauna Botanists, agriculturalists, astronomers, chefs, landscape architects

Musical intelligence

Sensitive to tone, pitch, timbre and rhythm - a finely tuned ear to all things acoustic

Composer, sound engineer, musician, music therapist

Logical - mathematical intelligence

Able to do well with numbers, logic puzzles, inductive and deductive reasoning

Scientists, technicians, mathematicians, accountants, analysts

Existential intelligence

A unique ability to tackle the big questions in life - philosophical, curious, abstract thinkers able to explore and debate

Motivational speakers, psychologists, teachers, theologists

Interpersonal intelligence

High levels of empathy - Interest in others, adept at reading and understanding their feelings and motives

Manager, team leader, social worker, teacher, nurse, psychologist

Bodily- kinesthetic intelligence

A talent for co-ordinating body and mind and skilled at manipulating physical environment

Dancers, athletes, performers, actors, mechanics and engineers

Linguistic intelligence

A way with words - possessing a rich vocabulary, often persuasive speakers

Journalists, novelists, lawyers, librarians, public speakers, radio announcers


Intrapersonal intelligence

Recognition of own feelings, motives, desires,understanding of what you want and why

Psychologists, counselors, teachers, philosophers

Visual-spatial intelligence

Conceptualizing abstract ideas, often gifted at solving puzzles and mazes

Architects, pilots, photographers, urban planners, graphic artists, surveyors

As our business communities place greater emphasis on ‘intangible skills’ it is key for education systems to respond. Understanding all types of intelligence is key to unlocking the potential of our girls. The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2020 identifies the key skills needed to thrive in most roles include tech skills and more human-centric skills. Creativity, persuasion and collaboration top the list of most in-demand soft skills. More employers, including tech giants, screen potential employees for their ‘learning ability’ - that is how able their employees are to solve problems on the fly (Google) and look for fearless, passionate employees with good debating skills, able to defend their point of view (Apple).

Whilst our education systems still have standardized testing, we are responding by preparing our girls so they are ‘ready for life’. As experts in educating girls, we already know it’s crucial to educate young women to know they can affect change, to know that their voices are important and to know that they are powerful. What’s new in our understanding about the jobs of the future is the imbalance in those acquiring the necessary skills - especially between men and women. It’s more critical than ever to start educating our girls early to develop the competence and confidence to correlate to future career choices.

Not all schools are fully able to take advantage of each intelligence since nationally many schools do not have structures which allow for this. Therefore, if a child has a musical gift or is highly independent, they can be labeled unmotivated, behaviorally challenged or sadly not considered “smart”.

At Wakefield Girls’ High School we tailor our teaching to meet each girl’s needs and bring these intelligences to the surface. In this way we bring out the best in every girl, strengthening intelligences, growing others and understanding how to use their smart.

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