“Developing intelligences to create a better concept of an educated person”


By Dennis Sale

How important are other types of intelligence?

In a previous article, I analyzed the concept of IQ and explained how intelligence can be improved through educational methods. Today, I compare and contrast three other types of intelligence, emotional intelligence (EI), social intelligence (SI) and cultural intelligence (CI), and describe their usefulness in terms of improving learning and well-being.

A central author on EI is Goleman (1998), whose main thesis was that emotional illiteracy is responsible for many social ills, including mental illness, crime, and academic failure. He links EI to moral character: “…emotional literacy goes hand in hand with character education, moral development and citizenship.

In the current context of increasing mental health problems (however defined), this is an important area to consider, both for educational institutions and in the broader societal context. .

There are different definitions of EI, but Goleman’s 5 dimensions provide a sufficiently representative framework and are illustrated below:

  • Self-knowledge (understanding oneself, integrating internal conflicts, knowing emotional strengths and weaknesses).

Even a brief analysis of Goleman’s dimensions suggests much merit in the development of EI, as these apply to all areas of human interaction, as well as the ability to self-regulate and maintain personal well-being.

Social intelligence has been concisely defined by Albrecht (2018), as “…the ability to get along well with others and get them to cooperate with you”.

As communication and collaboration are high on any list of 21st century skills, IS would seem to be a highly desirable attribute, along with EI. Key skills include:

  • Sensory acuity – the ability to notice, monitor and make sense of external signals from other people. We do this by evaluating the results of our behavior on others, and this requires good observation and listening skills.

If you now compare and contrast EI and SI, noting the similarities and differences, and making interpretations about what it might mean in terms of specific behavior in different situations, then you are doing good critical thinking. So, let’s complete this thought process by considering the main characteristics of cultural intelligence.

CI, according to Livermore (2010), comprises four different abilities:

  • Drive (motivation) is your interest and confidence in operating effectively in culturally diverse environments. Without the desire to meet the challenges that inevitably accompany multicultural situations, competence is not likely to occur.

  • Knowledge (cognition) is your knowledge of how cultures are similar and different. There is no emphasis on being an expert on every culture you encounter, as that would be overwhelming and impossible. Rather, it is about having some understanding of fundamental cultural differences and their underlying basis.

  • Strategy (meta-cognition) is how you make sense of culturally diverse experiences. It involves making judgments about your own thought processes in relation to how you feel about different cultural practices and how you might treat people from those cultures.

  • Action (behaviour) is your ability to adapt your behavior appropriately to different cultures. This involves having a flexible repertoire of responses suited to various situations, being able to adopt preferred strategies, while remaining true to oneself (e.g., not compromising core beliefs about right and wrong ).

The various dimensions above are interdependent through these three intelligences. For example, people who know (are cognitive and aware of and understand) how to establish interpersonal relationships but have no desire to do so (motivation) will not function socially intelligently, let alone demonstrate cultural sensitivity. In this sense, the motivational disposition of individuals determines their entire orientation towards the world around them.

Similarly, and unfortunately, some people can be highly motivated to display EI, SI, and CI, and are able to effectively assess their own thinking, feelings, and behavior about interpersonal situations (i.e., that is, they are cognitive and metacognitive) but are unable to apply it effectively. (i.e. behavior) in real-life contexts. This is because they do not have the level of skills necessary to substantiate the skills. To use an analogy for this last scenario: no matter how motivated I am to play football like Cristiano Ronaldo, and understand how he plays football (i.e. cognition and metacognition), I cannot not play like him (i.e. behavior). The reason is, of course, simple – I don’t have his skill level.

Typically, people who consistently display a high level of proficiency in these three intelligences possess the necessary skill levels, and this is usually the result of considerable experience in various social groups and cultures, as well as deliberate practice. over time.

In summary, the considerations of these intelligences highlight what I consider to be good generic principles of human conduct that are existential to the human condition, regardless of cultural context.

These facilitate the building of trust, respect and rapport – all essential elements of an effective learning relationship. In this context, Nucci’s (2001) framework of research findings relating to the universality of moral principles is relevant in today’s moral and educational landscape: “…the domain of morality is structured around questions which are universal and not arbitrary”. The heart of human morality is a concern for fairness and human well-being. Thus, there is a fundamental core of morality around which educators can build their educational practices without imposing arbitrary standards or falling back into value relativism.

Is there a need to develop these intelligences as well as other essential mental capacities such as metacognition, both in educational institutions and in the wider global context? I think so, and that may be a more authentic concept of an educated person.

  • Dennis Sale has worked in Singapore’s education system for 25 years as an advisor, researcher and examiner. He has coached over 15,000 teaching professionals and provided over 100 consultants in the Asian region. Dennis is the author of the books Creative Teachers: Self-directed Learners (Springer 2020) and Creative Teaching: An Evidence-Based Approach (Springer, 2015). To contact Dennis, visit dennissale.com.


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