(This is an old reflection that I accidentally saved as a draft, so I’m posting now! Hope that’s okay.)
Reading Gardner’s article about Multiple Intelligences and hearing John Comazzi expand on the theory in class sparked a lot of thoughts in my mind. I was particularly drawn to the briefly touched upon idea of socialization playing a vital role in our development of these capacities or ‘intelligences’. Though Gardner’s theories often stressed the need for there to be a physical indication in the brain in order for something to be considered a universal intelligence, he also briefly touched on the way in which these capacities are learned and formed at an early age, alongside being naturally/genetically coded. Indeed, in this sense I found that his theory really connected with a lot of my own knowledge from taking social science/Anthropology classes. Having taken Linguistic classes, I know that the more exposed you are to different sounds and languages at a young age, the easier you will find it to learn a new language later on in life. Additionally, and perhaps more significantly, your oral/conversational skills will also be considerably better than those without such early exposure. This is because languages are laced with meaningful sounds, sounds that a native speaker will recognize, but non-native speakers will often be unable to decipher or will simply not be aware of and will therefore not be able to mimic them properly in speech. This often gets muddled with the idea of having the right 'accent’, but is actually a lot more complex than that. Individuals who are exposed to a lot of different languages at a young age will have a trained ear that is used to hearing and differentiating between sounds and will therefore be more likely to recognize and use meaningful sounds when speaking new languages. This is fundamentally Linguistic Intelligence and my Mother is a prime example of it! Growing up as the daughter of an Italian diplomat, she travelled all over the world during her childhood and was exposed to many, many different cultural environments and new languages! She didn’t formally learn all of these languages, but simply heard them. She now speaks English, Italian, French, and Spanish, and can usually pull off a conversation in German, Chinese, and Portuguese because her ear and mind are so in-tune.
To me, it seems that some areas of our intelligence (referring to Gardner’s whole theory rather than IQ) are often highly influenced and even formed through the process of socialization. What we are exposed to during our childhood and the things we are taught in our family units, in school, or in pretty much any social context is what really forms our differing 'intelligences’. I guess that’s why it’s so important for us to make an effort to continue that experience, to learn and play throughout life, even as an adult, and particularly with and from others. I think that although nature and biology obviously play a big part in determining some of our innate skills or areas of prodigy/expertise, the fact that we are social creatures and are raised as such plays a large part in creating such complex minds and is, throughout evolution, one of the ways in which we have developed superior cognitive abilities compared to other primates.