Writing and Multiple Intelligences
," A Working Paper
School of Journalism, Media & Graphic Arts
Florida A&M University, Tallahassee FL 32307 USA
Available at: http://www.longleaf.net/ggrow
The Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence
The core elements of the bodily-kinesthetic intelligence are control of one's bodily motions and
capacity to handle objects skillfully (206). Gardner elaborates to say that this intelligence also
includes a sense of timing, a clear sense of the goal of a physical action, along with the ability to
train responses so they become like reflexes. Along with these, you often find a high degree of
fine-motor control and a gift for using whole body motions.
These abilities may not seem very impressive, at first glance. Bodily intelligence is not widely
appreciated in our culture. Calling it an "intelligence" is almost startling, though less so after
Gardner has called upon Marcel Marceau, athletes, actors, inventors, and dancers to make his
case for a bodily intelligence.
Gardner cites a dancer's conviction that we all have the capacity "to apprehend directly" the
actions, feelings, or dynamic abilities of other people, without help from words or pictures (228).
Dancers and actors draw on this ability; so do architects, who speak of "feeling in their bodies"
the mass and proportion of a building. Surely this ability is at work when I waltz out of an early
Charlie Chaplin movie, feeling as though my whole being has been taught to dance.
What light does it cast on writing if you assume--with Gardner--that people function with a
bodily intelligence of equal status to the linguistic and logical intelligences? Consider how many
kinesthetic expressions apply to the experience of reading. We speak, for example, of being
"touched," "taken," "gripped," "led," "held." We "grapple" with difficult subjects, and have "gut
wrenching" experiences. Our stomachs turn. Our hearts leap. Our breathing quickens. We may
tremble, sigh, and be "moved." These responses are rooted in kinesthetic experience. Jacobson