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Every Wednesday, I’ll post about multiple intelligences so we can better understand children and why they do what they do.

When I speak about multiple intelligences, there’s probably more laughter during the picture-smart part of my presentation than during any other part.

I usually tell my audience about a book by Bernard Most called My Very Own Octopus. As soon as I say the word “octopus” those who have picture-smart strengths see it. They don’t have to be told to see it. They don’t have to work to see it. They just see it. That’s how the picture-smart mind works.

Because of my logic-smart strengths, I immediately think of questions to ask. Word-smart people immediately start talking – in their head to themselves, if not out loud. Everyone thinks all the time – in the ways they’re designed to think.

In the book, My Very Own Octopus, a little boy dreams of taking an octopus home and playing baseball with it. As I ask who is watching the game, many raise their hands and laugh. They describe an octopus at bat with many bats and in the field with many gloves. One woman laughed easily while describing the octopus “running” to first base. She clearly saw it in her mind.

They describe the octopus being purple, orange, striped, and polka dotted. More in the audience begin seeing an octopus, too. Laughter builds.

This may be why they get answers wrong on their science quiz. They may picture the octopus they invented rather than the one they were supposed to learn about.

As a logic-smart person, I want to know what they really look like (they can change colors to avoid predators), whether those appendages are arms or called something else (they’re called arms), whether they’re classified as fish or something else (they’re invertebrates – any animal other than a fish, amphibian, reptile, bird, or mammal), and other unusual facts (their blood is blue and they have three hearts).

Because of the way I think, I may do better on a teacher’s science quiz, but it’s only because I’m smart differently. Not smarter. Oh, how I wish every parent, teacher, and child understood this! Believed it! Told others about it!

Don’t misunderstand me. Children with picture-smart strengths can do very well in science, partly because they will see what they’re learning about. They just have to have the motivation and self-control to put their fun, imaginative pictures out of their mind when necessary.

By the way, picture-smart children will often enjoy literature and creative writing more than I will because they’re smart differently. Not smarter.

Who can you encourage with this perspective? Pass it on!