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Our World: Our Collection of Minds, by Sabrina Sires

Updated on April 2, 2015

Temple Grandin

In her 2010 TEDtalk, leading autism activist and professor of animal science Dr. Temple Grandin speaks about autism and all the kinds of minds that make up our world--and our need for each and every one of them. “We’ve got to work on developing all these kinds of minds” (Grandin).

Being a visual thinker, Grandin sees images instead of words in her head, “like google for pictures.” She spent most of her life with the mistaken understanding that all people saw pictures in their heads--thought things through in pictures instead of words--as she did. When interviewing people for her book, Thinking in Pictures, she discovered that her way of thinking was in fact more unique. If she asked people to think of a steeple, they would conjure images in their mind of a general steeple, vague and unspecific. By contrast, visual thinkers like Grandin are asked to think of a church steeple, they would have an image of a very specific, detailed place. For example her church steeple, in Fort Collins, Colorado.

“Another kind of mind is the pattern thinker,” Grandin says. These are the young minds that will grow to be some of our most influential persons in the workforce. They will create our new computer programs and design and buildings, our bridges. Along with the visual thinkers, and the pattern thinkers, she points out the math and musically inclined individuals - the abstract minds - on the spectrum.

After watching Grandin’s video numerous times, I began to have some very new and interesting thoughts. I began to contemplate my own mind, my own intelligence, how it was developed. I began to wonder how had I grown up my entire life, gone all the way through school and not had a single teacher speak about this. Never once did anyone talk about the different kinds of minds we all have. I began to question whether my education has helped or hindered my intelligence.

In his wildly popular 2006 TEDtalk, “Do Schools Kill Creativity?”, Sir Ken Robinson speaks distressingly about our current education system, and our need to nurture rather than stigmatize creativity. He points out that “our current educational system came into being around the 19th century to meet the needs of industrialism and is predicated on the idea of academic ability." However, the ability that it is predicated upon emphasizes the types of intelligence that our system deems important, with the most creative subjects being the least valued. In this type of system, our music and math minds and our visual thinkers are all having their greatest strength at the very least under-utilized, and too often completely wasted.

After spending some time watching these TEDtalks and contemplating my own type of mind, and what role my education has played in the development and potential of my mind, I set out to do some homework. I wanted to know how far back this idea of “multiple kinds of minds” went. As it turns out there was much more to this story.

Dr. Howard Gardner pioneered a theory that changed the whole idea of what was considered to be intelligence. He introduced the theory of Multiple Intelligences in 1983, based on recent findings in neuropsychology. His theory states that there are at least eight other “types of minds” (Snopek).

My Results

Language: You enjoy saying, hearing, and seeing words. You like telling stories. You are motivated by books, records, dramas, opportunities for writing. Effective techniques of enhancing your learning using your language intelligence include reading aloud, especially plays and poetry. Another idea is to write down reflections on what you've read. You may also enjoy exploring and developing your love of words, i.e., meanings of words, origin of words and idioms, names. Use different kinds of dictionaries.

On this scale, where did my mind fall? In our ever-demanding, consumerized world, instant answers are easier and easier to find. In just a couple clicks I had found a website that had an assessment to determine which of the eight intelligence categories you fit best.

Reading this result, I was immediately intrigued, as I determined this to be a very apt description. I love words, especially unique ones (like “unique” and “exquisite”). I enjoy etymology of words, their history and the study of other language. Discovering this information, I wondered what other people’s results would be. I decided to create a survey, and utilize my Facebook friends to satisfy my curiosity and dig a little deeper into this project. Viewing the chart below, it is obvious that everyone is not in the same category. I noticed right off, that only five people, or 10% counted themselves as Verbal/Linguistic as I had. The second thing I noticed that the largest group, 21 people, found themselves to be Interpersonal, or People Smart, and the second largest group of ten, considered themselves to be Intrapersonal, or Self Smart.

Learning Categories of 50 People

Answer Choices
Number Of People
Interpersonal - People Smart
Interpersonal - Self Smart
Visual Spacial

A box has four corners, and four angles and it is always going to be just a box. If you walked the perimeter it is never going to change. It will stay a solid path, turn a corner….and on and on. Our current education system seems to function in the same manner. It has the same rigid structure that is continuous and unchanging. To my mind this kind of system does not match with all the different ways our minds work. What if we had an education system that was shaped so that it could bend this way and that and meet the needs of all types of minds? What if we focused specifically on the type of intelligence, or creative aptitude, a child had from an early age and helped them hone those skills and intelligences and utilize their creativity to solve problems, and create amazing things?

Looking back at my experiences in school I find that this box type education seemed to suit me well at the time. I was highly organized, and memorized facts and information with ease. I loved subjects that made me think deeply about things completely outside my knowledge; for example, my favorite subjects were foreign language and history. I was not generally good in art, or other creative tasks, and I have constantly struggled with writing. Since I spoke well, and maintained a high grade point average in all of the subjects that mattered, it seemed unimportant that there was a whole other side of me not being taught. A whole other side to me that was being left undiscovered.

Robinson says, “We think about the world in all of the ways that we experience it. We think visually--we think in sound, we think kinesthetically. We think in abstract terms, we think in movement." If this is a true observation, then I wonder earnestly what have I lost in the whole of my education, some twelve years or so, because that other side of myself was not being acknowledged? What skills have been forsaken because of this act of abandonment on the part of my educators?

Did you Take the Quiz Above? Share Your Results!

What Type of Mind Are You?

See results

As I begin my third attempt at freshman year in college at age thirty-one, I reflect on my experiences in school as a child. I recall the days of high school. I had always felt at home in school and always seemed to excel. However, the more I thought back, the deeper I dug. I began to recall other things, things I began and was not good at, things I didn’t make much of an attempt at beyond requirement. I had never pursued art because the only art I was ever exposed to was painting on a canvas, and I can draw no more than a stick figure. I sometimes struggled with writing, and yet I received no assistance. I recall an instance when I was in the fourth grade, I could not do long division. Outside of that fact, I was an exemplary student, and read at a higher reading level than most of my class. However, because I struggled in math and could not do long division, both my teacher and my parents decided the best course of action was to hold me back an entire grade. As I reflect on this story, I am saddened at the short-sightedness of this decision. In order for me to have moved forward to the fifth grade, I would not have been able to grasp that class at all, and they wouldn’t have extra time to assist me due to the many other students in that class. Instead of seeking some more reasonable or creative solution, they made the choice that benefited the ‘box type’ of education system we have.

With all of the research being done in education and in how the human mind works, I think that there is an obligation to make changes to our system based on the evidence this research provides. We have critical, ongoing issues that will need to be addressed by an educated populace. The way we do this I believe is by heeding the advice of Grandin, that we need to focus our time on reaching all of the kinds of minds that make up our world. We do this by taking action on the words of Robinson and nurturing the creativity in our children. He points out a critical observation: “According to UNESCO, in the next 30 years, more people worldwide will be graduating through education than since the beginning of history….We have no idea what’s going to happen, in terms of the future.” This is the time for us to pay attention more than ever to the needs of our ever changing world, and its ever changing and unique minds.

About the Author

Whatcom Community College student, Sabrina Sires, wrote this analytical essay for English 101, Winter 2015

Work Cited

Grandin, Temple. "The World Needs All Kinds of Minds." TED: Ideas Worth Spreading. February 2010. Web. February 17, 2015.

NEA Research. "Rankings of the States 2013 and Estimates of School Statistics 2014. March 12, 2014. Web. February 17, 2015. <>

Robinson, Sir Ken. "Do Schools Kill Creativity?" TED: Ideas Worth Spreading. June 2006. Web. February 17, 2015.

Snopek, Roxanne. "Many Kinds of Minds: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences." Duke Tip. June 16, 2006. Web. February 17, 2015.


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