I always like Gardner as guidelines. The educational psychology and child rehabilitation (autism, etc) texts that treat them as solid categories are doing somewhat of a disservice, but as a guideline it’s not bad:
If someone seems more musically inclined, gear up your teaching a little more towards musical.
If someone seems more introspective, make good use of that.
So as pragmatic advice, it’s not bad. It’s like the personality typing with the INFP and stuff. It’s pragmatic – serves a purpose – but is it hard/fast biological categories that are fixed? Probably not. Even the “g” factor in intelligence is something I question. [I’m not digging up papers on that ’cause I didn’t have enough coffee yet]. But as a guideline, it’s not bad.
I’ve always had a problem with categories. Probably some mental block. I utilize them but I don’t depend on them. My brain is stuck in “lateral” mode. People have called me “abstract”. I dunno – I just know that I have trouble “resting” on categories as absolute and trusting them entirely.
To me categories aren’t like juggling balls – it’s more like juggling piles of sand, sugar and salt. If you get a decent category, it could be a wet ball of flour and sticks together ok but it’ll still be sticky and get all over the place.
With Gardner, if I remember right, I ended up as very Introspective and Musical as major themes I think. While I seem to be good with words, my “linguistic” part comes out of my musical part, rather than linguistic-for-linguistic sake.
Your nit is the log in my eye. I love ontology, charts of organizing information. It’s like poetry to me. In fact, it *is* poetry to me, seeing concepts flowing from one to another in logical form.
Yet, do I believe they have a tangible existence? Not really. They’re more like a beautiful song where everything seems to fit and yet, you can collapse the chords into single notes, expand a single note into a chord, go from major to minor, encapsulating the theme but with improvisation, sounding almost entirely different.
For example, I love the Dewey Decimal system. It’s a beautifully flawed system that I mastered long ago. I can go into a library and go STRAIGHT to what I want without even thinking of the numbers, open up a book and find what I’m interested in. I’ve spent a lot of time in libraries through the years: Once you know the system, it’s beautiful.
Yet, it’s not the best ontology for human knowledge by far . There’s better ones out there. But because it’s the “song I know well”, I enjoy going into it frequently, even if some instruments are playing in the wrong part of the orchestra.
[we have like 7 or 8 libraries in town and once or twice a week, I make it a point to hit one of them and spent an hour or so there. I never know what I’m going to want to look at: I just dive in, start walking towards the stacks. Pick a book that catches the corner of my eye as I scan the titles sideways while approaching, pluck it out, go to the index or open it up to the page it falls to (‘because multiple readers crack open the spines in areas they found interesting), and I always read something worthwhile.
Whatever pattern asserts itself through the randomness is what becomes my focus. I don’t plan it. Never could plan, except “What’s going to inspire me right now? Something will.”