Encounters with Existential Intelligence: Possibilities for Today's Effective Educator

Roberts, Matthew
November 2010
International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences;2010, Vol. 5 Issue 7, p241
Academic Journal
Howard Gardner's multiple intelligences theory (MI) offers a remedy of wholeness for the traditionally narrow view of general intelligence. Existential intelligence, Gardner's proposed 9th intelligence, potentially adds another critical vantage point of wholeness to the MI canon. Yet Gardner's own narrow definition of existential intelligence has restricted its development for more than a decade. This paper attempts to broaden the definition of existential intelligence by presenting its unique problem solving ability as an invaluable orientation for educators. Specifically, existential intelligence is presented as a vehicle to shore up pedagogy in educational environments that overly fixate on performance- based outcomes or those that ignore the role of educator's calling and purpose. Existential intelligence allows teachers to function within a sphere of questions, creativity, imagination, and journeying. It allows for possibilities instead of prescriptions, informing an education of "essence" and "being" instead of merely "doing" (Greene, 1967, 1995). This paper outlines, through a series of vignettes, the potential gains of encountering existential intelligence in pedagogy and urges further discovery and dialogue regarding this elusive intelligence. Unlike the conscious subscription to existentialist philosophy, the author submits a standing knowledge of existential intelligence is helpful, but is not necessary in order for teachers to function under its offerings.


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