Halloween and Gifted. Not a natural link? You might be surprised. Those who follow theorist Howard Gardner, a Harvard educator, would not be surprised. Gardner believes that students gravitate towards content that naturally interests them. He thinks that students have one or more dominant intelligences in the areas listed below:
• Musical Intelligence
• Bodily Kinesthetic Intelligence
• Logical Mathematical Intelligence
• Linguistic Intelligence
• Spatial Intelligence
• Interpersonal Intelligence
• Intrapersonal Intelligence
• Existentialist (sometimes included)
So, it’s not surprising that some of these talents would surface in the form of a Halloween costume. My eldest child’s dominant intelligence is linguistic. Her Halloween costumes always had a literary connection, whether she dressed as Pippi Longstocking or donned a nun’s habit and held a cow, as “Holy Cow.” Now she teaches honors high school English.
It was the same with many of my gifted students. One interpersonal learner dressed up as Alexander the Great. A student who was very interested in nature wore a butterfly costume. And a child who had read many of Shakespeare’s plays by third grade, dressed as William Shakespeare. A local television station got wind of his costume and featured him on a morning news program. Currently, he is in high school, but he also writes for a local newspaper.
Some schools have designed programs with Gardner’s intelligences in mind. Some have identified students as gifted when they demonstrate aptitude in any of the multiple intelligences. Many teachers give students multiple intelligence inventories (questionnaires or surveys) to ascertain what content interest their students.
Recognizing that we have different talents—not just aptitudes for reading and math-- is the key point. We are diverse learners with diverse interests. Expose the interpersonal learner who studied Alexander the Great to other world leaders. Give him some leadership training of his own. Expose the linguistic learners to different genres. Have them write and develop portfolios. Expose the naturalist to different ecosystems. Give her a chance to do field research.
Don’t be tricked into thinking your child has just selected an “ordinary” Halloween costume. There may be a message there. As Doug Coupland observed, “if human beings had genuine courage, they’d wear their costumes every day of the year, not just on Halloween.” Be Aware.