Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence refers to people who are very good at using their bodies and engaging their bodies in the learning process.
The concept of bodily-kinesthetic learning comes from Gardner’s multiple intelligences theory. This theory states that there are 8 different types of intelligence, one of which is bodily-kinesthetic intelligence.
These people prefer to engage their senses in the learning process, tend to like active learning, and get gratification out of physical work.
Pros of Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence
1. You’re a Good Active Participant
People with kinesthetic intelligence tend to be very active. They enjoy doing things.
Their minds are engaged when they have to move and use their senses to a greater degree than otherwise.
Reading about how to do something or listening to someone lecture about it can be a very passive experience.
People are less engaged, maybe even bored. However, learning by doing is more meaningful and enjoyable for all.
2. It’s very Practical and Useful
A major benefit of kinesthetic intelligence is that you tend to have practical skills.
There are a lot of advantages to learning how to do something by actually doing it. For example, reading about how to perform CPR or first-aid is not going to help much in a real life-and-death situation.
But, if a person actually participates in a training program where they get to practice on a specially made training manikin, and use a bag valve mask (BVM) or a non-shocking replica of an automated external defibrillator (AED), the learning will be stronger and much more pragmatic.
The trainer can give participants an opportunity to try the procedures for themselves and then offer constructive feedback. This will ensure that people develop the necessary skills to perform when it really counts.
3. It’s Healthy
Kinesthetic activities, which a person with bodily-kinesthetic intelligence tends to enjoy, are good for you.
Bodily movement leads to better health in the long term and lower risk of disease. As a result, people who learn through their bodies and like to work with their bodies are doing two things at once: they’re expressing themselves in a way they value; and they’re staying healthy.
1. You Struggle in Traditional Classrooms
One of the biggest issues with kinesthetic intelligence is that traditional educational practices are not designed to match this type of learning.
Typical pedagogy involves the teacher explaining concepts, writing a lot of words on a board, and then talking some more.
Of course, this teaching technique is necessary in a lot of situations, and there are many students that benefit from this approach because it matches their learning style.
However, there are a lot of other students in the classroom that do not flourish in that kind of environment. They need to move, to touch, and to experience learning. They must be active in order to learn to their fullest potential.
A lot of times those students are males. There has been a growing body of research that clearly demonstrates that females benefit from linguistic-based teaching practices, while males, especially at younger ages, are more responsive to kinesthetic learning techniques (Kommer, 2006).
2. It’s Difficult to Measure
Students are mandated by the government to test students. This is necessary to gauge the effectiveness of school and make sure students are learning what they are supposed to learn.
The problem is that achievement tests and other types of tests, like the SAT or GRE, are all paper-and-pencil measures. This means that the tests themselves require the use of verbal-linguistic skills.
There is no opportunity for students to demonstrate other forms of learning, such as kinesthetic learning. Although this is a very practical issue, it skews tests scores in favor of those linguistically inclined and puts students with other learning styles at a huge disadvantage.
People with bodily-kinesthetic intelligence are blessed with the ability to learn through their senses. They tend to be good at physical tasks and learn best when they’re engaging their body in the learning process.
Good careers for bodily-kinesthetic people might include farming, being a mechanic, and being an actor.
However, there are some downsides of this intelligence. Mainly, you’ll find that you struggle in a quiet learning environment. You may struggle to sit still and read, so you’re often stigmatized as a bad student in the classroom.
Bonomo, V. (2010). Gender matters in elementary education: Research-based strategies to meet the distinctive learning needs of boys and girls. Educational Horizons, 88(4), 257-264.
Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books.
King, K., & Gurian, M. (2006). Teaching to the minds of boys. Educational Leadership, 64(1), 56-58.
Kommer, D. (2006). Boys and girls together: A case for creating gender-friendly middle school classrooms. Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 79(6), 247-251.
Silverman, L. K. (1989). The visual-spatial learner. Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth, 34(1), 15-20. https://doi.org/10.1080/1045988X.1989.9944547
Soderman, A. K., & Phillips, M. (1986). The early education of males: Where are we failing them? Educational Leadership, 44(3), 70-72.
Uttal, D. H., Miller, D. I., & Newcombe, N. S. (2013). Exploring and enhancing spatial thinking: Links to achievement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 22(5), 367-373.
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.