Sternberg’s educational theories aim to bring out the best in all students by catering for different forms of intelligence and thinking styles. They have evolved throughreflection on his own problems.
Why did the IQ test classify him as stupid? Because it tested only a certain kind of intelligence – the ability to memorise and analyse. Why did he obtain poor gradesin his undergraduate course? Because his essays were too ‘creative’ – he posed new questions that defied the marking scheme.
Sternberg asked himself why many people with the practical ability to doa job such as his – to teach, research and administrate – were rejected because of an inability to memorise facts. He concluded that the American education system was failing many talented studentsbecause it was unable to recognise or nurture their creative and practical abilities.
In response he formulated his ‘triarchic’ theory of intelligence and its practical application, ‘successfulintelligence’ – ‘the ability to achieve success in life, given one’s personal standards within one’s personal sociocultural context’.
Sternberg's triarchtic theory
•Traditional notion of intelligence
• Abstract thinking and logical reasoning
• Verbal and mathematical skills
Experiential / creative intelligence
• Divergentthinking (generating new ideas)
• Ability to deal with novel situations
Contextual / practical intelligence
• 'Street smarts'
• Ability to apply knowledge to the real world
• Abilityto shape one's environment; choose an environment
Sternberg’s view is compatible with Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences but differs in being process rather than content-oriented. Sternbergalso emphasies that the three intelligences are at their best when all are employed together.
He also identifies a number of thinking styles. Everyone has a mix of such styles, but will vary in the...