Ideas > Architects of the Intellect > Perkins: Learnable Intelligence

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Successful Intelligence

One of the more palpable views of intelligence is presented by Perkins (1995) when he argues for what he calls "learnable intelligence".

Basically, Perkins poses the idea of a

  • neural intelligence that contributes to efficiency;
  • an experiential intelligence that contributes to efficiency;
  • an experiential intelligence that stores personal experience in diverse situations; and
  • a reflective intelligence that contributes knowledge, understanding, and attitudes about how to use the mind in intelligent behavior.

In brief, Perkins makes the case for "knowing your way around the good use of your brain", just as you know your way around the supermarket, an airport, or an opera. His theory focuses on the metacognitive realms of intelligent behavior.

A look inside a classroom shows the noticeable influence of Perkin's theory of a learnable intelligence. There is a focus on reflection through dialogue, journals, and discussions, with reference to metacognitive "thinking about thinking" activities.

Perkin's assertion that learning is a function of experience shows in the authentic kinds of learning seen in the use of field trips, outdoor education, simulations, virtual field trips and the concept of schools without walls... the whole community as the school.