Author: Sara Blackstock
It would appear that one of our main responsibilities as adults – teachers, parents and friends of children – is to help guide, stimulate, and challenge them to find and actualize their “God-given” abilities. Actually “God-given” is not an accurate term, for we read that the Gods do not arbitrarily give this gift of special ability. Wherefore are the sources of “special human ability”?
“There are three possible sources of special human ability. At the bottom always there exists the natural or inherent aptitude. Special ability is never an arbitrary gift of the Gods; there is always an ancestral foundation for every outstanding talent.” (508/44:8.2)
The Urantia Book makes a distinction between ‘ability’ and ‘skill’: From the dictionary ability is: “the power to do something. skill, expertise, talent, capacity or tendency.” From The Urantia Book:
“Ability is that which you inherit, while skill is what you acquire. ….. Skill is one of the real sources of the satisfaction of living. Ability implies the gift of foresight, farseeing vision.” (1779/160:4.5)
How do we identify the abilities that our children may inherit? We have a long way to go in our understanding of this area, and no doubt there are many ways of looking at it, but let’s look at a system which is being recognized within some of the more advanced educational systems – that of researcher Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences. Gardner has identified nine intelligences or ways/styles of learning. We all have all of them, but there are usually one or two that are dominant. And some children show outstanding, i.e. “special ability” in certain of these.
1) Linguistic and Verbal: strength in the language arts such as talking, listening, writing and reading. Children who are expert with words can often not only be quite successful in school, but they can manipulate their parents with skillful negotiations. Poets and playwrights, TV and radio personalities show high ability in this intelligence. Children high in this intelligence/ability learn easily from books, enjoy jokes, puns, riddles, and tongue twisters, live with their nose in a book and might enjoy word games.
2) Logical and Mathematical: strong ability with numbers, problem solving, and logical reasoning such as required in the sciences. Children who have this ability as a strength might like to collect and sort things, can figure out many math problems in their heads, are good at estimating mathematical answers and want to know why they need to do something. Logical answers appeal to them and they might want to have pros and cons listed when they are asked to do something by their parents or teachers.
3) Spatial and Visual: is the ability to form a mental model of a spatial world and to be able to maneuver and operate using that model. Sailors, engineers, surgeons, sculptors, and painters, to name just a few examples, all have highly develoed spatial intelligence.”
4) “Musical intelligence is the fourth category of ability we have identified: Leonard Bernstein had lots of it; Mozart presumably, had even more.”
5) “Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence is the ability to solve problems or to fashion products using one’s whole body, or parts of the body. Dancers, athletes, surgeons, craftspeople all exhibit highly developed bodily-kinesthetic intelligence.”
6) “Interpersonal intelligence is the ability to understand other people: what motivates them, how they work, how to work cooperatively with them. Successful salespeople, politicians, teachers, clinicians, and religious leaders are all likely to be individual with high degrees of interpersonal intelligence.”
7) “Intrapersonal intelligence, a seventh kind of intelligence, is a correlative ability, turned inward. It is a capacity to form an accurate, veridical model of oneself and to be able to use that model to operate effectively in life.”
Note: Howard Gardner and associates have now postulated an 8th intelligence – Nature Intelligence – which has to do with an ability to be aware of nature and to interact with plants, animals, and geological aspects.
What kinds of abilities are mentioned? Specifically mentioned are those of leadership:
“Leadership is dependent on natural ability, discretion, will power, and determination.” (1739/156:5.7)
We are even told that there may be “… help to the naturally gifted individuals of the mortal races.” This is provided by the seraphic hosts co-operating with the celestial artisans who “… do not personally work on material planets, such as Urantia, they do come, from time to time, from the headquarters of the system to profer help to the naturally gifted individuals of the mortal races.” These beings together “… assist those mortal artists who possess inherent endowments….”
What do these sayings have to do with our responsibilities towards children? What does our research and culture say about innate abilities?
What is it that the spirit artisans do? They may “…. act as harmonizers of these talents and otherwise to assist and inspire these mortals to seek for ever-perfecting ideals and to attempt their enhanced portrayal for the edification of the realm.” (508/44:8.1,2)
“Ability is the practical measure of life’s opportunities. You will never be held responsible for the accomplishment of that which is beyond your abilities.” (1877/171:8)