Multiple Intelligences Newsletter, Vol 29, No 6

April 2, 2020

Hi MI Friends,

These are strange and scary times. Covid-19 continues to take its toll in actual lives and in the emotional distress and angst that we all share. As in any crisis – fortunately, as in every crisis – some people and roles step forward as heroes, even though they neither sought fame nor are comfortable with our praise. Gratitude and admiration go to everyone working in health care, consciously risking exposure to help others. Likewise, people in other professions also come to mind, e.g., police, who routinely risk their health to protect us.

Teachers and principals also deserve our admiration and thanks. That’s always the case and is even more so in these parlous times. I’ve been talking to principals and teachers, hearing how they are trying to reach their students through Zoom or some other e-tool, how they make weekly phone calls to see how things are going, and how some fashioned auto parades to drive through neighborhoods and wave to their students. Seeing how educators have stepped up to connect and reach their students is inspiring.

But there’s a downside, and that’s where I think MI can help in countering empathy fatigue.

I often remind educators that they need to take care of themselves if they are to tend to others. If we don’t do this, empathy fatigue can occur. Empathy fatigue is a real phenomenon, and it takes a toll on caregivers. If you’re working in education, chances are that your free time is limited, at best. You have your job to do, your family and/or close friends to attend, and then you revisit your job to do more or try to do it better. What’s likely left out of this equation is time for you to relax and enjoy. Yep, this formula leads directly to empathy fatigue.

The counter-forces to empathy fatigue are being engaged by supportive colleagues and friends, having the ability to make a difference and doing so, and attaining some balance in your life. And it’s in pursuing that balance that MI becomes extra relevant today. MI was seized by educators who saw its potential as a way to help children learn. Offering more pathways to skills and knowledge was obvious and logical. It still is. But using MI to help us learn and relax is just as obvious and logical, and maybe now we have the time and space to pursue it. We’re all pretty much alone these days or at least within a small grouping, but we have access to instruments, art supplies, balls and games, books and nature.

So take a moment to revisit your MI Profile. In what intelligences do you flourish, how do you relax, which intelligences nurture you, and in what intelligences do you move to flow, that state in which time and being are subsumed to your focus?

  • If the spatial intelligence is one of your strongest, when is the last time that you painted or sculpted, carved or photographed? Or what about visiting a museum on-line?
  • If the musical intelligence is one of your strongest, when is the last time that you listened to your favorite artists, explored a new genre, played an instrument, composed a song or melody?
  • If the bodily-kinesthetic intelligence is one of your strongest, when is the last time that you worked out until you were out of breath? (You don’t need a stair-step machine if you have steps.) Have you tried juggling? What about walking briskly in a new direction?
  • If the naturalist intelligence is one of your strongest, when is the last time that you worked in a garden or grew house plants? What about going for a walk with the intent of inspecting the environment to see what grows where and how things change over time? If you have a pet in the house, try to observe how it reacts to stimuli and with what habits it is most comfortable.
  • If the linguistic intelligence is one of your strongest, when is the last time that you read something just for fun? If you’re a non-fiction reader, try a novel. (I recommend A Gentleman In Moscow, The Disappearing Earth, and American Dirt). If novels are your thing, venture into non-fiction. (I recommend White Fragility, These Truths, or Mama’s Last Hug.) Or spend some time writing that poem or story that is within you.
  • If the logical-mathematical intelligence is one of your strongest, when is the last time that you solved puzzles, played a logic game, or played chess. There are many on-line ways to do each these. What about creating puzzles for others to solve?
  • If the intrapersonal intelligence is one of your strongest, when is the last time that you reflected on your successes and how you achieved them? How about your challenges and what might be needed to address them? What about developing a six-month plan to shore up a difficulty or to gain expertise in a new skill? How about beginning to write in a diary or begin your memoir?
  • If the interpersonal intelligence is one of your strongest, that may be the biggest challenge in these days, but it’s not insurmountable. When is the last time that you Zoomed with friends (it’s free!), chatted on the phone, or took the time to ask new sorts of questions.

These are simply suggestions, of course, but my hope is that they spur you to spend some energy taking care of yourself. The school year is a marathon not a sprint, so we need to remain strong throughout, and that’s even harder when the ground is shifting below us. How can you find ways to re-energize by investing in your stronger, most riveting intelligences?

Thanks for your interest and support and please take care of yourself.

Thomas R. Hoerr, PhD
Facilitator of the ASCD MI Network
Scholar In Residence at UMSL


This network is sponsored by ASCD as part of their effort to improve the quality of education for all children.

ASCD PICs (Professional Interest Communities) are member-initiated groups designed to unite people around a common area of interest in the field of education. PICs allow participants to exchange ideas, share information, identify and solve problems, grow professionally, and establish collegial relationships.

You can learn about ASCD’s networks, publications, conferences, workshops, and the dialogues sponsored by ASCD at You can also register for the free, daily ASCD SmartBrief.

I’d like to hear from you! Please send me an email at


Would you like to keep up with Tom's latest books, articles and research? Sign up for his newsletter.

* indicates required