Sept. 15, 2023
Frits Schoeren Reflects on MI in the Netherlands
Dr. Howard Gardner’s theory was known to me in the 1990s. I applied the basic principles of MI in my work as a music psychotherapist in a large housing institution for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. In addition, I supervised Intervision meetings with group leaders and in the evenings I gave lectures at the Institute of Social and Business Sciences. The insights from Multiple Intelligences were given a special place in the guidance of future managers. Here I also met my colleagues from the School of Creative Thinking (the former COCD – Center for Development of Creative Thinking in Antwerp, Belgium). In 2000 I became president of this organization. At the time, we regularly organized meetings focusing on the application of creative thinking methods, working, thinking about and solving issues. The connection between Multiple Intelligences and the application of Creative Thinking in organizations was reawakened during these meetings.
In my daily work as a therapist/coach and trainer, I discovered the possibilities to introduce MI more widely in organizations in the Netherlands, Germany, Hungary and Belgium. My goal was to make MI applicable for the personal development of adults in organizations. Most of the questionnaires/tests used in recruitment/selection, performance and appraisal interviews emphasized employees’ shortcomings or their unacquired knowledge or insufficient skills.
In my mindset, you should talk to employees about their talents (their preferred activities) and help translate them into opportunities to apply in their daily work and life. Although the theory of Multiple Intelligences sometimes had to be stripped of ‘beliefs about alleged non-validity’ (especially from the scientific side), the positive attention to the benefits and the practical application made me decide to give MI as a methodology a permanent place in my way of working in my own consultancy company, Process Coaching.
In 2014 I was asked to help establish an organization that supports people who wish to implement MI. We figured there should be a place in the Netherlands where people could ask questions about MI and its research and applications. A place where one could get answers and obtain MI-related articles. We wanted an institute where people can learn how to apply MI in education and coaching. This idea evolved into an actual foundation—The Association for Multiple Intelligences (aMI) — registered with the civil-law notary.
During the past few years, many volunteers and colleagues have worked on the implementation of our ambitious plans. One of the most important projects was setting up The MIDAS Certification program led by Helga Hohn, Mat Custers and myself. The Multiple Intelligences Developmental Assessment Scales (MIDAS: www.MIResearch.org), created by Branton Shearer, were brought to the Netherlands via a Dutch translation by Haiko Jessurun. The MIDAS assessment provides a detailed profile of the respondent’s strengths and limitations in the eight intelligences along with 24+ descriptive subscales. The goals of aMI are to provide MI Profiles to educators and coaches along with training of professionals for the proper use of The MIDAS.
A Code of Ethics was developed for MIDAS administrators. A MIDAS Coach version was prepared along with a new version of the Online MIDAS System with the help of Haiko Jessurun. Part II was added to the validation report (Part I). Part II was a logical answer to questions asked during the MIDAS validation interviews: how can I apply the theory of MI in my daily life or work practice? Do you have tips, suggestions or recommendations? Attuned to the individual report, additional suggestions and tips for further application were provided.
The MIDAS Certification House concept was conceived as a basis for development and training of interested parties who want to use MI and MIDAS as a personal development tool for the next generations. As Branton Shearer puts it so beautifully in his validation reports, MIDAS is the ‘Royal road to Learning, Achievement and personal Development’.
The basis of the certification house and the road to it, was filled in with MI workshops, webinars, introductions and lectures. The next steps were the MIDAS Foundation training courses: for application for adults (Coaching) and for children (Education). The Practioner (application in groups) and Mentor (training for Foundation Trainer and Practitioner Trainer) and the Master-Mentor (guidance of Mentors).
All efforts have led to the final result of MIDAS® Certification and Training Requirements elaborated for each module in both Dutch and English. This means that these requirements are available in two languages if, for example, the MIDAS Certification is offered in two languages.
In recent years, many schools, companies and non-profit organizations have found their way to the aMI Foundation. Teachers, psychologists, dyslexia experts, trainers, coaches, managers and HRMs followed the MIDAS Certification Foundation (Education of Coach) and use MI (and MIDAS) in their daily work to contribute to the learning and personal development of children and adults.
Hundreds of coach conversations followed over the years. I received one of the nicest compliments from a young employee of a company. She was very apprehensive about completing the questionnaire. She had already called me beforehand to ask what information or books she could go through to prepare for the ‘test’. When I told her it wasn’t a test (in the sense of meeting/failing predetermined requirements), that no preparation was needed, and that choosing a peaceful moment and an environment where she wouldn’t be disturbed was enough preparation, she was somewhat surprised. How could this lead to a serious rash?
Frits Schoeren MA, has been chairman of the aMI Foundation (association Multiple Intelligences) (in Dutch: Stichting aMI) since 2016. In his former work as a coach, psychotherapist / music therapist, the theory of Multiple Intelligences has had an important influence in the implementation of his therapies, coaching, training and lectures. He is co-author of the books ‘Rowing with your ears’ (practical examples of MI (and MIDAS) in coaching and guidance situations) and ‘Eight times smarter’ (description with many application examples of the added value of personal talents). Together with some AMI colleagues, he is now working on the next book that deals with the motives of volunteers in project organizations with a special focus on their ‘Hidden and forgotten talents’.