Sunday, August 21, 2011

Multiple intelligences in Tamland

This is essentially a Tam post. Before the Englishmen had their industrial revolution and passed on some skills to the Indians who in turn made gadgets which robbed the Tams of their prized skills. Yes, Tam land was a glorious land - a land where supermaamas and supermaamis walked the earth.

But hell, this is a learning blog, what is all this Tam culture doing here? I am trying to imagine if Howard Gardner had to map the skills of Tam to his theory of multiple intelligences, what would have happened? What were the skills expected of an average maama or maami in the 19th century? or early 20th century?

Let us try. Take a typical Tam day that begins at 5 am. (Mind you, 530 IS LATE - wake up you stupid fool and find a kick landing on your backside.) I dont know if waking up in the morning is a skill - but before it becomes a habit, it has to be practiced. In a Tam household it is not very difficult considering that even the insects in the house follow the time to a T. And besides at 445 itself stray elders would have started pottering around for their cup of coffee and the accompanying noise would even shake up polar bears out of hibernation.

Cooker whistles go off around 525. Doing what only god knows - even cookers would not be ready for this sort of stress testing. Damn - there were no cookers in the 19th century. No. This is not getting anywhere. Lets try again.

Let us look at all the skills that are expected of a Tam - man or woman and you will see that the demands were quite a bit - from an intelligence standpoint.

Ok. Let us just go step by step. Early morning bath - no intelligence, but surely needs a lot of willpower. Milking the cow - one needs something called empathy - how to empathise with animals perhaps. Wow - I think I have discovered an intelligence already.

Second, putting a kolam on the floor for ordinary occasions - or putting bigger ones for bigger occasions - solid combination of spatial and artistic intelligence. Wow. Is that another one? 

Ever tried to make a kai murukku - it needs a combination of spatial and kinesthetic intelligence. It is almost a work of art. I still cannot make one (and I am no standard - since I cannot even get a round chapati right), but amma can make one effortlessly.

And then grinding on two types of stones - one, the larger one for bigger quantities and the smaller one for obviously, smaller quantities. This is another damn skill - quite difficult to acquire and physically quite demanding as well. No wonder, maamis never went to gym and were in ship shape. What intelligence? Well, I dont know - just practice I guess. Is cooking an intelligence? I dont know. Thats too much of discovery for one post - will leave it at that.

For catching up and keeping with all the neighbourhood gossip, one needs both intrapersonal and interpersonal intelligence. And without language-verbal skills, can you beat the maamis in debate - no chance. No doubts on that front.

Most maamis were expected to know singing at the very least. Most maamas were expected to know raaga, taala and atleast a musical instrument apart from numerous shlokas and mantras. Surely, musical and existential intelligence was required.

Maths and logical skill were not prized for Tams  - I suppose - but many people have it. Especially when it comes to comparing kitchen vessels and looking at jewellery from a distance and estimating the weight and subsequent value marked to market. I suspect having these skills made maamis supermaamis and gave their progeny 180 plus IQ.

What else? More later, as I develop my own intelligence...

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