I want my children to understand the world, but not just because the multiple Intelligence… is fascinating and the human mind is curious. I want them to understand it so that they will be positioned to make it a better place. Knowledge is not the same as morality, but we need to understand if we are to avoid past mistakes and move in productive directions. Ultimately, we must synthesize our understandings for ourselves.
The scale of Howard Gardner’s contribution can be gauged from following comments in his introduction to the tenth anniversary edition of his classic work Frames of Mind. One of the main impetuses for this movement has been Howard Gardner’s work. Howard Gardner has questioned the idea that intelligence is a single entity, that it results from a single factor, and that it can be measured simply via IQ tests. He has also challenged the cognitive development work of Piaget. In this article we explore Howard Gardner’s contribution and the use to which it has been put by educators.
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Howard Gardner was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania in 1943. His parents had fled from Nürnberg in Germany in 1938 with their three-year old son, Eric. Just prior to Howard Gardner’s birth Eric was killed in a sleighing accident. From there he went to Harvard University to study history in readiness for a career in the law. However, he was lucky enough to have Eric Erikson as a tutor.
My mind was really opened when I went to Harvard College and had the opportunity to study under individuals—such as psychoanalyst Erik Erikson, sociologist David Riesman, and cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner—who were creating knowledge about human beings. That helped set me on the course of investigating human nature, particularly how human beings think. During this time he began to read the work of Claude Levi-Strauss and Jean Piaget in more detail. Project Zero provided an environment in which Howard Gardner could begin to explore his interest in human cognition.
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He proceeded in a very different direction to the dominant discourses associated with Piaget and with psychometric testing. The existence of idiots savants, prodigies and other exceptional individuals. An identifiable core operation or set of operations. An evolutionary history and evolutionary plausibility. Susceptibility to encoding in a symbol system. Howard Gardner initially formulated a list of seven intelligences.
Linguistic intelligence involves sensitivity to spoken and written language, the ability to learn languages, and the capacity to use language to accomplish certain goals. Writers, poets, lawyers and speakers are among those that Howard Gardner sees as having high linguistic intelligence. Logical-mathematical intelligence consists of the capacity to analyze problems logically, carry out mathematical operations, and investigate issues scientifically. In Howard Gardner’s words, it entails the ability to detect patterns, reason deductively and think logically. This intelligence is most often associated with scientific and mathematical thinking.
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Musical intelligence involves skill in the performance, composition, and appreciation of musical patterns. It encompasses the capacity to recognize and compose musical pitches, tones, and rhythms. According to Howard Gardner musical intelligence runs in an almost structural parallel to linguistic intelligence. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence entails the potential of using one’s whole body or parts of the body to solve problems. It is the ability to use mental abilities to coordinate bodily movements. Howard Gardner sees mental and physical activity as related.
Spatial intelligence involves the potential to recognize and use the patterns of wide space and more confined areas. Interpersonal intelligence is concerned with the capacity to understand the intentions, motivations and desires of other people. It allows people to work effectively with others. Educators, salespeople, religious and political leaders and counsellors all need a well-developed interpersonal intelligence. Intrapersonal intelligence entails the capacity to understand oneself, to appreciate one’s feelings, fears and motivations. In Howard Gardner’s view it involves having an effective working model of ourselves, and to be able to use such information to regulate our lives. Because of their close association in most cultures, they are often linked together.
However, he still argues that it makes sense to think of two forms of personal intelligence. Gardner claimed that the seven intelligences rarely operate independently. They are used at the same time and tend to complement each other as people develop skills or solve problems. In essence Howard Gardner argued that he was making two essential claims about multiple intelligences. The theory is an account of human cognition in its fullness.
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Human beings are organisms who possess a basic set of intelligences. People have a unique blend of intelligences. The appeal of multiple intelligences to educators Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences has not been readily accepted within academic psychology. However, it has met with a strongly positive response from many educators. It has been embraced by a range of educational theorists and, significantly, applied by teachers and policymakers to the problems of schooling. This appeal was not, at first, obvious.
At first blush, this diagnosis would appear to sound a death knell for formal education. Seven kinds of intelligence would allow seven ways to teach, rather than one. Paradoxically, constraints can be suggestive and ultimately freeing. Project Zero, has identified a number of reasons why teachers and policymakers in North America have responded positively to Howard Gardner’s presentation of multiple intelligences. It also provides educators with a conceptual framework for organizing and reflecting on curriculum assessment and pedagogical practices.
In turn, this reflection has led many educators to develop new approaches that might better meet the needs of the range of learners in their classrooms. All seven intelligences are needed to live life well. Teachers, therefore, need to attend to all intelligences, not just the first two that have been their tradition concern. Understanding entails taking knowledge gained in one setting and using it in another. While there are considerable benefits to developing understanding in relation to the disciplines, something more is needed.
Subsequent research and reflection by Howard Gardner and his colleagues has looked to three particular possibilities: a naturalist intelligence, a spiritual intelligence and an existential intelligence. Naturalist intelligence enables human beings to recognize, categorize and draw upon certain features of the environment. In doing so, I think it best to put aside the term spiritual, with its manifest and problematic connotations, and to speak instead of an intelligence that explores the nature of existence in its multifarious guises. Howard Gardner is not disposed to add it to the list. He suggests that it is difficult to come to any consensual definition, but argues that it is possible to come to an understanding that takes exploration forward. There are various criticisms of, and problems around, Howard Gardner’s conceptualization of multiple intelligences.
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Here, I want to focus on three key questions that have been raised in debates. Are the criteria Howard Gardner employs adequate? Does Howard Gardner’s conceptualization of intelligence hold together? Howard Gardner’s work will always be problematic. They can still point to a substantial tradition of research that demonstrates correlation between different abilities and argue for the existence of a general intelligence factor. Is there sufficient empirical evidence to support Howard Gardner’s conceptualization?
A common criticism made of Howard Gardner’s work is that his theories derive rather more strongly from his own intuitions and reasoning than from a comprehensive and full grounding in empirical research. For the moment there is not a properly worked-through set of tests to identify and measure the different intelligences. I now believe that this can only be accomplished if someone developed several measures for each intelligence and then made sure that people were comfortable in dealing with the materials and methods used to measure each intelligence. Conclusion While there may be some significant questions and issues around Howard Gardner’s notion of multiple intelligences, it still has had utility in education. It has helped a significant number of educators to question their work and to encourage them to look beyond the narrow confines of the dominant discourses of skilling, curriculum, and testing.
They have identified the following markers that characterize schools with some success in implementing practices that attend to multiple intelligences theory. Culture: support for diverse learners and hard work. Acting on a value system which maintains that diverse students can learn and succeed, that learning is exciting, and that hard work by teachers is necessary. Building staff awareness of MI and of the different ways that students learn. Tool: MI is a means to foster high quality work.
Using MI as a tool to promote high quality student work rather than using the theory as an end in and of itself. Sharing ideas and constructive suggestions by the staff in formal and informal exchanges. Choice: meaningful curriculum and assessment options. Embedding curriculum and assessment in activities that are valued both by students and the wider culture.
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Employing the arts to develop children’s skills and understanding within and across disciplines. Informal educators can usefully look at this listing in respect of their projects and agencies. The multiple intelligences themselves also provide a good focus for reflection. Arguably, informal educators have traditionally been concerned with the domains of the interpersonal and the intrapersonal, with a sprinkling of the intelligences that Howard Gardner identifies with the arts. Frames of Mind: The theory of multiple intelligences, New York: Basic Books. The second edition was published in Britain by Fontana Press.
A major addition to the literature of cognitive psychology being the first full length explication of multiple intelligences. To Open Minds: Chinese clues to the dilemma of contemporary education, New York: Basic Books. This book includes a significant amount of material on Gardner’s early life. The Unschooled Mind: How children think and how schools should teach, New York: Basic Books. Multiple intelligences for the 21st century, New York: Basic Books. Useful review of Gardner’s theory and discussion of issues and additions. The Process of Education, Cambridge, Mass.
The Shattered Mind, New York: Knopf. The art and science of changing our own and other people’s minds. Good Work: Where Excellence and Ethics Meet, New York: Basic Books. Multiple intelligences go to school: Educational implications of the theory of multiple intelligences.
Finding cognition in the classroom: an expanded view of human intelligence’ in G. Psychological and educational considerations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. From Piaget to the present, London: Routledge. A narrative of people and ideas 2e, New York: St Martin’s Press. Beyond IQ: A triarchic theory of human intelligence.
Do Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences add up? London: Institute of Education, University of London. It is part of the Aspen Institute’s photostream at Flickr. To cite this article: Smith, Mark K. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. Howard Gardner of Harvard has identified seven distinct intelligences. Gardner says that these differences “challenge an educational system that assumes that everyone can learn the same materials in the same way and that a uniform, universal measure suffices to test student learning.
Indeed, as currently constituted, our educational system is heavily biased toward linguistic modes of instruction and assessment and, to a somewhat lesser degree, toward logical-quantitative modes as well. Visual-Spatial – think in terms of physical space, as do architects and sailors. They like to draw, do jigsaw puzzles, read maps, daydream. They can be taught through drawings, verbal and physical imagery.
Bodily-kinesthetic – use the body effectively, like a dancer or a surgeon. They like movement, making things, touching. They communicate well through body language and be taught through physical activity, hands-on learning, acting out, role playing. Tools include equipment and real objects. Musical – show sensitivity to rhythm and sound.
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They love music, but they are also sensitive to sounds in their environments. They may study better with music in the background. They can be taught by turning lessons into lyrics, speaking rhythmically, tapping out time. Tools include musical instruments, music, radio, stereo, CD-ROM, multimedia. Interpersonal – understanding, interacting with others. They have many friends, empathy for others, street smarts.
They can be taught through group activities, seminars, dialogues. Tools include the telephone, audio conferencing, time and attention from the instructor, video conferencing, writing, computer conferencing, E-mail. Intrapersonal – understanding one’s own interests, goals. These learners tend to shy away from others.
They can be taught through independent study and introspection. Tools include books, creative materials, diaries, privacy and time. They are the most independent of the learners. These learners have highly developed auditory skills and often think in words.