Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences Part I
By Elaine Gallagher, PH.D. Teachers have been hearing much about Multiple Intelligences, not because it’s new, because it’s not, but because they are discovering […]
Teachers have been hearing much about Multiple Intelligences, not because it’s new, because it’s not, but because they are discovering that the theory offers a clear explanation of the many ways in which we learn. Some educational experts are using the term «Learner Preferences» instead of «Multiple Intelligences» so that the eight intelligences can be implemented in the classroom…. supporting the view that various students that learn in multiple ways.
In 1983, Dr. Howard Gardner, published Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. It was a book originally written for psychologists. Classroom teachers, however, were the ones who embraced the theory, recognizing that it gave a logical explanation of why some students did well in school and others, with similar I.Q. (intelligence quotient), did not.
Gardner’s theory challenged the traditional psychological view of intelligence as a single capacity that is evidenced by verbal ability, and logical and mathematical thought. Instead, Gardner proposed that all individuals possess eight independent intelligences. These, in combination, enable people to solve problems or fashion products with varying levels of skill. Gardner’s simplified definition of intelligence is «the ability to solve problems».
The eight «intelligences» presented by Dr. Gardner are:
1. Verbal – Linguistic
2. Logical – Mathematical
(1 & 2 are the styles of thinking measured most often on psychological «I.Q.» tests.)
4. Visual – Spatial
5. Bodily – kinesthetic (including gross and fine motor skills)
6. Interpersonal (an area of strength for teachers, social workers, and politicians)
7. Intrapersonal (self-understanding)
8, Natural (the final one to be discovered by Gardner, after he had already published data about the first seven.)
Gardner identified these intelligences using biological and psychological studies, including:
- Synthesizing findings from disparate sources, such as research at Project Zero( in Harvard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA)
- Studyingthe development of various cognitive skills in normal children
- Studies of the breakdown of cognitive abilities in stroke patients and other brain-damaged individuals
- Work with prodigies, idiot savants, autistic children, and other special populations
- A review of the literature on psychological testing and the relationship between test scores and performance on different tasks.
Findings over the years, suggest that using activities to support the various Multiple Intelligences helps schools in various ways:
- It offers a vocabulary for teachers to use in discussing children’s strengths and in developing curriculum.
- It validates the practices of teachers whose work is already synchronized with MI theory.
- It encourages teachers to use a wide variety of activities, in music, art, critical thinking, kinesthetic, logic puzzles, brain teasers, cooperative learning activities.
- It promotes or justifies education in diverse forms.
- It encourages teachers to work in teams, complementing their own strengths with those of their colleagues.
- It encourages schools to devise rich educational experiences for children from diverse backgrounds.
- It allows children to see that they may have abilities and skills that are diverse, and that their strengths can be developed.
- Parents will be able to recognize strengths in their children that may not have been noticed before if they had been concentrating on only traditional «intelligences».
- Gardner sees that one intelligence can strengthen another, so, for example, a student weak in reading may enhance skills by using music lyrics or a sports rules book in order to grow in reading skills.
- Using MI activities keeps the students more involved and interested in academic work.
We’ll look at the eight intelligences in more detail, with their characteristics and classroom activities to support each intelligence.