Introduction to Multiple Intelligences
Since first being published in
1983, Howard Gardner’s Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences
has had a dramatic impact on teachers and students all over the world. Since
then, Gardner has published several books and articles related to his theory.
Put simply, Gardner contends that human intelligence is considerably more
multi-faceted than contemporary society has traditionally held. Most people
consider intelligence to be an innate, singular quality: the ability to process
information and utilize that information in order to solve analytical problems.
However, Gardner postulates that intelligence is comprised of several different
faculties that can act autonomously or in cooperation with each other. Although
Gardner concedes that there are countless aptitudes that form one’s ability
and potential, he has thus far classified eight of these intelligences. These
Intelligence refers to the ability to interpret data and perform concrete,
as well as abstract calculations. This intelligence emphasizes reasoning and
problem-solving ability. This intelligence is most evident in engineers,
scientists and other professionals that rely heavily on analytical thinking.
Linguistic Intelligence refers
to the individual’s ability to use, manipulate and express language. This
intelligence is common in authors, poets and professionals that rely heavily
on verbal and/or written communication.
refers to the individual’s ability to utilize social skills and connect
with others. This intelligence emphasizes one’s ability to perceive
specific intentions, moods and feelings in others. The intelligence is
evident in politicians, professional counselors and other professionals
that depend on relating well to others.
refers to the ability to form a truthful impression of oneself,
psychologically. Gardner considers this to be the most important
intelligence, as it, more than any other intelligence, enables one to
distinguish emotions internally and live a healthy, balanced life.
Spatial Intelligence refers to
one’s ability to accurately perceive the physical world, identify elements
of that world, and mentally visualize images. Artists, engineers and
professionals that require a keen sense of direction often exhibit this
is the ability to control one’s bodily motions and manipulate objects
skillfully. Dancers, gymnasts and professional athletes typically exhibit
Musical Intelligence refers to
the ability to identify and utilize musical elements, including pitch,
rhythm, and tone. This intelligence may be exhibited in different methods of
musical functioning, including appreciation, composition, and performance.
Naturalistic Intelligence is
the ability to interpret and relate to the world of nature. People such as farmers, hunters, and other outdoor professionals may exhibit
this type of intelligence.
On the surface, it appears that
Gardner states what most teachers have always understood: different people are
simply good at different things. Gardner, however, takes this idea a step
farther. Rather than defining specific skills as simple interests or talents,
Gardner defines intelligence as any ability that allows one to identify and
resolve problems within a learned task. Gardner expands on this by explaining
that these various intelligences are typically interwoven and dynamic. Any
intelligence can be used to reinforce or enhance another.
Clearly, there is no
to implement his theory in an educational setting. Rather, a broad-based
approach encompassing several different learning strategies will enhance the
development of each intelligence. These strategies may include, but certainly
are not limited to: