An 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 include:

  1. Logical-Mathematical 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Interpersonal Intelligence 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.

  4. Intrapersonal Intelligence 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.

  5. 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 intelligence.

  6. Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence is the ability to control one’s bodily motions and manipulate objects skillfully. Dancers, gymnasts and professional athletes typically exhibit this intelligence.

  7. 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.

  8. 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 one way 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:

 

Last Updated on June 20, 2010

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